PINELLAS PARK — The business assistance program is facing the chopping block, but the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce has gone ahead and hired a new person to run it anyway.
The new business assistance program specialist, or BAPS, is Jeanne W. Creech, who will move from the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, where she held the same position.
The BAPS program is designed to help floundering businesses and to attract new businesses. It is funded by a three-way partnership among a city, its chamber and the county. The Pinellas Park chamber has had the program since 2002, but with the recent departure of Julie Roberts, city officials decided they will likely pull their $17,448 of the funding when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Housh Ghovaee, Pinellas Park chamber chief, has said he plans to try to persuade the city to rethink its stance or to find funding elsewhere.
Creech is a native of Gary, Ind., who has a bachelor's degree from Valparaiso College in Indiana and a master's degree from the University of Michigan. She earned a doctorate in organizational leadership from Georgia State University.
She moved to Pinellas in 2004 and went to work for the Clearwater chamber. While there, she increased the membership of the Women's Business Forum from five to 250.
In Pinellas Park, she plans to concentrate on helping business owners survive this economic downturn and making the city a tourist destination for all things involving horses.