A Tampa Bay Tech investor turns his talents to protecting Florida’s wildlife


As millions of people move to Florida, the pristine parts of the state that wildlife calls home have come under even greater pressure. Some fear people will ruin what brought so many to the Sunshine State in the first place, but a Bay Area man who has created millions in technology believes he can use that same magic to save the environment.

Arnie Bellini started ConnectWiz, a company that many call Tampa’s Cinderella tech startup story. When Bellini sold the company to a Silicon Valley buyer in 2019, many of the employees became millionaires.

Bellini told FOX 13 that by the time the Microsoft-inspired company went public, 50 of its employees had become millionaires.

Ex: Documentary highlights the importance of Florida’s wildlife corridors

“One of my personal goals was to win that, and we did with over 70 millionaires,” he said.

Now Bellini says he wants to help save parts of Florida that are disappearing.

“Let’s go ahead. Let’s be proactive. Let’s not wait,” he told us recently from his home north of Tampa.

More: A Florida wildlife corridor documentary filmmaker’s dream of connecting the state’s green space becomes a reality.

Bellini is spending hours and millions of dollars every day persuading leaders and officials to set aside millions of acres of green space for the good of the environment and the economy.

“Let’s not be California. They waited too late…they had great economic success, but they missed something. They didn’t plan for it, and now they’re paying for it,” Bellini explained.

Corporations have the opportunity to earn carbon credits by expanding the region’s wildlife corridors, he said.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor was approved by the Legislature last year and aims to protect 18 million acres of public and private lands. However, relatively few people know about the corridor or its importance to the area.

Bellini is putting $5 million of his own money into a marketing campaign called “Live Wildly” to educate urban Floridians about why green space is important.

“We in the state of Florida have an amazing opportunity to balance our economy and ecosystem and preserve this state forever,” Bellini said.

Proponents of Florida’s wildlife corridor hope his Midas touch can extend from technology to Florida’s wildest parts.

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