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Tampa’s ‘Resilience Roadmap’ Aims To Address Community Needs

Woman standing outside in front of a body water speaks at a podium. A man and a poster on a tripod are to her right, another woman signing is to her left.
City of Tampa
City of Tampa
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks at Sulphur Springs Park with Sustainability and Resilience Officer Whit Remer at a Thursday news conference on Tampa's Resilience Roadmap.

The final product of a year and a half of community engagement and feedback is a series of initiatives aimed at addressing issues Tampa residents face, from poverty to climate change.

As COVID-19 vaccinations increase, masks are coming off and people are starting to gather again. At the same time, Tampa is moving forward with direction from its “Resilience Roadmap.”

The roadmap is a product of a year and half of planning and collaboration, resulting in almost 60 different initiatives divided among four chapters: Opportunity for all Tampanians, Thriving Neighborhoods, Climate-Ready Infrastructure, and Growing and Connected City.

The idea for such a plan began in December 2019 when Tampa Mayor Jane Castor partnered with Resilient Cities Catalyst, an independent non-profit organization made up of international experts.

A key part to its development, according to Tampa’s Sustainability and Resilience Officer Whit Remer, was evaluating what “shocks and stressors” are prominent within the community. That was done through a series of workshops, focus groups, literature review, and surveys completed by 1,800 Tampa residents.

“We used a number of engagement tools and data and surveys to help really understand what was holding our city back and people in our city back from reaching their greatest potential,” said Remer.

A bulk of the concerns expressed by residents, according to Remer, involved housing affordability, transportation, workforce development, and transitioning to clean-energy use.

The Sustainability and Resilience Advisory Team, established halfway through the roadmap’s development, will continue to contribute to the project as it moves forward. The team includes members of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Port Tampa Bay, TECO Energy, and others involved in environmental justice.

“This is a broad and comprehensive look about what makes our people resilient, what makes our neighborhoods resilient, our financial, social, racial systems resilient and certainly our environment,” said Remer.

“I think that the advisory team plays a large part in implementation because they do represent a broad group of stakeholders, but we really are going to need community foundations, philanthropic dollars, (and) resources from across the community.”

Remer will be providing Castor with updates to the 58 initiatives of the roadmap every quarter.

“Really now is when the hard work truly begins,” said Remer. “We need the community to come together, we need to start looking at these initiatives and finding grant funds or partners or rearranging how we do things here within our own city hall to make sure that we're moving the needle on all these initiatives.”

Tampa’s “Resilience Roadmap” can be viewed here.

Jorgelina Manna-Rea is a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News intern for the fall of 2021, her second straight semester with WUSF.