After nearly two decades under previous leadership, the future of business in Florida’s most densely populated county rests in new hands.
Cynthia Johnson has been named the new director of Pinellas County Economic Development. She assumed the role on Sept. 7, replacing longtime director Mike Meidel, who had held the position since 2004. Meidel retired earlier this year.
“Cynthia’s extensive experience, passion for public service and success at strengthening relationships in our community are proven assets to our Economic Development department,” said Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton in a county announcement on Tuesday. “I look forward to her leadership as we continue to expand our economic development presence across the Tampa Bay region and beyond.”
Since its establishment in 1997, Pinellas County Economic Development has held a mission of promoting job creation and fostering a pro-business environment. The department works with 13 local chambers of commerce to encourage expansion of existing businesses and bring new companies to the region.
Johnson joined the department in 2000 following time as an assistant principal for Pinellas County Schools. Most recently, Johnson served as head of the Office of Small Business & Supplier Diversity, where she worked to increase local vendor participation in the Small Business Enterprise Program, which enables small businesses to sell goods and services to Pinellas County Government.
“I am both humbled and honored to lead the dynamic and talented team of professionals at Pinellas County Economic Development,” Johnson said in Tuesday’s announcement. “Together, we will advance our global competitiveness by continuing to grow a strong and diverse economy, talented workforce and resilient communities.”
A St. Petersburg native, Johnson holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, and a Diversity & Inclusion Certification from Cornell University. She was selected to lead the department through a national search process with more than 50 applicants, and her appointment marks both the first African American and first woman to serve as director of the county program.