In pitch to lure Cousteau Divers to St. Petersburg, a 'merci' to some help from Tampa
Wake up and good morning. Sometimes it's the little things, the offer to help across the waters of Tampa Bay, that can stand out and make a difference. This brief tale comes courtesy of Peter Betzer (left, courtesy USF), who spoke passionately just before Christmas at a luncheon by the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, an economic booster group that Betzer heads as CEO.
Betzer, a former USF St. Petersburg dean of the College of Marine Science, talked about the concerted efforts by his group and others to encourage Pierre-Yves Cousteau (right, courtesy of The Cousteau Society), the youngest son of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, to make St. Petersburg the U.S. headquarters for his international organization, Cousteau Divers. Betzer's pretty pumped about the good chances this will happen, but you never know until the deal is signed...
Back to Betzer. At the luncheon podium, he rattled off a long list of people and organizations that met with Cousteau while he visited here, lobbying him to put his divers' HQ in St. Petersburg. But Betzer went out of his way to credit one person who offered her help even though she was based in Tampa and is not normally part of the St. Petersburg business recruiting scene.
Maryann Ferenc. Folks in Tampa know Ferenc (photo, left, with glasses) as a relentless advocate of the tourism industry and economic development, in addition to her owning Mise en Place, the French restaurant across from the University of Tampa. (Photo: Atoyia Deans, St. Petersburg Times.)
But Betzer told his St. Petersburg luncheon audience that Ferenc called him and said, in effect, whatever it takes to help bring Cousteau Divers to St. Pete, she is willing to dive in (so to speak) and help.
The hands across the bay was unusual and notable. Whether it's one woman with French attachments seeking to bring Cousteau here or simply a realization that the Cousteau name is a whopper brand in oceanography circles -- well, who cares? It's a great gesture we'd like to see more of -- going in both directions.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times, soon to become the Tampa Bay Times