It’s not austin or denver, but tampa bay is getting cooler electricity nightcore lyrics

The coolness issue bulled its way into a recent roundtable discussion I shared with some local technology company executives who are frustrated in finding people to hire with the right kind of tech skills. Unemployment among tech workers here is roughly 2 percent. Recruiting and keeping tech talent, these tech execs argue, would be a lot easier if this metro area had more buzz, more hipness and more reasons for smart and motivated people to cluster here.

"Tampa does not have the cool factor," says Steve MacDonald, CEO, serial entrepreneur and founder in 2001 of Tampa’s myMatrixx. The pharmacy benefits manager, which employs about 125 and has six open positions, ranked No. 1,918 on Inc. magazine’s list of the nation’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies last year.

Companies themselves can do some cool things. They can produce cool products or use cutting-edge technology (always a draw for techies honing the latest skills). They can offer cool-looking offices. And, lest we ignore the obvious, they can pay well for top skills. But being based somewhere widely perceived as "cool" can be a huge draw in attracting and keeping talented people.

It seems Tampa Bay isn’t cool enough to entice enough hotshot tech, social media and software developers to meet the needs of fast-growing firms like myMatrixx or mobile application developer Haneke Design in Tampa or St. Petersburg’s Catalina Marketing, which analyzes consumer shopping preferences for retailers and brand manufacturers.

A regionwide project kicked off recently to tackle Tampa Bay’s technology skills gap. The goal is to connect industry with the schools, community colleges and universities here to better align student skills with real-world demand. We’ll hear more on that project later this summer.

Trying to be cool is every metro area‘s quest. It’s a hot topic in Michigan trying to rebound from dark economic days, where people caution that building more night clubs and coffee bars won’t work without meaningful jobs. It’s discussed in places like Augusta, Ga., where it’s joked that everyone should wear baseball caps backward.

It’s big in Nashville. This month, city leaders there are trying to figure out the same issue befuddling us here: how to get more tech workers to fill thousands of jobs that can’t be filled and, as a result, dragging down an already slow economy.

Urban economist Richard Florida ignited a fire in area leaders nine years ago when he challenged them to deepen the metro’s culture and broaden its tolerance. Those are two ingredients that his influential book, The Rise of the Creative Class, said would draw more talented people and, in turn, better jobs.

The economist’s push prompted numerous positive efforts in this area. It helped start Creative Tampa Bay. It influenced the rise of Emerge Tampa (the business leadership group for people ages 21 to 35). And it encouraged people like St. Petersburg’s Peter Kageyama, author of the cool-embracing book For the Love of Cities and a co-founder of Awesome Tampa Bay, which helps fund grass roots projects to improve the metro area in some fresh way.

With the Republican National Convention quickly approaching, area business and political leaders are scrambling to package the best of Tampa Bay — in videos and conferences, in advertising and marketing, on new websites (like tampabayshines.com) and in talk shows to be streamed live over the Internet during the RNC. The idea is to show a bigger world briefly focused on this area that we may be cooler than they thought and a good place to do business.

Experts say changing impressions of how hip a place is can be difficult. A Forbes magazine analysis in 2010 cited Miami’s sharp rise in its "cool city" rankings because of the burst of art galleries there and the 2002 introduction of Art Basel, the contemporary art festival that started in Switzerland.

I know the Tampa Bay area is cooler and getting more so. It has gotten tougher to see those gains during the recent economic downturn, amid job losses and housing woes. But they are there, waiting for more recognition when the economy strengthens.