Signs of a multi-billion urban redevelopment project in downtown Tampa are just starting to pop up. Over the next few years, a new convention hotel, office skyscraper and more retail development will be coming to the area.

NAED South Central Attendees See Sunny Economic Climate in 2017

NAED South Central Region Conference returned to the Marriott Tampa Waterside Hotel this week, and attendees are looking forward to a decent business year in 2017. Their optimism may have been buoyed during the ride to the hotel along Tampa’s waterfront, where the first signs of more than $6 billion in urban redevelopment  is taking shape.

Much of the new construction is part of a massive project engineered by the Strategic Property Partners (SPP) co-owned by Jeff Vinik , owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment. According to a Dec. 2016 article in the Tampa Bay Times, “The SPP plan also calls for a new 400- to 500-room luxury hotel, a 650,000-square-foot office tower and more than 300,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will be built in downtown Tampa, as will an adjacent office building to house health-related businesses.”

At the NAED conference, the seminar, “Manufacturer Consolidation: Impact on Distribution,” by Mike Marks, managing partner of Indian River Consulting Group (, got high marks for its insight into the latest wave of manufacturing acquisition, and  his analysis of financial and return-on investment (ROI) metrics used by private equity firms making some of these acquisitions. Marks said a driving force behind many of these acquisitions is the need by these private equity firms to produce returns “well above 20% on their invested capital” for their investors, and is one of the reasons, “Manufacturers need to grow or die, while distributors need to grow fast enough to keep manufacturers happy.”

Another big event at the meeting was GE Industrial’s breakfast meeting with their distributors in the NAED South Central Region, where Gary Arnott, general manager, and other company leaders updated the audience on the company’s investment in new products and sales tools while its parents are positioning this legacy division of GE for divestiture by year-end 2017.  Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, announced plans to sell GE Industrial during an investor presentation in December 2016.

During the Tuesday morning meeting Arnott said his division is looking at sold business prospects for 2017 and growth in the 7% to 9% range.  His comments at the meeting focused on several recent product launches, including a new line switchgear, the GuardEon circuit breaker, EntellEon panelboard and the GE PanelScan panelboard configuration tool now in beta testing.

“We wanted to stress that investments continue at pre-announcement pace,” said Arnott.

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