Tampa, Florida

Tampa-Skyline-1.jpg

Overview

The church in Tampa was established in 1991. The following year, the Lord provided the financial means for the church to purchase a large two-story house on 2 acres, less than 5 miles from the University of South Florida campus. It was remodeled to have a seating capacity for up to 180 saints. There are presently 60 saints on average gathering weekly for the Lord’s table. Besides the meetings on the Lord’s Day for all ages, groups of saints gather in various homes and virtually during the week throughout the Tampa Bay area. For many years, there has been a burden for the University of South Florida, and local saints have labored faithfully to contact and gain students. However, after over two decades of prayer, a campus team has not yet been raised up. We believe the time for that to happen is now and are praying that during these next couple of years, the Lord will lead some younger saints to migrate here to serve full-time on this campus. Others will also come to open their homes, refrigerators, and Recovery Versions to serve together in coordination for the Lord’s interest.

Location, Climate, and Health

Tampa is located in the center and on the west coast, the Gulf of Mexico side of the Florida peninsula. Being centrally located in the state makes drive times to the other nine localities in Florida very convenient, as seen in the chart below. It’s also only a 7-hour trip north by car to Atlanta, GA:

Locality Drive Time
Orlando 1:45
Sebring 2:00
Fort Myers 2:00
Gainesville 2:15
Jacksonville 3:30
Boca Raton 3:45
Ft. Lauderdale 4:00
Tallahassee 4:15
Miami 4:15

Tampa has four distinct seasons with very mild winters and warm and humid summers. Temperature highs range from 70° to 90° and lows in the 50’s to 70’s, making outdoor activities possible year-round. The average annual rainfall is about 51 inches annually, yet Tampa is also a very sunny city with an average of 67% sunny days each year.

Climate Averages: Tampa, FL United States
Rainfall 50.6 in. 38.1 in.
Snowfall 0.0 in. 27.8 in.
Precipitation 104.9 days 106.2 days
Sunny 246 days 205 days
Avg. July High 90.3o 85.8o
Avg. Jan. Low 51.6o 21.7o
Comfort Index (higher=better) 6.8 7.0
UV Index 6.9 4.3

The Tampa Bay area has two major health care systems: BayCare and HCA Healthcare. Tampa and its surrounding suburbs host over 20 hospitals, four trauma centers, and multiple cancer treatment centers. Tampa is also home to many health research institutions. There are hundreds of animal medical centers in the region, including the Humane Society of America. Some hospitals of distinction and particular specialties are listed below:

  • Tampa General Hospital is ranked among the top four hospitals in Florida and also as one of the nation’s top 50 hospitals in five medical specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2021-2022
  • Moffitt Cancer Center on the USF campus is Florida’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Advent Health Hospital with the Pepin Heart Institute
  • Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute at USF is both a prominent research facility and patient care center
  • St. Joseph’s Children’s & Women’s Hospital
  • Shriners Hospitals for Children Headquarters
  • James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, Tampa
  • C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, St. Petersburg

Demographics

Tampa has a population of nearly 400,000 people. The average age of the residents is 35. In 2021, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area in Florida ranked in the top ten in population growth, with a total of 3.1 million people. The current racial makeup of the Tampa metro area is 66% white, 26% Hispanic, 23% African American and 4.5% Asian / Pacific Islander.

Campuses

The University of South Florida (USF) is Tampa’s major university, with a total enrollment of 50,000 students. According to the U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings over the past 10 years, USF is America’s fastest-rising university. It is now in the top 50 of the best public universities.

Hillsborough Community College (HCC) is the fifth-largest community college in Florida’s State College System. It serves more than 42,000 students each year at its five campuses, three centers, and online platform in the Tampa Bay area.

The University of Tampa is a medium-sized private university, and its globally connected campus is the beating heart of a vibrant urban oasis. A distinguished faculty and approximately 9,600 students from all 50 states and 132 countries are joined in a university ranked among the best.

St. Petersburg College (SPC) has 11 learning sites and serves a diverse base of students in Pinellas County. It currently has more than 53,000 enrolled students.

Schools

Public schools: The three main counties where the saints live in the Tampa Bay area are Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. According to the U.S. News and World Report rankings, nine of the top twenty Tampa Bay schools are in Hillsborough County. There is a cluster of saints around the #2 Steinbrenner and #4 Sickles high schools in the Carrollwood and Town and Country areas, respectively. There are also the long-standing communities of Tampa Palms and New Tampa, which are close to the USF campus and have top-rated elementary schools that feed students into the community’s high schools. Many saints also live in the Wesley Chapel and Land O’ Lakes area, bordering Pasco County, which boasts 3 top twenty high schools: WiregrassSunlake, and Land O’ Lakes, which is home to a top-rated IB program. Pinellas County is across Tampa Bay and is home to Palm Harbor University High School, which has a highly recognized IB program. Hillsborough Virtual School, or HVS, is ranked 19th in the Tampa Bay area and allows students to earn a high school degree online.

Private schools: There are also several highly-rated K-8 Christian and K-12 private schools in the region. Carrollwood Day School and Corbett Preparatory School of IDS both have excellent ratings for academics, teachers, and college preparation.

Homeschooling: Education at home is permitted, and there is a well-established program for children from elementary school through high school in the Tampa Bay area. Thousands of families are successfully homeschooling in Tampa. Many local and online resources make the initiation into home education convenient and manageable. There are also families in the church life who have many years of experience with homeschooling.

Housing

Tampa is one of the best places to live in Florida. Residing in Tampa offers residents an urban-suburban feel, and excellent neighborhoods are located close to the meeting hall and USF. The saints are scattered throughout the Tampa Bay area, with a larger number in the Wesley Chapel area, just to the north of the hall and USF. Other nearby residential neighborhoods include Temple Terrace, Tampa Palms, and New Tampa.

The table below offers suggestions of neighborhoods where saints now live with some basic data about those areas. This information has been compiled from Redfin.com, a good resource for exploring neighborhoods all over Tampa.

Neighborhood Median price home/rent Families 
Nearby
Min. to
the Hall
Min. to
USF
Public
Schools
Family
Friendly
Wesley Chapel $440,000 / $2,453 10 20–25 20–25 A- A
New Tampa $445,000 / $2,408 4 20–25 15–20 B+ A+
Brandon/Riverview $412,995 / $2,395 7 25–30 25–30 B+ A
Westchase $630,000 / $3,100 6 25–30 25–30 A- A+
Town n’ Country $395,000 / $2,448 6 25–30 25–30 B+ A
St. Petersburg $410,500 / $2,800 5 35–40 40–45 A+ A+

Economy

The Tampa metro area was the #1 ranked emerging technology city in the U.S. and listed in the top ten best places to start a business. In 2021, the Tampa metro area gained the most private-sector jobs of all similar regions in the state. Other rankings of note include:

  • Tampa is No. 3 on the list of U.S. cities where people want to move – Redfin, 2022.
  • The Tampa Bay area is No. 3 on LinkedIn’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas for entrepreneurs – LinkedIn, 2022.
  • Tampa was the #5 City in the U.S. for net inflow of residents in 2021 – Redfin, 2022.

Tampa is the county seat and largest city in Hillsborough County and is the third-most populous city in Florida. Approximately one-third of the county’s population resides in Tampa. The city is the economic hub of west-central Florida. Its economy is founded on diverse industries, including healthcare, educational services, technology, retail, finance, insurance, construction, maritime industry, professional sports, tourism, and real estate. The Tampa unemployment rate was low at 2.3% in May 2022.

Several large corporations, including banks and telecommunications companies, maintain regional offices in Tampa. The largest credit union in Florida, Suncoast Credit Union, is headquartered in Tampa. Other companies with headquarters here include Bloomin’ Brands, WellCare, Jabil, TECO Energy, Raymond James Financial, Greenway Health, Sykes Enterprises, and The Mosaic Company.

Below is a list of some of the largest employers in Tampa:

  • Baycare Health System (Healthcare) – 28,000 employees
  • Publix Supermarkets (Retail) – 26,000 employees
  • Hillsborough County School District (Educational Services) – 25,000 employees
  • HCA West Florida (Healthcare) – 18,000 employees
  • Frontier Communications (Telecommunications) – 16,000 employees
  • USF (Educational Services) – 14,000 employees
  • Moffitt Cancer Center (Healthcare) – 7,500 employees
  • Wal-Mart (Retail) – 6,000 employees
  • Tampa General Hospital (Healthcare) – 5,000 employees
  • TECO Energy Inc. (Technology) – 5,000 employees
  • J.P. Morgan Chase (Finance) – 5,000 employees
  • Citi (Finance) – 4,000 employees

The cost of living in Tampa remains very reasonable compared to other major cities, as shown in the table below. In Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, the property tax rate is currently 1.09%. The Florida state sales tax rate is 7.5%, and there is no state income tax.

Tampa Los Angeles Miami Boston Atlanta
Median price house /
rent (
Redfin)
$390,000 /
$2,188
$1,000,050 /
$3,400
$530,000 /
$3,157
$780,000 /
$3,970
$456,000 /
$2,143
Cost of living index 99 165 123 162 109

Transportation

Tampa International Airport (TPA), or TIA as it is known locally, is six miles west of downtown Tampa and serves the entire Tampa Bay area.  The airport supports flights for over twenty major airlines, four regional airlines, and three air cargo carriers.  TIA presently serves 93 non-stop destinations throughout North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe.  For the calendar year 2021, it was ranked No. 1 according to the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards among North American airports with 15-25 million passengers.  Tampa International was also named to the Best Hygiene Measures by Region list, a relatively new category in response to the pandemic.

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) provides public transportation for Hillsborough County, covering the municipalities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Brandon, and Ruskin with a fleet of almost 200 buses.  HART has a partnership with USF, so students can ride free local, limited express, and flex routes if they show their valid USF ID.  All the HART buses are equipped with free Wi-Fi, making it easy to work remotely on your commute to and from work or school.  Each route has a bus that runs every 30 minutes during non-peak hours and every 15 minutes during peak hours.

Another popular way to get around Tampa is the TECO line streetcar.  This is a 2.7-mile-long transport connecting downtown Tampa to the Channelside District and Ybor City Historic District.  The streetcars run every 15 minutes on Mondays through Thursdays and every 20 minutes on Fridays through Sundays.

The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (or TBARTA) provides alternative transportation services to help ease congestion along roadways in the Tampa Bay area, including carpooling/vanpooling services, a bike buddy service, and the Emergency Ride Home program.

Interests

Listed below are various special interests in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.  For more listings, see Visit Tampa Bay.

Arts and culture: Straz Center for the Performing ArtsTampa Bay History CenterAmalie ArenaFlorida Air MuseumThe Dali Museum, and MOSI – Museum of Science & Industry.

Outdoors and nature: Bok Tower GardensThe Florida AquariumAdventure IslandBusch Gardens Tampa BayZooTampa at Lowry Park, Hillsborough River State Park, Fort De Soto Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, Clearwater Beach, Siesta Key Beach, Treasure Island Beach, St. Pete Beach, etc.  The Tampa metro area has also ranked nationally in the top ten summer travel destinations.  The city of Tampa operates over 165 parks and beaches.

Professional sports: Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Florida attractions and vacation destinations: Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Florida Keys, Disney World.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Steve Fetrow
steve.fetrow@juno.com
727-482-1831

Solomon Weldegirma
sweldegi@usf.edu
813-470-0771

Angel Hernandez
jrangelo86@gmail.com
813-494-5871