Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

New Hillsborough economic development director had similar job in St. Petersburg

TAMPA — Hillsborough County on Tuesday announced the hiring of a new economic development director who once held a similar job with the city of St. Petersburg.

Ron Barton most recently was executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission. He held that job from 2005 until he was sacked in August as part of a larger housecleaning by that city's mayor, Alvin Brown.

In a memo to department directors and economic development employees, Hillsborough County chief financial officer Bonnie Wise said Barton was responsible in Jacksonville for efforts that led to $514 million in capital investment from the private sector and the creation of 6,400 jobs.

The Florida Times-Union had reported that his departure was anticipated after the mayor there ordered a review of economic development efforts. Barton was hired by former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton.

Before Jacksonville, Barton worked for four years as St. Petersburg's director of economic development and property management under former Mayor Rick Baker. He was credited with several development projects, particularly in the city's struggling Midtown area.

He was the city's lead negotiator in bringing Progress Energy's Pinellas County headquarters to downtown. And he helped lure a Sweetbay Supermarket to the area south of Central Avenue, the first chain grocery store in the heart of Midtown.

He also helped structure some of the city's largest real estate projects, including renovations at the Manhattan Casino and redevelopment of the former Maas Brothers property.

When he left, he cited a desire to spend more time with family and plans to start a consulting business, but was hired in Jacksonville later that year.

Barton, 55, was a partner with what was then KPMG Peat Marwick before joining the city. He starts Monday for Hillsborough County government. His salary was not immediately available.

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