1. Business

Rebranded business alliannce '!p' celebrates a year of success in the north Tampa area

TAMPA — The business alliance looking to economically infuse the north Tampa region recognized community leaders for their commitment to the area Oct. 26 with the University Area Community Impact Awards.

The organization, previously known as the Tampa Innovation Alliance and now operating as "Tampa's !p," presented the awards at a networking celebration co-sponsored by the University Area Community Development Corp.

Love Our City, an outreach of volunteer service from Crossover Church, 1235 E Fowler Ave., received The Creative Cooperation Award for exceptional collaborative impact between community partners and community members.

Mort Elementary, 1806 E Bearss Ave., was named The Community Catalyst Award recipient, for emerging in community leadership, inclusion and ongoing growth and development. It's a community school trying to meet educational needs and family needs.

Diamond View, a movie-television production studio at 1616 E Bearss Ave., received the Corporate Change-Maker Award for a business that provided a notable contribution to the design, development and assessment of innovative ideas to move the community forward.

The so-called Innovation Gathering drew several hundred business, government and non-profit leaders to see the work of new businesses in the north Tampa area and sample food from restaurants in the area.

Led by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, the alliance formed three years ago to improve the area from Busch Boulevard to Bearss Avenue and Interstate 75 to Interstate 275.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn praised "!p" for its foundation and that it would be the "next driving force in Tampa."

"We are not settling for a nasty Fowler Avenue or a nasty Busch Boulevard," Buckhorn said.

Sharpe and other speakers focused on work accomplished by the alliance, which settled on "!p: Potential Unleashed" as part of a re-branding effort. It has grown to 250 businesses as members. Speakers also discussed the work it still has to do uniting the potential of the University of South Florida students, the growing medical centers, technology centers, retail establishments and a major tourist attraction, Busch Gardens.

"We are a diverse global community; we welcome it and we cheer it on," Sharpe said.

!p chairman Brian Adams, Florida Hospital Tampa's President & CEO, announced that there was 2.13 million square feet of new permitted construction since 2015 in the area.

He also said the organization is committed to $1.5 billion of investments in the next 10 years.

"This is a unified effort to unleash the potential," Adams said. "It will be 'A Decade of Transformation.'"

Contact Lenora Lake at