Local entrepreneurs convene to discuss ideas for improving Tampa Bay

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This is the second of these types of meetings held by the organization in Florida, with the first edition held in Orlando leading to the development of a tourism video.

“Our organization is really focused on the innovation of Florida's economy and bringing innovative ideas to both economic development and community development,” said Ned Pope, president of Florida Next. “You can't expect to try the same old things and expect different results. I know people always cite this as the old adage about insanity, but it rings true in a civic space. You have to try new things. You have to try and provoke a audience, and that's what Florida Next is all about.”

While in the beginning stages there was a some timidity in the crowd towards standing up and presenting their ideas, the audience warmed up quickly and began volunteering to submit more pitches.

“I think this is brilliant,” said Ryan Iacovacci, who submitted his own pitch consisting of a developed bike path and planting produce in abandoned lots. “Now after talking to everybody I think we should do this more. Silicon Valley, why the ideas coming out of there are so powerful is because of these happenings, because people with these crazy ideas come together and create.

There were several ideas that were quite popular, but the leading vote getter was Keisha Pickett's idea for what she referred to as “Sunday Sounds”.

“Sunday Sounds is just what it sounds like,” said Pickett as she explained the plan. “We're going to be listening to sounds of some great local artists on Sunday afternoons. The idea was because Tampa doesn't have that thing that unites us and everybody relates to music of some sort of way. So I wanted to do something that included our local and regional artists as well as local businesses to bring them out as well, to give them an opportunity and platform to set up their stands so people can support and get to know our local businesses and local business owners and have some commerce for us to take part of.”

During the discussion period, a group consisting of both observers and those who didn't have their idea chosen discussed the plan, particularly in how to gain sponsorships, working with people who hold similar style concerts, and what the Sunday events will generally consist of.

“I think that coming together like this to share ideas is what works,” said Pickett. “Teamwork always makes a good dream work. One brain is good, but when you have 20 others with you, you can't lose.”

Florida Next plans to continue these meetings across the state, with tentative plans to hold another in six months. Pope hopes that the ideas discussed will be coming into fruition and serve as an example of what a combined entrepreneurial effort can bring to the area.

The non-profit group Florida Next hosted a gathering of some of the area's brightest entrepreneurial minds Wednesday night in an effort to develop ideas on improving life in the Bay Area.

The event was a cross between a town hall meeting and a fast pace brain storming session. Each participant was given 90 seconds to pitch an idea. Concepts varied widely, from travel packages marketed towards young professionals to homeless shelters that focused more on rehabilitating than housing. from Once every idea was presented the audience voted for their top three ideas and then split into groups to give more attention to the three most popular ideas and creating a defined plan on how to achieve each respective goal. Florida Next then keeps tabs on the plan, fostering communication and development.

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