GoHillsborough needs YOUR voice!

Make Transportation Choices in YOUR Community

tampa traffic photo

We’ve heard your voices. Together, we’ve examined the issues and opportunities in Hillsborough County. Now it’s time for you to narrow down and make transportation choices that are right for your community.

Our upcoming open-house-style workshops, including one telephone town hall are where we begin balancing our transportation system with our Top 5 Priorities: Maintenance, Better Roads, Intersections, Sidewalks/Bike Lanes and Transit Options. Join us to help shape our Community Transportation Plan!

RSVP for an upcoming workshop:

  • Apr. 9 – Making Choices: Central Tampa/East TampaRagan Park
    1200 East Lake Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 13 – Making Choices: West Tampa/South TampaManhattan Avenue United Methodist Church
    4511 South Manhattan Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 14 – Making Choices: BrandonBell Shoals Baptist Church
    2102 Bell Shoals Road, Brandon, FL 33511
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 16 – Making Choices: West TampaMt. Olive A.M.E. Church
    1902 West La Salle Street, Tampa, FL 33607
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 20 – Making Choices: New TampaNew Tampa Regional Library
    10001 Cross Creek Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33647
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 21 – Making Choices: South CountyThe Landing & Cafe at Waterset
    7012 Sail View Lane, Apollo Beach, FL, 33572
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 23 – Making Choices: Northeast/Plant CityTrinkle Center
    1206 North Park Road, Plant City, FL 33563
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 27 – Making Choices: ThonotosassaThonotosassa Library
    10715 Main St., Thonotosassa, FL 33592
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 28 – Making Choices: New Tampa/Temple Terrace/UniversityOmar K. Lightfoot Center
    10901 N 56th St., Temple Terrace, FL 33617
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • Apr. 30 – Making Choices: NorthwestSt. Timothy Catholic Church
    17512 Lakeshore Road, Lutz, FL 33558
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here
  • May 4 – Making Choices: Telephone Town HallToll Free Number: 877-229-8493
    PIN: 110301
    6 to 8 p.m. RSVP here

Be sure to check out the Issues & Opportunities Report, which recaps YOUR input from the first 18 workshops

If you’re interested in learning more, visit GOHillsborough.org or find us on social media.

We hope to see you there.

GO Hillsborough team


West Tampa CRA News

City of Tampa Holds Community Meetings to Shape Plan for West Tampa Community Redevelopment Area

its time for wt photo

The City of Tampa is beginning the process to create a new Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) in West Tampa, and will hold two community meetings. Input and feedback gathered at the meetings will to shape and determine the redevelopment plan for the area.

“The City is ready to invest significantly into the West Tampa community, remaking parks and public spaces. By creating a CRA, we can make sure that the new tax revenue generated by our investments and those of the private sector continue to pay off for the neighborhood,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “The community has been involved in the planning process throughout, and we need them to continue to be so that the redevelopment plan is the community’s plan.”

The community meetings will be held on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 and Thursday, April 30, 2015, and attendees will be able to provide input on activities to improve West Tampa, encourage redevelopment, and identify community concerns.  Both meetings will be at 6:00 p.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, located at 2200 N. Oregon Ave.  These meetings are free and open to the public.

Input and feedback gathered at these meetings, along with data and recommendations from plans developed over past years, will be used to create the West Tampa Community Redevelopment Plan.  Tampa City Council would then consider a “Finding of Necessity” to create the CRA,  and if approved, will adopt an ordinance officially establishing the West Tampa CRA and a special trust fund to improve the area.  The process will occur over the next two months and is expected to be completed by late June 2015.

The boundary of the proposed West Tampa CRA is the Hillsborough River on the east; Armenia Avenue on the west; and Columbus Drive on the north. The southern boundary is being determined and will either run along Cypress/Cass Streets or further south to Kennedy Blvd.

West Tampa joins the other existing Community Redevelopment Areas in Tampa:  Central Park Village, Channel District, Downtown, Drew Park, East Tampa, Tampa Heights Riverfront, and Ybor City.  Each of the CRAs use a portion of property taxes collected within the areas to finance improvements outlined in their respective Community Redevelopment Plans.

Flavor of West Tampa Marketplace


Hello West Tampa Community!

It is that time of year again to plan for the Flavor of West Tampa.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday November 8th at MacFarlane Park from 10 am – 4 pm.

The West Tampa Chamber is hosting “Cafe con Leche with the Chamber” to kick off the event close to the main stage.

We are looking for vendors and small West Tampa business’ that want to be involved in the event to showcase and/or sell their goods.  This year we have a “Mainstreet West Tampa” alley that will feature a limited number of spaces for small independent business’ located in West Tampa. These spaces are sold at a reduced rate from the standard sponsorship levels of the event.

We also will have a Marketplace where vendors can sell ready to take items. Examples are jewelry, makeup, books, soaps, candles, etc.  Ready to eat foods are not permitted in this area as we have a section devoted to local restaurants and food trucks that sell food.

Please spread the word to your friends, neighbors and fellow business owners.

For more information or questions, please use the contact form below.


We look forward to a fun event again this year. Thank you to all who have participated previously for helping us grow and be a huge success every year!

West Tampa Chamber Member in the News

West Tampa Chamber Board Member Dawn Hudson is “WoW”

Working Women of Tampa Bay

April 28, 2014


Woman of the Week: Dawn Hudson of Sagicor Life Insurance Company

http://www.workingwomenoftampabay.com/Resources/Pictures/Dawn.jpgWhat does a wife, mom and life-long entrepreneur know about life insurance? “There are so many examples of why life insurance makes a difference, starting with me”. When Dad died, I was a college freshman at Loyola (Chicago). Mom said…Come back to FL! Get married! I can’t afford your tuition. (Please insert Life Insurance policy here!) Years later, married just six months, my husband’s father died. His estate included a 40 yr old Carrollwood business, real estate, too much baseball memorabilia and 9 adult children. (Please insert Life Insurance policy here!) Fact: It took 18 years to settle his estate.

Community Focus: Parent University

Parent University is a project of the Hillsborough County Public Schools



Parent University is a program designed to provide information to parents and other caregivers as they strive to support their child’s academic life. Sessions will focus on academic and support programs in Hillsborough County Public Schools, effective strategies families can use to help every child succeed, and ways to advocate for the resources necessary for our public schools.

Classes cover subjects such as:

Connecting your child to healthcare coverage

STEM (science, technology, engineering,math) an overview

Tips on how to choose an elementary, middle or high school

Transition to Middle School

Programs to support college and career readiness


To sign up for classes in the 2013-2014 school year, please go to: http://www.hillsboroughparentu.org/Sign_Up.html



Business Focus: SBA social media tips

10 Ways to Make Your Small Business Social Media Activities Rock


Social media may have the lowest cost of entry of any marketing tool, but is not actually that easy to do well. In fact, a report by eMarketer found that small businesses are struggling to adopt social media, with only 24 percent of small firms having integrated social media in a structured way into their operations.

Knowing where to start is perhaps the number one obstacle holding many small business owners back. Knowing what to do when you get there is next.

So, whether you are new to social media or looking to go beyond using it in an ad hoc or informal way, here are 10 ways to make your small business social media activities rock.

  1. Pick the Site(s) that Works for You

Social media sites are emerging on an almost weekly basis, and it’s easy to become distracted or lost in the speed of change. So where should you focus your efforts?

Speaking at last year’s National Small Business Week social media panel, Erica Ayotte, social media manager with Constant Contact, recommends businesses start with one channel to test and nurture it. Then try to diversify: “Spend a little time each week exploring new platforms and figure out if they might be for you.” Speaking at the same event, GrowBizMedia’s Rieva Lesonsky recommends that you “find out where your customers can be found, go there first, and then spread out from there… if you run a restaurant, yes, you probably should be on Twitter, but you should really be on Yelp first.”

  1. Share Interesting and Visual Content

This is one area that really does take time. What’s interesting anyway?

Well, let’s start with the basics. If you have any news to share, and by news I mean “newsworthy” (i.e. something that impacts your customers directly) then go ahead and share it – things like holiday opening times, new offices, menu updates, charity events, etc.

Then add another tier – share quality content. Something you do well that will help you stand out in a crowd – blogs, white papers, tips, or quick “how to” videos (host them on YouTube or Hulu).  Then use social media to amplify it. Feel free to share content from others (without breaking copyright) if it is relevant to your fans. Don’t be afraid to ask people what content they want you to share!

Another tier of content should focus on telling the big picture story of your business – showcase employees, community activities, or how customers are using your product or service. This is a great opportunity to be visual and stand-out in busy newsfeeds.

Remember, give it time. It takes time to figure out what works. For example, you might think about using polls and surveys to engage with followers, but if you are still growing your network, you might not get the right results – yet. So, keep trying new things until you find a sweet spot. And don’t forget, just because people may not be interacting with you yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening, so keep the faith!

For more tips read:

  1. Listen

Great content drives engagement and grows social communities, but equally important is the art of listening. Think of social media as a form of conversation – it’s a two-way dialog. If you’re not prepared to listen to what is being said to you, about you, or with you, then you simply aren’t “being social.” In addition to listening to your consumers, carve out time to listen to influencers in your business, to your competitors, and to those who can help you perfect your social media strategy (HubspotMari Smith, and Social Media Today, to name just a few).

  1. Have an Authentic Voice

Again, “be social!” Drop the corporate marketing speak; people like dealing with people. So don’t be afraid to loosen up a little and when responding to problems or complaints; sign off with your first name.

  1. Foster Fan-to-Fan Engagement

Some of the strongest social networking communities are based on supportive relationships and information sharing between fans. If you are posting interesting content, this will follow naturally as fans start to engage with others based on common interests. There are a few things you can do to encourage these relationships, many of them mentioned in this blog – listen to fans, chime in when you think you can add something, respond to comments, open the doors to shared experiences/needs, encourage fans to share photos and experiences and always communicate authentically (drop the corporate hat).

  1. Don’t Overly Automate

While there are some great free tools that can help you automate your posts, don’t overly rely on these to get you through the day – it will show. Instead, set aside some time, 2-3 slots a day to post (note that the evening is a high volume time to post and get noticed), monitor and respond to fans.

  1. Commit to Social Media

If you are truly going to succeed at social media, then you need to take it seriously and commit to it. For many small businesses, this means adopting a new paradigm. Don’t treat social media as an aside to be taken advantage of when you want to get the word out about your latest offer. Commit to a content strategy. Ensure all levels of the organization are on-board and are involved in your social media strategy. Don’t just assign daily responsibility for it to an office junior – this is the face of your business, after all, and it involves dialog with your customers (is a junior up to that?).

  1. Treat Social Media as an Arm of Your Customer Service Operations

Social media is also an essential part of your customer service strategy. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, then you need to be prepared to monitor and respond to questions and complaints. These blogs offer more advice on this topic:

  1. Don’t Forget Your Other Marketing Channels

Social media may be free, but it only works as part of a wider, integrated marketing strategy. It should never replace your website (which is the hub of all your marketing activity and the home of your online content). Email is also still important. You have a captive audience there; your message is delivered to their inboxes and allows for a deeper conversation.

  1. Measure

Don’t forget to measure the impact of your social media efforts. Use third party apps or Facebook’s Insights tool to monitor click-through rates. Compare these across posts to see if there’s a trend as to the type of content that’s popular. Measure engagement by tracking how many likes and shares your posts get (measured by Facebook as “reach”). Use this data to inform and adjust your content strategy.

Additional Articles

Here’s a selection of SBA blogs that can also help with key areas of your social media strategy:

About the Author

Caron_Beesley's Profile Picture

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Business Focus: Marketing tips

6 Marketing Tactics That Quickly Boost Sales

by Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger

You work hard to market your business, and you’ve succeeded—so well that you’re swamped with work and have no time to market your business. When you come up for air after finally finishing that big project or filling that huge order, you realize you’ve got no new business in the pipeline. Does this sound familiar? Striking a balance between running your business and marketing your business is a common problem for small business owners. The smaller or newer your business is, the bigger a problem it’s likely to be. After all, if you’re a one-person business, there’s no one to pick up the slack.

How can you make time for marketing when you barely have time to breathe? Here are some tips to help ensure you never drop the marketing ball again.


1. Develop a marketing plan. Making a plan will save you time in the long run. Figure out which marketing efforts bring in the most business, so that when you’re really crunched, you can put all your focus there. Plan what you’d like to do each day/week/month, as well as the “bare minimum” you’ll do when you don’t have time for the big picture.

2. Set aside time. Marketing is like having children: If you wait till the time is right, you’ll never do it. You have to make time. Set aside 20 percent of your work hours each week to devote to marketing, and keep it sacred. Without marketing, your business won’t survive for long.

Then try these quick tactics to bring in business fast…

  • Touch base with existing customers. It’s easier to make a new sale to an existing customer than to land a new customer, so go where the low-hanging fruit is. Get in touch with existing customers to see what they need, suggest new products or services they could buy from you based on their past purchases, or offer some special deals. You can even set up your CRM system to do this automatically so you can pretty much set it and forget it.
  • Request referrals. Let your current customers lead you to new customers. Quickly contact some existing customers (make sure they’re satisfied ones!) and see if there’s anyone they can refer you to who might want to buy what you sell. Be sure to follow up right away.
  • Do double duty. Build marketing into business tasks you already do. For example, when you send an invoice include a flier or a hyperlink about a special offer or deal. Include these when you ship product, too. When your salesperson or service person completes a transaction, have them hand customers coupons for $X off their next purchase or servicing. You get the idea.
  • Outsource what you can. Is there some menial marketing task you still handle because you think can’t afford to outsource it? Consider your hourly rate and whether you could pay someone to do it for less. If you’re struggling to design marketing brochures yourself, but you’re not an artist and your hourly rate is $200, could you find a designer for less? Most definitely—and you’ll free up your time for more productive things.
  • Network-in-place. Don’t have time to go to your usual networking event this week because you’re slammed? Instead, “network in place.” Bring business cards and be ready to promote your business wherever you go—the gym, the grocery store, the kids’ softball game, pumping gas. You never know who you might meet that could be a lead or a client. Don’t be pushy, but do listen and be ready to help.
  • Consider raising prices. If you feel like a hamster on a wheel and can barely keep pace with your workload, it might be time to raise your prices. This sounds counterintuitive, but consider: If you’re getting this much business as it is, how much more could you get if you had more time to market? Weed out the clients who are least likely to pay you more (often, you’ll realize these clients are your biggest headaches, too) and try raising prices on some of the others to see what works. You’ll have more time to work on marketing (and more money to spend on your marketing) because you’ll be making more profit for the same amount of effort.

About the Author

Rieva Lesonsky's Profile Picture

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She’s been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades