Rising Economic Development Star of the Week: Jake Austin
February 24, 2015
Jake Austin, 29, is the Director of Business Retention and expansion for the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation (Tampa EDC), Florida. DCI is pleased to honor him as a winner of our 40 Under 40 awards—the only award of its kind recognizing young talent in the economic development profession.
Since joining the Tampa EDC in November 2012, Jake has established valuable relationships with the local business community, spearheading efforts to create a stronger, more effective connection between government and industry, while actively pursuing new opportunities for job creation and investment. As a result, he has served as the lead project manager for 13 completed projects that have generated 755 new jobs and nearly $164 million in capital investment for eastern Hillsborough County.
In Jake’s key leadership position, he oversees a team of three business development managers in efforts to facilitate job growth and capital investment by Hillsborough County’s existing local businesses.
What have you learned so far in your career? I’ve learned that you don’t get very far on your own – especially in this exciting career! It takes an entire community and great leadership to attract those businesses that create the quality jobs we’re all after. It’s simply an honor to be a part of the process.
What’s the most overlooked issue facing economic development? The most overlooked issue is the importance of true regionalism. Our elected officials and government leaders will always be biased and that is understandable. However, their overall message to the community needs to be one that supports their neighbor’s efforts and wins.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself having a greater knowledge of the industry (as a whole) and contributing to the development of multiple communities at a strategic level.
What’s your passion for places? I appreciate a place or community that embraces their unique identity and strives to build on what they have while preserving their history and culture.
Prior to working with Tampa EDC, Jake enlisted in the U.S. Air Force following high school and served for six years before returning to college to earn a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from Western Kentucky University. This experience, combined with a foundation in rural economic development obtained as an associate project manager at The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, made him a natural fit for his initial role as project manager at the Tampa EDC.
Tampa EDC was established in 2009 as a partnership between the public sector and private corporate investors with the mission of attracting and retaining high-wage jobs and capital investment in Hillsborough County. Tampa EDC provides relocation services to domestic and international companies interested in growing their business in Hillsborough County, additionally giving businesses the tools they need to expand their operations and the resources to succeed. Learn more at www.tampaedc.com.