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Opinion
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Guest Column
Five reasons why millennials love Tampa Bay | Column
Tampa gets high marks on nearly every quality-of-life issue that surveys say millennials most desire.
People bike ride along the River Walk this month in Tampa.
People bike ride along the River Walk this month in Tampa. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Jan. 27
Updated Jan. 28

There was a time when people like me would have moved away from Tampa after graduating college. Not anymore. Tampa millennials know: This is a great place to live.

Our city’s charms are certainly no secret. More than 1,000 people day move to Florida, and many of them come to Tampa Bay. They’re attracted by the weather, the museums, the nightlife and our sports teams. The Bucs are going to the Super Bowl this year — at home! — and the Rays, Lightning and Rowdies all qualified for national championship games in 2020.

People of all ages love that we’re 30 minutes away from world-famous beaches, we don’t have snow and we do have Tom Brady.

Aakash Patel [Times files]
Aakash Patel [Times files]

But Tampa gets high marks on nearly every quality-of-life issue that surveys say millennials want. Here are five:

1. We’ve got a vibrant and quickly growing downtown. Millennials want to live in cities where they can easily walk to work, the grocery story, restaurants and entertainment. Our downtown has all of that, along with an active riverfront for outdoor recreation. And if high-rises aren’t your thing, neighborhoods like Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, Ybor City and SoHo have historic single-family homes at a variety of price points.

2. The housing here is relatively affordable. According to Redfin, homes in Tampa cost 24 percent less than in Miami, which means Tampa offers the Florida lifestyle without breaking your bank account. There’s also plenty of rental housing, for millennials who want to wait to buy their first home.

3. You won’t find a better environment for start-ups, especially in technology. Opportunities abound, from the annual Synapse Summit to the Embarc Collective, you’ll find support and inspiration. Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce programs such as Emerge, Leadership Tampa and Minority Business Accelerator offer mentorship and networking opportunities.

4. Once your business gets going, you can hire from a strong workforce, thanks to several institutions of higher learning, including the University of South Florida, one of the nation’s top research universities.

5. Our demographic likes its food, and choices here are bountiful, including kitchen magic from James Beard Award winners and semi-finalists. The beer scene is also booming. We are, after all, the place that gave you Cigar City Brewing.

When I graduated from Florida State University, I could have settled anywhere in the world. I chose here, because I saw the potential. Tampa has exceeded my expectations. And there’s more to come.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor often says: “This city will change more in the next 10 years than it has in my lifetime and we only have one chance to get it right.”

So far, so good. Millennials play an important role in positive change for any city. We’re the up-and-coming leaders, the entrepreneurs, the advocates for inclusiveness and future-focused policies. As our segment of the population continues to lead in a positive way, Tampa will continue to improve. We’re taking advantage of this turning point to get it right.

Aakash Patel is the founder and President of Elevate, Inc. and is the board chairman of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County.