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  1. Transportation

Tampa Bay business leaders tour Charlotte (again) for transit tips

TAMPA — About 20 local business leaders, including Jeff Vinik, Richard Gonzmart and Judy Genshaft, spent two days in Charlotte this week to see what Tampa Bay could learn from its peer city when it comes to transit and development.

Several from that group will meet at the Tampa Bay Partnership's office at 10 a.m. today to discuss what they saw, whom they met with and how those lessons might be applied here.

Regional transit has been a hot topic lately. The partnership spearheaded efforts this past legislative session to transform the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority into a regional transit authority. (The "T" in the TBARTA was changed from "transportation" to "transit" to reflect this.) The Florida Department of Transportation is also funding a two-year study to determine what transit options — bus, light rail or others — would work in Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, transportation planners are evaluating whether a regional transportation planning group makes more sense than the county-by-county system currently in place.

It's not the first time bay area representatives have turned to Charlotte for advice on transportation. Over the past decade, several contingents of politicians and business leaders have made the trek to see how another humid, midsize Southern city with a sprawling metro area garnered support for an expensive and expansive light rail system.

Some of the topics discussed this week in North Carolina included the role of transit in Charlotte's economic growth, providing leadership in transit development and building public-private partnerships.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.

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