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Dallas' Embark looks to establish East Coast beachhead in Tampa

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the in-migration of new residents to the Tampa Bay region, and that has made it attractive for companies to follow in their footsteps.

The latest to do so is Embark, a financial advisory firm based in Dallas. The firm first landed in Tampa last year and is looking to turn its local office into a foothold for possible expansion to other cities in the Southeast United States and on the East Coast.

"We have seven offices around the country, and most of them are in the western U.S.," said Zac Smith, the SVP of Embark's Tampa office. "This is really an expansion, the first East Coast office out of which we can expand and grow."

Embark provides consulting and financial advisory services in several areas, including financial reporting and mergers and acquisitions, among others. Smith describes the company as "a Big Four lite" — comparing it to the four major accounting firms — and Embark has worked with companies like GameStop and Neiman Marcus. In addition to its Dallas office, the company has locations in Houston, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Smith said Embark had about 200 employees across its footprint and that he expected to have 25 people on his team at the company's office in Hyde Park by the end of the year.

"We've already made some offers, and I actually have two interviews today," he said on Friday.

In a post announcing the Tampa expansion, Embark wrote about why the firm wanted to expand its presence in the region. The company said it was drawn to Tampa Bay by the influx of new residents, pointing out that Tampa ranked fourth out of all U.S. cities in net inflow of residents in 2020. Embark also pointed to the region's growing health care, technology and financial service sectors; the availability of talent in Tampa Bay thanks to the area's universities; and the opportunity for a mid-market player in the financial advisory field.

"As we continue our meticulous expansion into exciting new regions, we’re looking for markets that provide that unique combination of potential and character, the ones that quickly come to personify everything we are as a firm," the post read. "And as you might expect, Tampa fits that bill to a tee."

Smith added that the city's location in Florida was also a bonus, as it was equidistant from Jacksonville and Miami...

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