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Emerge Tampa Bay Hosts Young Legislators Panel

June 6, 2016

Emerge Legislation Mark SharpeOn June 1st, #TeamElevate attended an event hosted by Emerge Tampa Bay, the young professionals group affiliated with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The event focused on inspiring young professionals to be involved in politics and government.

At the beginning of the event, Mark Sharpe shared with the group the opportunities available in the community for involvement. Mark is a former Hillsborough County Commissioner and currently serves as Executive Director of the Tampa Innovation Alliance. He understands the importance of a community that supports one another, “Tampa needs your voice. Tampa needs your support. Get involved.”

As the event progressed, a young professional panel took the stage to discuss legislation. The panel was moderated by Adam Smith, the Political Director of the Tampa Bay Times. Panelists were Florida State Representatives Chris Sprowls, Ed Narain and Jamie Grant. All three of these representatives are under the age of 40 and shared their hope for Tampa’s younger citizens to let their voice be heard.

Statistically, citizens between the ages of 18-34 are less politically engaged than any other voting age bracket. The concern the panelists all shared was the rising influence of millennials and their lack of engagement in their government, especially in the Tampa Bay area.

When Chris Sprowls was asked how his age has affected his politics, he revealed that he sees it as an asset. Overall, the panel agreed that their youth combined with their passion surprised business leaders and was seen as beneficial rather than as a hindrance. Jamie Grant commented that “government cannot create innovators” and that the millennial innovators perspective and opinions are vital to progress.

As the night continued, the panel focused heavily on the upcoming election in Tampa Bay, and on the reconsideration of a 20-year plan to raise sales taxes by a half-cent to support our increasing issues in transportation.

Hillsborough County is near the size and population of the state of Delaware. In this area alone, we are seeing a high number of millennials making Tampa their home. Millennials are increasingly supportive of effective public transit, but without their involvement in local government and politics, their wishes may never be addressed.

Each panelist agreed that the issues of transportation in Tampa and the lack of transit must be addressed. However, each had their own opinion on how they resolve the issues. Ultimately, the choice is up to the people of Tampa Bay. As Ed Narain pointed out, Tampa Bay wants and needs to keep the millennials and the next generation of great business leaders in this city. Tackling transportation and providing options for transit is one of the ways this will be done.

At Elevate, Inc. we are dedicated to inspiring young professionals to step up and take initiative in the community. Visit our website or visit the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s website and get involved!

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