By Nicholas Glover, Tampa Bay Chamber, July 20, 2021 | Tampa Bay Times
For Florida cities to remain economic leaders, it’s necessary that they work together with their local communities and businesses to prioritize clean energy.
Tampa is among the fastest-growing cities with community leaders and public officials who have a compelling and inclusive vision for the future, and even a Super Bowl title, back-to-back Stanley Cup championships and an American League pennant.
Our community is looking ahead by prioritizing investments presented by the clean-energy economy. By making resiliency a top priority, Florida’s business networks can ensure that the state’s business environment remains strong well into the future. As we make these investments, we must also uphold the highest standards of diversity, equity and inclusion, ensuring that improvements — from weatherization and improving home insulation to EV-charging stations and the redevelopment of brownfields — benefit everyone in our local communities, especially the historically underserved.
Clean energy and resilience have become integral measures of a region’s overall competitiveness. That’s a key reason for the Tampa Bay Chamber’s decision to include goals in its policy platform to advance them both and to engage the business community in supporting local action surrounding these priorities that are flexible, predictable, and durable.
The cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orlando recently joined the Florida Race to Zero, a competition among Florida cities to reach carbon neutrality. The competition is helping to stimulate clean energy action while benefiting economies by creating more clean energy jobs and promoting economic competitiveness. Needless to say, the chamber supports this initiative and the work of these cities’ governments.
We also recognize the important contribution of Water Street Tampa, a new urban community that promotes wellness and sustainability. The project serves as a living example of how clean energy efforts bring innovative solutions to the table — such as the community’s district cooling plant that significantly increases energy efficiency.
Clean energy and sustainable development attract major companies, which are more focused now than ever on meeting their emissions goals. When considering relocating to a new city — and bringing massive potential for local economic benefit — businesses consider whether they’ll have access to the renewable energy they seek.
For Florida cities to remain economic leaders, it’s necessary that they work together with their local communities and businesses to prioritize clean energy. It’s also necessary that we equitably include all communities in resilience initiatives, moving beyond historical practices that often fell short on environmental justice. The Tampa Bay Chamber is committed to keeping frontline communities top of mind and ensuring that no neighborhood is left behind.
Overall, Florida is doing well promoting legislation surrounding resiliency, but it is time for us all to be proactive instead of reactive. The business case supports a move toward clean energy, and I encourage other Florida chambers and businesses to implement programs that expand clean energy in their areas. Together, we can create a stronger, equitable, more innovative business environment that brings lasting benefits to cities across the state of Florida.
Nicholas Glover is the vice president of advocacy for the Tampa Bay Chamber.