Tampa, Florida — America's other city by the bay, but decidedly less expensive — has come a long way from its origins as a cigar manufacturing hub.
Sprawling, fast-growing and diverse, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area is now home to nearly 3 million people. Meanwhile, business is as booming as its population growth: Financial services, tourism and trade have gradually supplanted cigars.
Recent data show that more than 200 people a day move in, which is about a fifth of Florida's entire net in-migration. Combined with Orlando, Tampa's explosive growth has pushed Florida's total population to nearly 20 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures — blowing past New York as the third-largest state.
The cigar rolling factories in Tampa's historic Ybor City are almost all gone. In their place, a diverse economy has sprung up — one that even includes the spring training location of the New York Yankees, the Major League Baseball rival of the local Tampa Bay Rays. Former Yankees' captain Derek Jeter owns a 30,000-square-foot place on the water, dubbed "St. Jetersburg," which is the size of a Best Buy store. His home is valued at more than $12 million
Billionaire investor Jeff Vinik moved to Tampa six years ago, lured by the weather, water and what he described as a "what you see is what you get" type of economy.
"This area is an undiscovered gem," said Vinik, a former manager of Fidelity's Magellan fund. "Tampa is like a value stock. It really has not been found out yet. Business is taking off and I think we are in the middle of a bull market here."