Judy Genshaft

University of South Florida

“The Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council is an integral part of our region’s international trade strategy"

President Ronald L. Vaughn

The University of Tampa

"The Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council has a lead role in helping to rebuild these relationships for our community.”

Bob Rohrlack

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce commends the Mayor and County on their vision to strengthen Protocol with an international trade component.
Ron Barton
Director of Hillsborough County Economic Development


Ron Barton serves as the Economic Development Director for Hillsborough County. The Department is responsible for leading efforts to improve employment opportunities for County residents by encouraging the creation and retention of quality jobs throughout the entire range of economic activities in the County. Specific areas of focus are: corporate development and recruitment, tourism promotion, agriculture development, small and minority business development and encouragement programs, business retention efforts, and coordination and liaison with the Regional Workforce Development Board.

Prior to joining Hillsborough County, Mr. Barton served in similar economic development agencies for the City of Jacksonville and for St Petersburg. As the Executive Director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission his primary responsibilities included business recruitment, negotiation of public incentives, administering programs for the Enterprise and Empowerment Zones, serving as the Community Redevelopment Agency and implementing four redevelopment areas including the Downtown Urban Core, serving as Master Developer of both the 4,500 acre Cecil Commerce Center (former Cecil Naval Air Station) and the Downtown DRI and in general, the structuring of public/private development projects to achieve public policy objectives.

Serving as the Director of Economic Development and Property Management for the City of St. Petersburg, Mr. Barton administered the City’s Business Recruitment and Retention Program and was responsible for overseeing Real Estate Asset Management including all acquisition; disposition and leasing of publicly owned real estate. Mr. Barton lead the Department through a myriad of largescale projects including; the redevelopment of an industrial park; land assemblage and structuring an agreement that brought needed retail services to a distressed area of the City; the Waterfront Redevelopment Project, which drew attention to the continued evaluation of City-owned real estate assets to ensure they were put to their highest valued use; and the structuring of the Maas Brothers Block Redevelopment Project, which resulted in a major mixed-use development that included a new downtown campus for St. Petersburg College and a 200,000 square foot headquarters’ office for Progress Energy.

Mr. Barton’s previous experience includes being a Partner with KPMG, LLP and spending over 18 years as a Real Estate and Development Consultant working for organizations such as the New York State Urban Development Corporation, the City of San Antonio and the Office of Policy and Management for the State of Georgia. Mr. Barton worked for Laventhol and Horwath providing development and financial consulting to the public and private sector; the East Central Regional Planning Council as a Division Chief and Economic Planner; and with the City of Jacksonville’s Planning Department as an Urban Planner.

Mr. Barton holds a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of North Florida, and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Real Estate from Florida State University. Mr. Barton is active in NAIOP and the Urban Land Institute and his projects have received numerous awards including the Roy F. Kenzie Outstanding New Building Project and the top Redevelopment Project for the State of Florida.