News from the Top

Tampa Mayor Proves Her Leadership


There is so much to consider as the novel variant impacts our communities precisely as predicted months ago. Might this be the typical experience of the “endemic” and an early example of what we should expect each season much like the flu? With full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, will vaccination rates begin to sore? Will more local government and private sector businesses require vaccinations or regular testing and mask-wearing? How will these variables impede the important work of building great cities and neighborhood communities?

I’m convinced leadership will win the day. Just last week Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced that all city employees are to be fully vaccinated by September 30th.  Great news for IDA with the annual conference just three weeks later. Similar actions are being taken across the country. Even more expansive, the California legislature is considering various bills to empower both government and private sector employers with clear direction regarding mandates for vaccinations, weekly testing, and masks for unvaccinated. Thus far, courts in Texas, Iowa and other states have sided with private sector and public sector employers who require vaccinations except when a health or religious exemption is granted. 

I’ve spoken with many IDA member CEOs struggling with how best to proceed. Most apparent to me is everyone’s deep passion and desire to demonstrate their leadership by maintaining a visible presence in their district. It’s not easy, and I hear time and again – we are in the place business, we stand with our members and the city, and we must live up to our leadership role as city building professionals.  

The prolonged nature of the COVID pandemic is taking its toll on each one of us.  This is why engaging with one another has never been so important. Unfortunately, there is no magic end date to this conflict – unless, of course, COVID can be eradicated by global vaccination. Barring that, we find ourselves learning to operate as the endemic continues. I look forward to welcoming IDA members to our event at the end of October, where together we can recharge, energize and further understand how to lead our communities back to a healthy and engaged world.

Already we have more registered attendees for the October conference than our 2016 conference in Atlanta, and plans continue to evolve to ensure an extraordinary experience.  In addition to the existing health protocols found on the IDA website, attendees will receive a link tomorrow to upload proof of vaccination or intent to bring proof of a negative test with them to Tampa.  We fully expect that 90+ percent of IDA members will be fully vaccinated and on-site health screenings will be available.

This conference is quickly growing to become the most needed leadership event of the past decade where together we will emerge renewed and armed with a capacity to meet next year’s challenges head-on.  Understandably not everyone is comfortable traveling; however, it’s become abundantly clear that most CEOs and Executive leaders will attend. Meet Mayor Jane Castor at the opening general session and learn how her leadership, and that of others, is changing perceptions of their city. Connect with other IDA leaders and get insights into how they are managing the uncertainties.  Together, let’s make this Annual Conference & Marketplace our next step toward combatting the pandemic and its effect on our communities.