About 9 years ago this week, marked the start of a unique economic development initiative, Hillsborough County’s #EDI2. Envisioned as a way to facilitate serendipitous collisions and inspire collaboration, this modest investment in tech-driven economic development was the first of its kind locally to focus on the grassroots tech community. What you don’t see/hear in this discussion, is the work that went into building the community and fighting the status quo economic development discussions in the 8+ years prior to the launch of #EDI2.


Transcript below:

Good morning and welcome to buddy brew coffee a weekly chat that we have here about everything related to the tech ecosystem and related to economic development and how the economics of tech of working here or hopefully working better here in the Tampa Bay region I have a number of folks here I’m Ken Evans Commissioner sharp could not make it this week, so I’m filling in we have some of the usual suspects and some new faces today, and we’ll be talking about a number of different things relative to economic development and how it is reaching across the table and working a little bit better with the tech community and some of the initiatives that were presented at this week’s board of county commissioners meeting on wednesday and we’ll have some folks talking about that as well, but one thingIi want to point out is right down there if the camera can pan down to below the buddy brew coffee is we have a new hashtag will be using on a weekly basis right now, I’d ask you to use it for reposting the video and making comments about the the buddy brew chat in the future will actually be monitoring the hashtag during the even,t so we can take live questions and make this a little bit more interactive so that you folks that are out there watching this streaming or otherwise can participate in the conversation but having said that I w,ant to make sure that everyone knows this is an open event for anyone to come down and participate view and ask questions both before and after the taping and and if you’re interested in economic economic development and the impact on the tech ecosystem come on down here and participate in the conversation so today we’ll be talking about the economic development in the innovation initiative or ed I too will be talking a little bit about sprout camp a new accelerator that is kicking off in the Tampa Bay area will be talking about the hackathon which the county is putting on in mid-april and we have some new information about that and we’ll be talking about other events in the and the bay area as well including ignite which is a great event that will be at the tampa theatre on April 25th but right now I’d like to start off by talking about the economic development innovation initiative EDI to which was introduced by Commissioner sharp at Wednesday’s Ward economy meaning and we have Lindsay Kimball the managing director of Hillsborough County Economic Development to talk a little bit about what what she crafted for for that discussion and kind of the road ahead what the timeline is for getting that implemented and and how it’s actually going to impact economic development from a cultural perspective as well as from an engagement perspective in the tech community great well thank you can I appreciate the introduction we are also very excited about the economic development innovation initiative what was passed by the Board of County Commissioners was the direction to go forward and develop a program that’s going to help support the innovation and technology ecosystem in our community we’re also looking to support the avenues where folks engaged where or talent engaged each other we’re smart people come together and come up with the next big innovative idea so it’s not about it’s not about number one sign model government dictating anything it’s not about us picking winners or losers it’s not about direct funding of any kind to it to a company or to an idea it’s about providing and facility providing for facilitation of connections of these folks so that they can get together so that our community can be viewed as an innovative and forward-thinking community I mean this is a big shift for us it’s generally been about bricks and mortar and in cubes and tourism development and thing like that so where we’re moving now we’re following the trend of economic development we’re moving away from smokestack chasing and we’re trying to grow our own here in this community I mean there’s there’s talk throughout the state about economic gardening and and more emphasis on the small businesses and we know that statistics are bearing out that the companies of the future and where wealth generation will occur in your community well we’ll be with startups and will be with smaller companies so from our perspective that’s the point of the economic gentleman initiative is number one to put our stake in the ground and say that we’re a community that’s welcoming and accepting and we want to be innovative and forward-thinking and number two that we are going to provide support as i said to the infrastructure that allows folks so across the board we want to help raise the level of our innovative and technology driven economy well set and thank you for putting that forward i knew a number of us in the tech community we’re at the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Wednesday and really appreciate not just the proposal that you put forward but the discussion that happened from the commissioners and the very positive acceptance that we saw and I want to highlight two things that you would like one of which you said is this is not about putting the county at the forefront of tech discussions or leading the tech ecosystem this is about putting the county in a role that they’re very comfortable in which is infrastructure understanding what we need to have to be a start a friendly community looking at the best practices and around the country and saying what has helped other communities either grow into better tech hubs or at least sustain their tech ecosystem in the good times and the bad and and looking at those things it would really will be a partnership with the existing tech community helping us out with the infrastructure making sure that more things start and grow here as opposed to focusing later downstream like you said an economic development normally tries to pick winners of more mature companies the other thing that I want to say before we move on on this is this is not a fund in a couple of the local papers have listed it as a fund for startups it is not this is this is about infrastructure and making sure that programs that we really need to have to get innovators and get inventors and both you know it’s not just tech it’s not just software it’s scientist it’s anyone that has an idea in their garage or that they’re working on the weekend to get them involved with others in the community so they can vet those ideas and bring them forward find co-founders find good places to work find ways to turn their idea into a product not fund the company or fund a product but make that product more viable in the eyes of the rest of the community so that it has a fighting chance so is anyone else have any questions for Lindsay about EDI to or how it’s how it’s going to work I mean I just think I think it’s a great program as a so Tony desist oh I have a start-up citizen vesture we do crowd funding for local government projects and I think like Ken said it’s you know it’s not a fund it’s not a place to go get you know seed funding but it is something that’s going to help the ecosystem any existing resources and tools that exist in our community and make them stronger which i think is really important for startups like you know mine and others to be able to have places where we can you know if we need to find a co-founder or you know when you’re at a later state of you know a little bit later stage like me we need to find developers or we want to you know go to a place where there’s other startups and interact with them and get new ideas and I think it’s really gonna be good for the community for Tampa for Hillsborough and sort of establishing us and building on the ority that the tech ecosystem we already happier I think it’ll be a great program and I’m excited from you know just from a start-up founder perfective about what are you gonna do well the three the three C’s that I talked about with with the tech community are our community it is a community it’s the it’s the it’s the sum of all the people that participate in it confidence so people have the confidence that they can build products and build companies here in credibility and that’s something that we’ve kind of been lacking in the Tampa or the overall Florida ecosystem but people don’t think we’re a credible tech ecosystem although we have great talent we have great number of people here and so I want to talk about one of those events that helps actually I’m going to let you have on to talk about one of those events that helps it’s a very upstream event it’s not about any one company it’s not it’s not about products it’s about the people that are here and what they’re capable of doing the county has stepped up and said that they want to sponsor a hackathon and jovanna explained exactly what that is but this is a great step forward for the county and participating in event like this because it really does engage individuals not companies but individuals students all the way up through very seasoned entrepreneurs and technical people that can that can participate in something like that so giovanna could you tell us a little bit about the hackathon is coming up absolutely i’m also excited about a TI too and i think we can all agree that for this issue government can only go so far in helping build the community so I think the hackathon is a good start it’s going to bring students along with people that are already working in the field together usually resources from students are coming from the school directly and so getting these people to mingle with each other outside of startup is I think it’s going to be a really good thing the mission for this hackathon is just going to be to produce something that helps internal county employees or the citizens at large and that’s going to be the challenge for this hackathon and we’re expecting some cool things to come out of that and hopefully the things that do come out of that will you know impress the people in County and tell we walk these up and you want these websites and we’re gonna do what’s necessary to build that community if I can also add on to your thought there another thing I think is important is that with this initiative we are lending visible visibility to this community this segment of our of our industry right and I think that another benefit of that is that the larger established companies that are here maybe more traditional companies are going to see that there is there’s a local talent that can help them there are folks here who are creating for innovative who are a benefit to having a more traditional state company you know it also shines a light on that so that maybe they don’t reach out to other you know other states or other countries for technology innovation I think that it’s going to help our local local industry here be more vibrant I can I can’t wait to get to the discussion of open data whenever that’s gonna happen but the really groundbreaking thing about this hackathon is it is a government initiative and they’re going to give us live data to work with at the hackathon which doesn’t happen for most happy thoughts so I’m pretty excited about that too typically a government could call itself transparent if they put some info on a long PDF file and stick it in an obscure place on their website and there you go the public has it it’s accessible that’s not the sentiment where that’s years behind what we’re trying to do so I hope this inspires government to be more transparent with your data and we’ve seen this in other regions they’re good examples out there like what they’ve done in Manhattan what they’ve done in other other cities and counties and regions around where they’ve opened up the data and this is not personal information about residents or anything of that nature it’s transactional data about the day-to-day workings inside the county and and in that data there could be some real hidden gems you can build some great applications that are very very helpful to the citizens to the county workers to the state and to the region overall but you don’t know until you try and so it’s a great example of let’s see what’s in the data that we can use as infographics as data reports or applications but let’s also see what our local tech community is capable also back to that and the issue of confidence if we can build confidence in the people that are here that they can build great applications in a weekend because that’s what a hackathon is we start on Friday night we finish on sunday afternoon that’s it everyone goes away but you have something to show format and it’s the same with some of the other weekend events like startup weekend where you get together it’s not about necessarily creating a company in the weekend but it’s about throwing people together around an idea and seeing what’s possible then I mentioned this last weekend in the body of your coffee it’s about our fitness as a tech community if we do these things we build confidence that we can build products that we can innovate and that we can that we do have the talent here to actually come up with something at a moment’s notice and so give us those challenges give us those opportunities to prove that we have great tech talent and great tech ideas in and around the community and then greater things will come from that and as we move downstream from people meeting each other and again it’s not about networking it’s about them actually working together people come together they meet co-founders they come up with ideas they start to build an idea about a product and then downstream from those weekend type events we have more formal events things like accelerators and incubators stuff like that we have Joel sereno is who is the founding member or managing member of sprout camp an accelerator that is starting here in the Tampa Bay area and i’ma let y’all talk a little bit about his program the type of entrepreneurs that he sees coming into the program or that he needs into the program exactly what that’s going to do for them when they are in the program and and participating in accelerators thank you very much Ken thank you MZ very excited about EDI what’s happening right now in Hillsborough County and the support that we’re saying as Tony mentioned it is an unbelievable cheerleader to have in the corner of startups especially when you see people start banding together and one of the fundamental principles of running an accelerator is for that exact reason is to bring startups to bring entrepreneurs to bring the government to bring companies corporations to bring students all to the table and investors of course and bring a national kind of view on how things are having a very perspective and so one of the fundamentals behind running sprout camp in Tampa Bay is to help that whole innovation bring a light on the talent that we had like ken said we have an unbelievable talent I’ve spent probably four or five years in this community hiring developers designers and experts from outside of this area it’s very difficult to get people to come out of their comfort zones in this area and I think as can mention they creating a fitness center where and I believe this is part of your program is to help support a fitness center to where entrepreneurs and creatives and technologists can all come together and feel like they can find a co-founder they can bet an idea out they can find support for the ideas that they want to move into a business or product what sprout campus position to do is actually help them build that product through that life safety lifecycle one of the things that we definitely believe that sprout camp is that an individual can certainly change the world and what that means my is looking at bigger companies and looking at the way traditional startups have grown in an incubation process is they have lots and lots of time to do and they can kind of find their way they could make mistakes come on their own time and accelerators meant to speed things up and to move it along very quickly and that’s what sprout camp is here to do really is to pull entrepreneurs out of the Woodworks put them together in teams and work on real-world products are actually going to grow into viable companies and we want them to stay right here at Tampa Bay part of that is also bringing in companies and entrepreneurs from outside of this area to live in this beautiful place that we all kind of have a chance to live in every day so those are some of the things behind sprout camp we’re very involved in trying to help both the EDI program that’s happening here at Hillsborough County and like we said the overall ecosystem sprout camp wants to help support that as much as possible by running as many of events and of course an accelerator twice a year so if you’re not jumping or if your startup and you really need help on your product sprout camp is positioned to help you do that in a very short amount of time and our whole steak is to really see what Lindsay was talking to to where we can draw more attention on Tampa Bay as a viable place to come and build your business and that’s what we really just want to help do so and thanks for native adduction and thank you very much for everything you guys are doing and thank you for you know having a start-up or raising money for the hackathon and thank you for being young and entrepreneurial bringing people together you’re really being passionate about what you’re doing so you know thank you well as we’re wrapping up here I just want to you know kind of do a little bit of a recap of what we’ve talked about talked about the fact that you know the EDI initiative is gonna be up what’s the date that will be in front of the County Commission again it’ll be in front of the Commission on March twentieth March twentieth and so I want everyone to keep you know pay attention to that I think there will probably be a number of people tweeting and blogging about that as it’s coming up to talk about that get the tech community out there in support of that it’s important that we show up at the County Commission email the commissioners call the commissioners and express support for this type of initiative let them know that the tech community is here it is vibrant but it really does need the participation it needs infrastructure and more importantly we need the county to kind of take the bully pulpit of saying we can be a vibrant tech community we already have very interesting things here if joy Randall’s was here today she’s one of the regular participants in our buddy brew coffee she’d be talking about the number of great tech people that get on a plane every day and go to work in another city and come back to Tampa to live on the we can’t afford to have that type of brain drain even temporary brain drain during the week when those people could be forming companies are working for companies right here so we want to you know pay attention to the EDI to that’s coming up and provide some support and if you look at the LinkedIn group for next gen economic development or if you look at some of the various blogs that are around the area you’ll see when this is coming up and you know what will be encouraging your support Joel any events around spout kranthi or any dates of our own sprout camp that you want to highlight sure we’re actually running a pilot program right now downtown st. Petersburg which kicks off a March 12th and then what we’re doing right now is working for a permanent location this summer to run a full session and if this summer is not viable that we’re going to do this fall but we are committed by doing it by the fall of this year in addition obviously we have ignite coming up we’re going to do a little talk about sprout camp at ignite on April 25th at the tampa theatre the champ is here to thank you Ken that’s all I can think of okay and jovanna the hackathon is on April twelfth get a 12 cc Brandon campus yes antoni do you want to tell you say anything about the fundraising efforts for Hector yeah i’ll get a fidget for the gun for 30 seconds if you go to citizen vesture calm you can right now we are raising money for this prize pool at the hackathon we’re crowdfunding it a new innovative way to sort of raise funding for what’s going to be a great so great event of the hackathon so if you go to citizen mester com you can help contribute to that to the prize pool and yeah it’s gonna be mystical 20 to 25 yeah twenty-seven hundred dollars and we all right thank you very much and again there are a lot of interesting things happening here we’re here every Friday so please come join us watch us online retweet repost the video I think are a lot of people that be very interested in this discussion and participating both you know virtually as well as coming on down here and this is really for the tech community to crossover with economic development make it more about the economics of tech and less about the development of development right which we’re you know we’re very entrenched in paving over things but this is about building a new economy in the Tampa Bay area and how you can contribute so thank you for joining us ed I to hashtag ed I to look for it and hopefully participate next week thank you very much thank you