Make us your home page

St. Petersburg unveils plan for jobs recruiting arm similar to Tampa's

A sea change is under way in how St. Petersburg intends to recruit companies to move jobs here.

Once passive, the city was content to lend a hand only if a business came knocking. But emboldened by its downtown renaissance, St. Pete now plans to aggressively pursue companies and jobs in specific industries like marine science and health care.

To accomplish that, the city is creating its own economic development corporation, or EDC, much like the successful Tampa Hillsborough EDC that has become the powerful corporate jobs recruiter on the eastern side of Tampa Bay.

St. Pete's EDC, whose formal name has not yet been set, would be a public-private partnership — meaning it would be backed by leadership and funding by both the city and its private business sector. It would operate as a separate unit of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

Details of the EDC were shared with me Tuesday by St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin and Alan DeLisle, city development administrator, who most recently helped lead city development in Louisville, Ky., and Durham, N.C. St. Pete Chamber CEO Chris Steinocher called the EDC "an opportunity for St. Petersburg to seize the momentum" of being on the upswing.

The EDC still has plenty of details to be worked out, and its initial funding budget will be modest. But there is clear enthusiasm for the idea. Both city and chamber execs invoke the name of Rick Homans, CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC, as the type of go-getter St. Petersburg wants running its own EDC.

Tomalin, DeLisle and Steinocher all say St. Pete wants a "dealmaker" who can help recruit the types of higher-skills jobs any metro area would covet.

Would a St. Pete EDC spur more toe-to-toe competition with Tampa? Homans answered diplomatically. What's good for Tampa is good for St. Petersburg, and vice versa, he suggested.

"Wherever a recruited company lands in the metro market they are hiring people, affecting real estate prices and making a stronger metrowide economy," he said.

Still, there may be some minefields ahead. The state's chief job recruiting organization, Enterprise Florida, operates via a network of EDCs or related groups when handling job leads and structuring incentive deals with companies. Enterprise Florida works with one entity per county to streamline its efforts and minimize potential conflicts. The Tampa Hillsborough EDC is that single entity in Hillsborough County. In Pinellas, it is the county's economic development arm.

How might a St. Pete EDC fit in a statewide network whose seats are already filled?

DeLisle said that concern is not even on the city's radar. He suggests the new EDC could simply become a better conduit for St. Pete to work with the county on potential recruiting projects.

This much we know: The era of passive St. Pete economic development is ending.

Contact Robert Trigaux at

St. Petersburg unveils plan for jobs recruiting arm similar to Tampa's 08/25/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]