The Tampa Downtown Partnership is a nonprofit organization that works to cultivate the joining of private and public resources to increase economic development in Downtown Tampa. With 225 member companies consisting of 66,500 employees and 8,100 residents, this partnership is backing the All for Transportation referendum that would levy a 1% additional sales tax on non-medical, non-food goods to fund transportation and transit improvements, if approved. The plan has the support of Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and a major player in the $3 billion entertainment district being built around Amalie Arena. “The Tampa Downtown Partnership believes it is time for Hillsborough County to invest in funding measures that will offer a variety of transportation and transit options to be made available for our citizens. ‘All for Transportation’ is a long-term investment that provides the funding, planning and implementation strategy to take aggressive and responsible action on transportation issues that will improve the quality of life in our community,” the group wrote in a statement. The desire to nurture the live-work-play lifestyle that is vital to downtown commerce, living and recreation, is what inspired the group to make the decision to back the referendum. The goal of the initiative is to raise $289 million a year with 45% going to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in the hope that it will provide increased transit options including a new bus network. The other 55% would go to Hillsborough County and the three cities within the county for use on road projects like pedestrian and bike lanes, trails, traffic technology, road & bridge repairs and to complete street projects. If the referendum makes it to the ballot in November, the outcome will depend upon voter turnout. According to University of South Florida School of Public Affairs professor, Stephen Neely, “Because the economy is strong, voters are more likely to accept marginal tax increases if the initiative is seen as legitimate and beneficial.” “If local business leaders are able to effectively present it as being positive for economic development in Hillsborough County, they will likely be able to succeed.”
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