St. Pete EDC Celebrates Milestone Third Year

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida– (Feb. 7, 2020) – Business and community leaders joined the Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation for the EDC's third Annual Meeting on February 6 at the Vinoy Golf Club.

The evening event, sponsored by PNC Bank, featured highlights from the EDC's inaugural three years, a 2020 outlook, and a transition of executive leadership, including the recognition of Jill Wilkinson, Market President of SunTrust Bank now Truist, as 2020 Chair.

One of the organization’s biggest successes in 2019 was attracting Dynasty Financial Partners  to the City. Several of Dynasty's team members attended the Annual Meeting, along with other companies the EDC has worked with to facilitate relocation and expansions.

"We looked at a number of other communities including Charlotte and West Palm, but St. Petersburg stood out because of its infrastructure, talent, quality of life and culture," said Shirl Penney, President and CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners.

Internally, the EDC has grown its investor base to nearly 70 organizations, nine of which were added in 2019.

Notably, Penney announced that Dynasty will become an investor of the EDC during his remarks at the event. Mayor Rick Kriseman also committed to increasing the City's investment as a result of the EDC's proven track record to generate significant job creation numbers with limited resources.

In its first three years, the EDC has worked with 22 companies that plan to create nearly 1,000 jobs within St. Petersburg's Grow Smarter target industry sectors.

More than 60 percent of those 1,000 jobs are in the Data Analytics sector, something the EDC has prioritized in 2019 by convening local Data Analytics industry leaders to identify common trends.

Tara Bonnell, SVP of Data Solutions for FIS says the EDC's Leaders in Data Cohort provides incredible value to support FIS's growth

The St. Pete EDC formed as a public-private partnership in 2016 and has since opened 91 job creation projects, visited 347 local businesses, and led business development missions to 15 cities, including two international locales.

Danielle Ruiz of Duke Energy joins the EDC as Vice Chair. Other members of the EDC’s executive leadership include St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Chamber President & CEO, Chris Steinocher, Secretary and Treasurer Brian Auld, Immediate Past Chair, Chad Loar, and EDC President, J.P. DuBuque. Bob Warchola of Shumaker Loop and Kendrick will serve as the EDC's General Counsel for the third year.

In 2020, the EDC will execute a strategic out-of-market effort that will target financial services and data analytics companies in the Tri-State area. A talent attraction campaign will also be a major priority for the EDC.

"Talent availability and skills are the biggest areas of concern for companies already in the area as well as those considering relocation," newly elected Chair Jill Wilkinson said. “Our hope is this will position St. Petersburg as a destination for innovators, job seekers and highly-regarded tech talent around the country.”

A new website focuses on promoting major corporations in the area, job openings, industry meetings, community amenities, information about relocation and what it’s like to live in St. Petersburg. A video campaign is also in progress.

The first of a video series was revealed at the meeting.

To keep attracting companies from out of town, St. Petersburg and Tampa, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties need to work together, said Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, alluding to the moves last year by organizations in Tampa to change their names to the “Tampa Bay Economic Development Council” and the “Tampa Bay Chamber.”

“We have shined above them and outgrown our older brother. We’re taller and better-looking and attracting all the wonderful things,” Steinocher said. “But with that comes responsibility to act like the leaders we know we are, to rise above it all. When we hear that conversation that goes negative, we say that’s not our conversation to have. We’re the most positive community in the country. We talk positive stuff. If it’s negative we turn the other cheek, and we move forward for the next success for our community.”

The Greater St. Petersburg Area EDC's third Annual Meeting was made possible by Presenting Sponsor PNC Bank and by the support of UPC Insurance, St. Pete Catalyst, and PPK.

Stuart Sternberg of the Tampa Bay Rays, Tash Elwyn of Raymond James Financial, and Dr. Tonjua Williams of St. Petersburg College were among a reported 150 attendees at the event.

To see photos from the event, visit our Facebook page.