Female Founders Choose St. Petersburg, Florida

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It’s no surprise that women-owned businesses are thriving in St. Petersburg, Florida. Drawn by St. Pete’s business-friendly environment, innovation, and entrepreneurial support, women founders are choosing the collaborative and inclusive community of St. Pete.

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Sheffie Robinson, Photo: Shamrck

Business-Friendly at the Top of the List

St. Pete has the distinction of being a funky beach town that is exceptionally business-friendly. Sheffie Robinson, founder & CEO of AI-enabled career exploration platform Shamrck said that “[finding a site with] with business-friendly government was at the top of our list,” as the company considered its relocation from Mississippi. St. Pete also offers a wide range of tax benefits for businesses.


Ignited by Innovation

St. Pete was in the global spotlight when ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood announced her company’s relocation to the Sunshine City.  She cited the region’s “talent, innovative spirit, and quality of life,” and characterized St. Petersburg as “a city investing in technology, science, and innovation.” After relocating from New York, Wood noted at the Milken Institute’s 2021 Global Conference that although she swore she’d “never live in Florida,” she now describes herself as “St. Pete’s official ambassador.”


Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Led Largely by Women

When determining whether financial data tech company Intrinio would remain in St. Pete after its initial launch, support for entrepreneurs locally was a key factor in their decision to stay according to the company’s CEO and founder Rachel Carpenter.  (In addition, she says, “the company realized there was a ‘Rise of the Rest’ movement where people started to realize that there are valuable companies in undervalued areas… and Tampa Bay 100% fit that bill. We decided we wanted to stay and grow here, and it's been fantastic!”)

New research from real estate data company Clever Real Estate confirms that Tampa Bay is one of the best regions in the U.S. for startups and entrepreneurs. Beyond that, the Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater area was named the #6 top place for women entrepreneurs by Smart Asset, and Fundera ranked St. Petersburg the #4 best city for women entrepreneurs.


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Tonya Elmore, TBIC; Linda Olson, Tampa Bay Wave; Lakshmi Shenoy, Embarc Collective, Jill St. Thomas, Tampa Bay Tech;  Photos: TBIC/TBW/EC/TBT

St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay region have a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, much of it led by women. The Tampa Bay tech community is served by many organiztions, including the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, Tampa Bay Wave, Embarc Collective, and Tampa Bay Tech.  The Tampa Bay Innovation Center, led by President & CEO Tonya Elmore, was one of the opportunities that drew ARK Invest to St. Petersburg. ARK CEO Wood said, “"Our relocation and the ARK Innovation Center will allow us to be more innovative and to impact the broader community while shining a spotlight on the technological advances and creativity permeating the Tampa Bay region." Tampa Bay Wave, led by President & CEO Linda Olson is partnering with the University of South Florida to bring FinTech|X Accelerator to St. Pete, and Embarc Collective, led by CEO Lakshmi Shenoy, helps Tampa Bay's startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies. Tampa Bay Tech, led by Jill St. Thomas, is creating a radically connected, flourishing tech hub where opportunity is abundant for all.

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Jessica Eilerman, Kim Vogel, Photos: The Greenhouse

Small Business Support

The Greenhouse is a private-public partnership between the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce and the City of St. Petersburg that provides business owners and entrepreneurs with the education, resources, and assistance necessary to thrive in the local economy. More than half of the entrepreneurs served in 2020 were women-owned. The Greenhouse team is led by the City of St. Pete’s Small Business Liaison Jessica Eilerman and the St. Pete Chamber’s VP of Entrepreneurial Advancement Kim Vogel.

For more on why successful female entrepreneurs are choosing St. Petersburg as a place to locate and grow their businesses, contact Business Manager Meghan O’Keefe.



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