St. Petersburg is about to launch its first Economic Development Corp. dedicated to recruiting more and better jobs to the city, and this morning announced veteran corporate recruiter J.P. DuBuqu as the EDC’s first president.
The creation of an EDC comes as St. Petersburg’s downtown enjoys a renaissance in cultural activities, restaurants, hotels and a boom in housing construction. What has lagged are significant business relocations and expansions, as well as a pipeline of quality jobs — key goals of the new EDC.
DuBuque recently served as the interim CEO of the Tampa/Hillsborough EDC, the established and successful job recruiting arm across the bay from St. Petersburg.DuBuque held that position until Craig Richard was hired this summer to serve as CEO, resulting in DuBuque returning to his former role as the organization’s vice president of finance and administration.
Now DuBuque will be given the reins to run his own show.
“St. Petersburg is building an enviable brand as an inclusive, forward-thinking community that can stack up quite favorably against any other market when it comes to opportunity for success and quality of life,” DuBuque said in a statement. “I can’t wait to work with all the partners in this city to show the world what we have become.”
The city is working with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, organizing the EDC as a public/private partnership. The city and chamber will become cornerstone members with equal investments in the EDC. More than 40 private “founding” investors, primarily area businesses, are also committing funds to the EDC for a total about $500,000 to get the EDC off the ground.
In addition to DuBuque as the EDC’s day to day leader, Chamber CEO Chris Steinocher will also serve as CEO of the EDC. The new EDC will share space, benefits and support at the chamber’s downtown location.
Picking DuBuque as the new EDC head was “seamless,” Steinocher said, because he already has the area depth of knowledge, experience and an understanding of what St. Petersburg is looking for in recruiting new jobs and retaining those already here. And then there is DuBuque’s enthusiasm.
“J.P. will help us get out of the box quickly,” Steinocher said. The city is specifically looking to recruit jobs in the fields of data analytics, specialized manufacturing, marine science and medicine as well as the creative arts and design.
Steinocher said the EDC will work closely with the downtown’s emerging Innovation District that includes USF St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children’s and a host of related research organizations nearby. Also, the 85 acres surrounding Tropicana Field now being considered for redevelopment — whether the Tampa Bay Rays opt to stay or move — means this is good timing for the arrival of the EDC and DuBuque.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and city economic development administrator Alan Delisle will represent the city on the EDC’s board. Valpak CEO Michael Vivio, currently vice chair of economic development for the chamber, will also become the initial chairman of the EDC.
Creating an EDC for St. Petersburg was an idea that came from a “Growing Smarter” strategic plan adopted by the city and the business community two years ago. St. Petersburg’s EDC becomes the third in this metro area, following Tampa/Hillsborough’s and one launched in Plant City last fall.
DuBuque formally starts his new EDC job on Nov. 7, 2017.