After an extensive search, the recently created St. Pete Innovation District now has its first executive director. Alison Barlow on Thursday was named to the position in which she will help recruit and facilitate a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and Poynter Institute to SRI International and the USF College of Marine Science, among many other organizations.
Barlow, 46, who most recently served as manager of the Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College, starts her new job June 16.
Her appointment is the culmination of planning by city officials and community partners who want to leverage an area of the city concentrated with some of its highest-quality jobs and most innovative assets.
"Alison Barlow is the right leader to help us take this district to the next step of conscious collaboration and cooperation," said Sophia Wisniewska, president of the Innovation District board and regional chancellor of USF St. Petersburg. "She is going to help us weave together the unique world-class assets we have in the district — science, business, health care, education and social innovation — not only to facilitate innovation but also to expose our strengths to the world."
The innovation district's goal is to spur new opportunities for current and future businesses and strengthen the city's brand as a creative economy.