Regional business group urges common political response to coronavirus

The Tampa Bay Partnership sent a letter to political leaders Wednesday asking for a crossbay virtual meeting to find a unified response
Tampa Bay leaders need to meet in a virtual meeting to figure out a regional approach to the coronavirus crisis, the president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership said Wednesday.
Tampa Bay leaders need to meet in a virtual meeting to figure out a regional approach to the coronavirus crisis, the president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership said Wednesday. [ Times ]
Published March 25, 2020|Updated March 25, 2020

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As Hillsborough leaders bicker over stay-at-home orders and curfews, a regional advocacy group sent a letter to political leaders there and in Pinellas and Pasco counties Wednesday, urging them to avoid a piecemeal response to the coronavirus crisis.

The Tampa Bay Partnership, a 30-year-old organization, sent the letter to the chairpersons of the Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county commissions and the mayors of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa, saying residents deserve “a clear and consistent policy to apply for all of Tampa Bay.”

Rick Homans, the group’s president and chief executive officer, urged the leaders of the three county commissions and mayors to convene a virtual meeting to find common ground and a unified, consistent approach.

Without regional communication, the risk is a haphazard, piecemeal response, he said.

“Number one is to begin talking to each other face to face. I think it’s important for the residents of Tampa Bay to see our leaders talking to each other in a collaborative way. It builds confidence that our leadership is engaged in a regional level,” Homans told the Tampa Bay Times.

His group doesn’t have a position in the Hillsborough fight between Mayor Jane Castor’s push for a citywide stay-at-home order and the county’s resistance to that step.

What’s already happened isn’t as important as what lies ahead as the region grapples with the coronavirus crisis, he said.

“Let’s move forward. We need to get ourselves better organized at a regional level to do better in the days ahead,” Homans said. “Let’s start start with the easy things to do. Build a relationship. A lot of those people don’t have a relationship.”

The counties and cities can share data, mobilize resources and communicate in a consistent language as a good first step, he said.

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