Front Row Tampa Bay in the News: “RNC Comes to Tampa Bay and the region has big plans to share the spotlight” | FORWARDFlorida

Front Row

July 3, 2012 | Cover Story | Features | By Michael Candelaria


Dr. Alan List, who becomes CEO of Moffitt in July, says Front Row Tampa Bay provides a “national stage.” Moffitt COO Jack Kolosky calls the RNC a “golden opportunity.”

The Republican National Convention comes to Tampa Bay, bringing politics and a potential economic showcase. The region has big plans to share the spotlight.

Florida has played a pivotal role in presidential politics for more than a decade, with Tampa Bay squarely (and geographically) in the middle of the action, along with the adjoining Interstate 4 corridor that comprises Florida’s Super Region. And since that time, the I-4 corridor has increased its political clout, becoming an indisputable bellwether during national races by virtue of a demographic mix that almost mirrors the nation’s plus sheer numbers as the fourth most populous state.

So for Tampa Bay, hosting the 2012 Republican National Convention, and all the fanfare that surrounds it, is a natural.

Yet, politics aside, Tampa Bay and the Super Region have the business and economic prowess to justify selection, too. And, with mounting eagerness and ambition, regional officials are intent on proving it—not only for Tampa Bay but across the entire state.

Clearly, there are plenty of economics attached to the RNC (taking place Aug. 27-30 for those who’ve been hiding under a rock). Approximately 50,000 people are expected to visit solely for the Convention, including some 15,000 credentialed media. (That’s an international press corps second only in size to this summer’s London Olympic Games.) Also, thanks to the Internet and social media, the Convention proceedings will reach millions upon millions of individuals from across the globe.

We’re talking huge.

Those visiting the area will consume an estimated 15,000 hotel room-nights and lead to an region-wide impact of some $200 million in new dollars, given that Denver reported a regional economic impact of $266.1 million from the 2008 Democratic National Convention, while Minneapolis-St. Paul cited a nearly $170 million windfall from the 2008 Republican National Convention.

A nice economic boost for sure.

Also, with all that media attention, even stories having nothing to do the Convention will abound. And, mind you, there is some credence to the old saying, “All publicity is good, except an obituary notice.”

Those impressive tallies are only part of the story. For the region’s economic developers, those impacts represent, with apologies for a Titanic reference during the golden anniversary, the mere tip of the iceberg. (By the way, the 1912 Republican National Convention was held in Chicago, where the party nominated William Howard Taft for re-election).



Enter Front Row Tampa Bay.

In conjunction with the Convention, Front Row Tampa Bay is four days of major business forums and events that will be aired before live audiences and, through web TV, the world. The programming, business networking and events will be headquartered at Stageworks Theatre, located less than a mile from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, site of the Convention. The action, featuring next-level film technology, will also include remote feeds via Livestream from across the Tampa Bay region.

The goal is to create live discussions, complemented by numerous stage setting, backgrounds and guests.

The primary topics encompass healthy communities; technology and innovation; business, financial and data services; marine and environmental activities; and “The Florida Experience,” covering quality of life topics. Programming also includes “Top of the Day,” a daily 15- to 30-minute segment that recaps what happened the day and night before, peeks behind the scenes, and previews what lies ahead. For example, officials such as Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute COO Jack Kolosky (shown on the magazine cover) will lead discussions about forging innovation and enhancing lives. Scheduled co-hosts are veteran journalists Kathy Fountain and Frank Robertson. Presently, organizers are building out programming, launching a massive marketing campaign and securing sponsors. In early May, 18 economic development and business organizations signed on as supporting groups. The plan is to continue partnering with various entities and add their audiences, thereby expanding the reach. They will also be given the opportunity to host the live broadcast stream on their websites.

The technology and production is being spearheaded by The Victory Group Inc., a Tampa-based full-service communications, media and imaging firm with deep roots in political coverage. Last September, the company was in Orlando live-streaming Presidency 5, the Florida Republican Party Convention, and producing more than 10 hours of “live television” with co-anchors and reporters. The effort generated 2.1 million impressions—serving as toes in the water for the current massive plans.

Also notably, The Victory Group is joined by Tampa’s Matchpoint Studios, another of the industry’s fixtures in production and post-production.

As a result, Front Row, in highly targeted fashion, could reach an estimated total of 3 million people.

“Front Row Tampa Bay’s communications platform will enable the Tampa Bay community to deliver a focused business and economic development message, highlighting the region’s unique assets to a highly targeted list of C-level executives and key influencers who can benefit from being a part of our compelling story,” affirms Stuart Rogel, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership, which serves eight Tampa Bay-area counties. “Politics aside, it’s an opportunity to make sure that we shine.

“We’re not trying to be everything to everybody. We’re going to host a key group of folks. We’re going to deliver key messages to a targeted audience.

“We see the Republican National Convention as the ‘Super Bowl’ for business and a great opportunity for Tampa Bay,” Rogel adds. “Front Row Tampa Bay provides the business community with a unique and far-reaching platform to tell the rest of the nation that our region, and the State of Florida, is a tremendous place to live, work and play.”


Emphasis on region and Florida.

While acknowledging that the RNC is virtually a once-in-a-lifetime event for Tampa Bay, Rogel’s message is: “Tampa Bay welcomes you to Florida.” His belief is that Tampa Bay is the gateway to the entire Florida experience—an experience that doesn’t begin and end at the borders of the region. “This isn’t a Tampa Bay convention,” he asserts. “It’s something that will impact everyone in the state.”

Further, he contends that Tampa Bay is on the cutting edge of regionalism, where the area isn’t necessarily identified by cities and towns, but by the pooling together of a large area, working in concert. As proof, among the many initial supporting partners of Front Row Tampa Bay are the Florida Economic Development Council, Pasco County Economic Development, Manatee Economic Development Corp., Hernando County Office of Business Development, Citrus County Economic Development Council, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Pinellas County Economic Development and Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County.

Rogel describes a March morning, when he traveled to a breakfast meeting in Sarasota. There, associates were huddling to figure out a way to raise the $50 million in private funds needed to host delegates. On his way back to Tampa, he talked on the phone with someone from Bradenton who had a similar challenge. Then a call came in from Orlando. Ditto.

“From a practical and pragmatic point of view, the Super Region in Florida has to come together to be able to make this [RNC] happen,” Rogel says. “And it’s really a Super Region and a Florida message that we’re delivering.”

More evidence of regionalism: In July, one month before the Convention, Leadership Orlando, an operating line of the Central Florida Partnership, will be in Tampa, meeting with the Tampa Bay Partnership’s CEO Direct program about the “Connecting for Global Competitiveness-Florida’s Super Region” initiative and taking an area tour. More collaboration. “We are always looking for ways to explore Florida’s Super Region,” says Leadership Orlando President Ruth Mustian about her group’s regional approach.

That Super Region, notably, consists of 14 counties coast to coast and combines for the ninth-largest economy in the nation, as well as the 40th largest worldwide.

As chair of BusinessForce in Orlando, another operating line of the Central Florida Partnership and Florida’s largest regional political action committee, Jay Galbraith sees the action in motion. “The stage we’re in right now is let’s make sure the entire region—from St. Pete all the way to Daytona—is held in the best light,” says Galbraith, also vice president of state and industry affairs for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which owns Busch Gardens Tampa, among other parks. “While the city of Tampa gets to host it, and we’re thrilled about that fact, it’s really hosted the state of Florida.

“When people leave the Convention, I think they will realize that Florida, from an economic standpoint, is a much different place from where their initial impressions maybe were.”


Case in point: the innovations at Moffitt Cancer Center, particularly in personalized medicine, robotics and radiation oncology. The RNC, says Kolosky, makes the timing ideal to get the word out.

“This is huge for us. This is an opportunity for Moffitt to tell our story to a fairly unique audience. And we’re really excited,” he says, noting that Moffitt will co-sponsor portions of the healthcare and technology & innovation segments of Front Row Tampa Bay, making itself an integral part of “interesting, provocative” programming.

Although widely recognized in scientific and medical circles, Moffitt is largely an unknown to the general public. Established in 1986, Moffitt is a relatively young organization but has grown to become the third-largest cancer center in the nation, based on the number of new patients treated. “When we make that statement, it really shocks a lot of people,” Kolosky says.

Similarly, while Moffitt has moved to the forefront in areas such as personalized medicine, robotics and radiation oncology, the advancements don’t necessarily register among potential patients. Kolosky expects that fact to change.

“It’s an opportunity to tell the world what we are and who we are. You want to look your best and put on your best. But I think we’re more than capable of doing that,” he says.

“Moffitt telling its story is not a onetime event. We’ll have other chances. But this is a golden opportunity that we will not miss.”

Adds Dr. Alan List, executive vice president and physician-in-chief at Moffitt, who is poised to become CEO in July: “Front Row Tampa Bay will provide a national stage for Moffitt Cancer Center to showcase our efforts toward contributing to the prevention and cure of cancer. Just one example is Total Cancer Care, which is our signature comprehensive approach to treating all the needs of our patients and families and ultimately personalizing treatment. It’s about ensuring that the patient receives the right treatment at the right time to optimize outcomes for the individual.”


If only Moffitt could direct the attention of the media as effectively as it delivers healthcare. Key to the creation of Front Row Tampa Bay, as well as key to its ultimate success, is rising above the potential “noise” of 15,000 media people, who will doubtless be tempted to focus on negative topics such as joblessness, foreclosures and homelessness. Those issues are quite real but, in this instance, off-point for the Front Row cause.

“The biggest challenge we’ve got is clutter,” says Goodman of The Victory Group, whose personal credits range from major statewide candidate and initiative triumphs to public campaigns for new airports, new schools and tax relief.

“The biggest challenge is that everybody out there is kind of going after the same idea: How do I make a difference? How do I make a connection? Front Row provides a point of entry into a conversation that will get heard.

“If we do our job well, we’ll already be winners by the time the Convention opens.”

Not an easy task, concedes Renee Dabbs, The Victory Group COO, senior producer and client coordinator. “How can we communicate the business strategy? And how can we create a place where people can network during the convention? Everything is being done to answer those two questions,” she offers.

With the chief topics identified, work is ongoing in enlisting the aid of the Jack Kolosky’s of the world: knowledgeable and likeminded leaders. “We’re not just producing a television show; we’re creating a community—a community that will come from the convention and live on well past the convention,” says Dabbs. “It’s a collaborative community that is coming together to tell stories in different places. … This is just the beginning of the communication, not the end.”

In a sense, you can call the ambitious Front Row effort “Tampa Bay Shines” on steroids. Tampa Bay Shines is a campaign to “accentuate more positive details about both the greater metro area and some legitimately cool things happening here.” The goal is to share literally dozens of authentic examples of what’s good about doing business and living in Tampa Bay—quick facts, accolades and reminders. Then the best of what makes Tampa Bay shine are presented in ads and via social media, leading up to the RNC. All is done in hopes of portraying a more balanced picture of Tampa Bay.

It’s part of the runway to much brighter lights. With the RNC as the backdrop, Rogel and the Tampa Bay Partnership, along with scores of others, are busy setting a stage to make their own sounds and images. It’s a story of regional economic opportunity. Eager to tell it, they are setting the stage.

“If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity,” Rogel concludes, “we’re crazy.”

Florida Hospital

A Story of Expansion

Among others joining the Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, as part of Front Row Tampa Bay’s discussion of healthcare, is Florida Hospital. The story there: an expanding footprint, one that includes Tampa Bay.

In September 2011, University Community Health united with Florida Hospital Zephyrhills and Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel to form the new Florida Hospital Tampa Bay Division. UCH had sought a larger partner able to provide size, scope and access to capital. Similarly, with Florida Hospital in Zephryhills located in a fast-growing area, the advantages of a partner facility emerged, giving life to another Florida Hospital in burgeoning Wesley Chapel. And the expansion has continued.

The Tampa Bay Division now consists of Florida Hospital Tampa (the former University Community Hospital), Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute (the former Pepin Heart Hospital), Florida Hospital Carrollwood (the former University Community Hospital-Carrollwood), Florida Hospital at Connerton Long Term Acute Care (the former University Community Health Long Term Acute Care Hospital at Connerton), Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital and Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.

The expansion, according to John Harding, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Division, also brings heightened services. “We are committed to elevating healthcare in Tampa Bay through greater patient access and higher quality of care,” he says. “We are focused on making systemwide enhancements through capital investments, technological advancements, research innovation, strategic healthcare alliances, community outreach, and recruiting and retaining the very best talent.”

Over the next five years, the organization is investing approximately $500 million in Tampa Bay to complete clinical and facility enhancements.

Another impressive story for the Front Row Tampa Bay audience.

A Story of Medical Innovation


Moffitt Cancer Center is a recognized leader in research and contributions to cancer-related clinical trials, prevention and control. Now, Moffitt has even more reasons for acclaim: advancements in personalized medicine, radiation oncology and robotics. (And it will use the Republican National Convention to help tell the world.)

Personalized Medicine

In February, Moffitt announced the creation of a personalized medicine institute—with Moffitt President and CEO Dr. Bill Dalton dedicating his entire focus to the endeavor. In July, Dalton becomes CEO of subsidiary M2Gen, while Dr. Alan F. List replaces him as CEO of Moffitt, and Dr. Thomas A. Sellers assumes Dalton role of Moffitt center director.

M2Gen is partnering with Merck and other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to launch the first clinical trials in which patients have been recruited using the world’s largest cancer-focused bio-repository. The approach speeds the clinical trial process, giving cancer patients faster access to drugs that are a good match for their unique genetic characteristics. M2Gen will operate in conjunction with Moffitt’s Total Cancer Care, one of the largest cancer tumor bio-repositories and data warehouses in the United States. Moffitt has Total Cancer Care consortium members in 10 states.

Also, Moffitt recently joined hands with the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Florida Hospital to extend personalized medicine into areas such as diabetes and heart disease. The goal is take lifesaving research from discovery to widespread patient dissemination.

Radiation Oncology

Moffitt’s radiosurgery facility, the SABR Center, is one of the few cancer facilities in the country to offer enough millimeter accuracy to remove or reduce tumors anywhere in the body. While every tumor has its own blueprint, and tumors are sometimes hard to reach and treat through traditional surgery and procedures, stereotactic radiosurgery uses “pinpoint” radiation beams to deliver high dosages of treatment to the tumor target. Personalized medicine is achieved there, as well, according to Moffitt officials.


Meanwhile, the robotic minimally invasive surgeries of the da Vinci Surgical System are still making news four years after their introduction at Moffitt. Essentially, the da Vinci system allows more surgeons to perform complex procedures using a minimally invasive approach. Surgeons can operate through tiny incisions with greater vision, precision and control. The result is increased clinical capability while maintaining the same look and feel of open surgery. With the surgeon sitting at a console, viewing a 3-D image of the surgical field, the system translates the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient.

About Jack Kolosky

John A. (Jack) Kolosky has made a 30-year career of healthcare leadership. He joined the Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in November 1999 and currently serves as executive vice president/COO. In that role, he provides oversight of Moffitt’s operations, information technology and financial areas, among other duties.

Prior to Moffitt, Kolosky served as the chief financial officer for the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and as the associate vice president and chief financial officer of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Kolosky received a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Western Illinois University and an MBA in Finance from Drake University. He holds a Certificate from the Harvard University School of Public Health and is a Certified Public Accountant. Also, Kolosky is a Fellow in the Healthcare Financial Management Association, a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is active in a number of other professional organizations.

About the 2012 Republican National Convention

The 2012 Republican National Convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Aug. 27-30.

Organized and managed by the Committee on Arrangements of the Republican National Committee, the Convention will host 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. The Convention will also include approximately 15,000 credentialed media and, thanks to the Internet, a global audience.

Georgia National Committeeman Alec Poitevint serves as chair of the Committee on Arrangements. Wyoming National Committeewoman Jan Larimer and Wisconsin National Committeewoman Mary Buestrin serve as co-chairs. Convention leadership veteran William D. Harris serves as Convention CEO, the same position he held in 2004. Harris was the Convention director for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. Michael V. Miller, a veteran of 13 conventions, serves as Convention COO.

Nearly 150 staffers will eventually live, dine and shop in Tampa Bay in preparation of the event. Plus, roughly 50,000 people are expected to visit the Tampa Bay area during the gathering.

2012 marks the third time the Republican Party convenes its convention in Florida. The others were held in Miami Beach, 1968 and 1972, both nominating Richard Nixon.


The past five Republican National Conventions, beginning in 1992, were held in Houston, San Diego, 1996; Philadelphia, 2000; New York City, 2004; and Minneapolis, 2008. Chicago has hosted the most RNCs, 14 (plus 11 Democratic National Conventions).

While The Victory Group has many clients in the corporate, not-for-profit, municipal and community initiatives arenas, the company has made a name for itself by working with big political names—an impressive list of officials in Florida and across the state. Among the Florida headliners: Attorney General Pam Bondi; Florida CFO Jeff Atwater; Senate President Mike Haridopolis; House Speaker Dean Cannon; Sen. Don Gaetz; Rep. Will Weatherford; former governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist; former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings; and former Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Charles H. Bronson. National headliners include Arizona Sen. John McCain; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Wisconsin governor and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson; and former New Jersey governor and former U.S. Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Christine Whitman.

What They’re Saying

“With so much attention on Tampa Bay during the RNC, the Tampa Bay Technology Forum is excited to be a part of the project that will grab the attention of our relevant audiences, placing Tampa Bay on the map as a hub for innovation and showcasing its diverse collection of cutting-edge research and technology institutions.” 

      Heather Kenyon, President/CEO, Tampa Bay Technology Forum


“Front Row is using state-of-the-art interactive platforms to blend live and remote feeds, first-in-the-field control room switchers, and dynamic theatre staging, all broadcast to targeted audiences via the web through the biggest provider of live stream technology in the world.”

     JP Manterola, Director of Matchpoint Studios


“The Republican National Convention is a terrific opportunity for Florida to put its best foot forward as a great place to live, work and play.”

     Andy Corty, President and Publisher of Florida Trend Magazine


“Front Row Tampa Bay provides the opportunity for the St. Petersburg Chamber to share the exciting stories of entrepreneurship, innovation and business growth taking place among its membership and beyond, throughout the city of St. Petersburg and across the Tampa Bay region. It’s a truly collaborative effort across the region that we’re excited and proud to be a part of.”  

     Chris Steinocher, President & CEO, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce


“With Front Row Tampa Bay, the Partnership’s economic development partners across Tampa Bay’s eight counties are provided a platform to elevate their messages above the clutter during the RNC, reaching their targeted, relevant audiences with positive messages about the Tampa Bay business community. This project represents the mission of the Partnership: to work with its regional partners to market the region nationally and internationally, to conduct regional research, and to coordinate efforts to influence business and government issues that impact economic growth and development.”

     Vincent Dolan, President/ CEO, Progress Energy Florida and Chair, Tampa Bay Partnership


“The Republican National Convention has provided us with an incredible opportunity to showcase our community to the world. We’re very excited to play a role in the Tampa Bay Partnership’s ‘Front Row Tampa Bay’ initiative. It will allow us to market the region through a unique, innovative platform while establishing a precedent for increased regional collaboration moving forward.”

     Rick Homans, President/CEO, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.


“Front Row Tampa Bay will showcase to the world the fantastic quality of life and economic opportunities that our region offers. Bringing together business leaders, newsmakers and the brightest minds across a range of industries, it will spotlight the innovation, creativity and forward-looking energy that is percolating in this community. Tampa Bay’s business community has a powerful story to tell, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies is delighted to join as a partner in this effort to help share that story across the United States and beyond.”

     Harry Costello, Executive Vice President/General Manager, Hill+Knowlton Strategies


“I am really excited about the support Tampa Bay Partnership is giving tech startups like SendHub. Tampa Bay has produced many awesome entrepreneurs—representing every part of the region—and it’s great that we are promoting our brand as a hub of innovation. All of the buzz surrounding the RNC events will add incredible momentum.” 

     Garrett Jonson, Cofounder, SendHub

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