The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce recently sent out a mid-year report to members.
Like most mid-year reports, it highlighted many of the Chamber’s accomplishments so far this year – 241 new members, receipt of a $314,187 Healthy St. Pete grant, and the inaugural Tropic Ocean Airways flight, among others. But it also included a look ahead by Greg Holden, Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Governors.
Among the big plans for the remainder of 2016 – the launch of the Economic Development Corp. It will be the first such public-private partnership for the city. The EDC is designed to encourage outside companies to locate in St. Pete and, ultimately, create jobs and support existing businesses.
“The impact of this on our community is going to be significant,” Holden said. “The launch of the EDC has been a long time coming.”
The official announcement is expected to come around Labor Day, said Chris Steinocher, Chamber President and CEO. That’s when the founders will be named. The founders include those who are providing seed money to get the EDC off the ground.
The goal, Steinocher said, is to raise $500,000. The chamber is about three-quarters of the way there. The city has pledged $100,000 and others have also agreed to chip in.
The money will be used to help advertise the city as a good place for businesses to locate and to woo companies in the five target areas: marine and health sciences, specialty manufacturers, financial services, data analysis, and arts and design.
Those areas were chosen as target industries after a consultant studied the city and its commercial atmosphere. Those are industries that will fit nicely into and capitalize on what’s already in St. Petersburg and are also likely to create more area jobs, said Alan DeLisle, St. Petersburg’s economic development administrator.
St. Petersburg has one of the strongest marine science centers in the country, DeLisle said. And Johns Hopkins has also chosen to locate here and is going to build a research center. Outside companies, he said, will be attracted to that dynamic. The blend of marine sciences and health sciences is “magic,” he said.
Bringing in new companies will help those that are here, Steinocher said. If someone opens a pizza restaurant, for example, then the money generated by that business is local money that recirculates among locals. While that’s a good thing, it’s even better to bring in monies from outside and to create more jobs to support the pizza restaurant and other businesses that are already here.
That way, Steinocher said, you see everybody benefit.
“This is about taking care of our current environment,” Steinocher said.