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20 sparks from Ignite Tampa Bay

Margie Manning



Mark Sharpe, chief potential officer at !P, was emcee for Ignite Tampa Bay 2019.

Ideas ranging from creating more affordable housing to saving whales took center stage at Ignite Tampa Bay.

Nineteen speakers had 20 slides and five minutes each to describe their passion at the Thursday night gathering at the Palladium Theater.

“Tonight you’re going to hear 20 ideas – I call them sparks – that I think are going to help ignite Tampa Bay,” said Mark Sharpe, chief potential officer at !p, and emcee for the event.

!p is a 25,000-acre district in northern Hillsborough County that surrounds the University of South Florida Tampa campus, including the former University Mall. The mall, now renamed Uptown, is being transformed into a research village. The Hillsborough County Commission is putting more than $5 million towards an Institute of Applied Engineering at the site. The nearby Yuengling brewery plans a hotel and conference center.

“We are turning the university area around,” Sharpe said. “As Tampa Bay, if we unite I’m certain there’s no region in this nation that can compete with us.”

Click on the gallery to see the 19 other “sparks” from Ignite Tampa Bay.

Ignite 2019

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Seaworld has been under fire after the documentary Blackfish showed poor treatment of whales in captivity. Shane Smith agreed changes are needed, but also argued that organizations such as Seaworld that study whales are vital. “When we go to sea aquariums we are drawn in by entertainment, but it’s the education that leads us into conservation of these creatures.”

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