Non-Clearwater businesses help earn city-specific national title
City Hall this week touted Clearwater's ranking from industry magazine Inc. Media as the No. 1 city in the nation for business growth relative to population size.
There was one problem.
Two of the four companies that earned Clearwater the title with their growth power aren't even in the city.
Although they have Clearwater mailing addresses, E-Telequote Insurance resides in unincorporated Pinellas County and Digital Media Solutions is actually in Dunedin.
E-Telequote had an admirable growth rate of 2,908 percent over the past three years, bringing in $15.5 million in 2015...just not in Clearwater.
And Digital Media Solutions had an 881 percent growth rate and $54.1 million in revenue in 2015...but in Dunedin.
The authentically Clearwater companies that helped earn the ranking, Stratus Video and KnowBe4, are both nestled in a downtown high rise.
Founded in 2010, Stratus Video grew 4,190 percent over the past three years with $11.5 million in revenue in 2015, according to the 35th annual Inc. 500 list, which ranks private, for profit businesses based on revenue hikes. The top spot Clearwater claimed is a sidebar list that rates the top cities based on growth relative to population size..
KnowBe4 brought in $6.8 million last year, a 2,528 percentage jump.
Inc. Media Group Vice President Patrick Hainault said the private businesses are ranked based on mailing addresses because when it comes to unincorporated areas, “we don't audit that.”
Fair enough for a national magazine.
Economic Development and Housing director Denise Sanderson said city officials realized E-Telequote and Digital Media Solutions were not part of Clearwater but decided to follow Inc. Media's lead on recognizing area businesses.
"Because of the way Inc. magazine did their analysis, we thought it was important we recognize all those businesses who had Clearwater mailing addresses and thought it would be terribly confusing for the reader between incorporated and unincorporated," she said. "It's really just celebrating that and how they identify Clearwater businesses."