Tampa Bay area falling behind in transit, cost of living, innovation, new report shows

It is no secret the housing market around Tampa Bay is red-hot. However, the region is not keeping up with that boom when it comes to wages, transportation, and talent, when compared to other cities.

For the last five years, the Tampa Bay Partnership has been measuring how the region stacks up against similar cities across the state and country.

"How we're doing on everything from economic vitality to quality of life, health, home prices, wages," explained Bemetra Simmons, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership.

The group released the latest Regional Competitiveness Report this week, and Tampa Bay has some room to grow.

"We're still a magical place to live. But like everything, we want to take an honest assessment of where we are and look at how we can improve, and this data will allow us to do that," Simmons said.

Overall, Simmons says Tampa Bay rank somewhere in the middle. 

The study found the region continues to outperform peer markets in three areas: attracting new residents, new business start-ups, and rising median household net worth, thanks in part to skyrocketing real estate values.

"So we're doing great from a growth perspective," said Simmons.

However, the data shows the region lags in some key categories. 

Simmons says Tampa Bay consistently struggles with transportation options and transit demand. Also, wages are not keeping up with cost of living in the region. Finally, Tampa Bay ranks lower in nurturing of talent and innovation.

"We're performing worse than we'd like to and have declined year over year, which is showing significantly how the pandemic is affecting education and unfortunately, the future of our workforce," Simmons said.

Knowing where Tampa Bay stands can only push the region forward, making changes and progress toward a growing economy that can be shared by everyone.

"These are not the things that are going to be solved in one year increments, but they are things that each year we should be making strides to chip away and make it a little bit better, and a little bit better, and a little bit better," said Simmons.