Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan Greenbaum, Ph.D.


Urban revitalization, Urban planning strategies, Latino immigrants, Small business owners, Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission


This thesis is a critical evaluation of the methods of community engagement used by the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission during the creation and implementation of the West Tampa Economic Development Plan. Data for this research was conducted in West Tampa, a neighborhood in Tampa, Florida. In the spring of 2005, the Planning Commission began working with the residents, business and property owners in West Tampa to develop the neighborhood's economic development plan. Using the community engagement methods of surveys, mailed and posted community announcements, community meetings, focus groups and interviews, the Planning Commission created an economic development plan which reflected the needs and concerns of the residents, business and property owners and worked to limit their displacement from the redevelopment of the neighborhood.

Although these methods were designed to create avenues of participation for all segments of West Tampa's population, the neighborhood's new immigrant, Spanish speaking residents and business owners were not involved in the Planning Commission's community engagement efforts. By focusing specifically in West Tampa's Latino business district, known as "Boliche Boulevard," a long-time nickname given to the area by Tampa's Cuban immigrants, data from this research identifies the reasons for this population's absence in the creation and implementation of West Tampa's economic development plan. The use of the traditional anthropological methods of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and archival research revealed the history of Boliche Blvd.'s relationship with West Tampa, the neighborhood's civic institutions and Tampa city government and how these relationships impacted the business owners' willingness and ability to participate in West Tampa's economic development plan.

The Planning Commission's limited understanding of the social relationships which exist between Boliche Blvd., West Tampa and the larger City of Tampa impaired their ability to successfully reach this population with their existing community engagement methods. This research stresses the need for city-county planning agencies to critically evaluate their community engagement efforts when conducting economic development projects in diverse, multi-lingual urban neighborhoods. Community engagement must be tailored to target different language and culture groups in order to achieve successful participation from the entire neighborhood population.