As an attorney with Carlton Fields, headquartered in the Westshore District, Ken Tinkler has been deeply involved with the Westshore Alliance for more than a decade. After participating in the Leadership Westshore Program in 2008, a previous initiative of the Westshore Alliance, he became a Board Member in 2010.
“I got more and more involved as time went on, and then I was asked to be part of the Executive Committee. That’s what happens when you show up to meetings and ask questions,” Tinkler says with a laugh as he recounts his years of involvement.
Tinkler’s interest in the Westshore District comes naturally, since it’s “the national headquarters for my firm and where I spend an enormous amount of time.” In the Westshore Alliance, he sees a group of like-minded individuals with the same connections and commitment to the area.
“I’ve always been impressed by the commitment of the overall membership to moving the area forward, taking a long-term view and trying to chip away at making changes, improvements to raise the overall quality of life.”
Now, Tinkler will be leading the ongoing push for those changes and improvements as the new President of the Westshore Alliance Board of Directors, announced at the 39th Annual Meeting and Reception held at Raymond James Stadium on February 15th.
What are Tinkler’s top goals as President?
“I see my role as transitioning us to the next stage for the Alliance. How do we grow as an organization from where we are?” he explains. “We’ve had a lot of big wins over the last year, such as funding for transportation improvements we’ve been seeking. The upcoming Westshore Interchange project, a project the Alliance has been pushing for many years, will be transformational in reconnecting the street grid in Westshore, so now is the time to prepare.. How do we grow and adapt to help implement all these changes in a way that benefits the businesses and residents that call Westshore home?”
What are Tinkler’s plans for achieving this?
“The Alliance’s focus on plan development over the years has proved to be very wise and gives us a strong foundation.” With a renewed focus on strategic thinking and visioning, as well as a new executive director, Michael Maurino, coming on board with the retirement of Ann Kulig, “this is the time to make sure we take a long term view on what Westshore will evolve into,” as well as “making sure all of our members are up to speed and a part of the conversation about the changes that are already planned for Westshore,” says Tinkler.
These changes include continual transportation improvements—a top priority of the Westshore Alliance and critical driver of the Westshore District’s growth and evolution.
“We’ve had a lot of new business openings that have happened in the past year, and yet we also know we’re about to see improvements on Westshore Boulevard that will foster more redevelopment. We have the new bridge from Pinellas County under construction now and local governments looking at transit and interconnection options,” Tinkler says, emphasizing, “All of that presents new opportunities.”
Undoubtedly, the biggest change and challenge over the last two years has been the global pandemic. Yet, the Westshore District has continued to grow and thrive.
“What’s been exciting to me has been watching how well Westshore has done, despite the global pandemic,” Tinkler explains. “We’ve seen so many increases in apartments, the opening of Midtown Tampa, hotels are busy, new restaurants have opened, the vibrancy of the area that has continued, even though it's been such a tough time for so many.”
Just like the Westshore District, the Westshore Alliance has more than weathered the pandemic storm.
“We’ve had tremendous attendance over Zoom for our various committees over the last year. We adapted well during the pandemic and our healthy membership numbers reflect that,” Tinkler says, but now he’s hoping for an even greater variety of involvement as everyone inches closer (hopefully) to post-pandemic normalcy.
“I want people to be excited about getting involved in person,” he says, while also emphasizing the Alliance will “continue to have every possible way of interacting with folks”—Zoom meetings and networking included.
“We offer a tremendous value to new members, as we work together to improve the community. Our current members are involved and engaged and this is a great time to get more invested in the evolution of Westshore.”
All the discussions, strategy, and initiatives Ken Tinkler hopes to implement as President are driven by one overarching goal for Westshore: “We call it work, live, play and stay, it comes down to our focus on making the Westshore District the best place in Tampa Bay to develop a business, enjoy yourself, or to call home.”