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Personnel note: Rick Kriseman appoints two staffers to leadership positions

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman has named two city employees to key roles within city operations.

Beginning July 1 Economic Development Manager Sophia Sorolis will serve as the go-to person for implementation of the city’s Grow Smarter Strategy. The program is an economic development initiative targeting five business areas including marine and life sciences, specialized manufacturing, financial services, data analytics and creative arts and design.

Sorolis will also partner with the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce to implement initiatives geared toward district and corridor development, awareness building, entrepreneurial growth, coordinated education and training, culture and community.

“There is no one better positioned to lead this critical charge for the city.  Working closely with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Sophia will bring her expertise to the table to implement this business development strategy and to create more jobs and opportunity for all,” Kriseman said.

Sorolis has worked as the city’s economic development manager for eight years and has contributed to major business retention and attraction.

Kriseman also appointed Jessica Eilerman to manage a program collaborated on by both the city and the Chamber called the Greenhouse. Eilerman serves as the city’s small business liasison and will move forward in both capacities.

The Greenhouse provides training, networking, business counseling and other forms of assistance for local small business startups.

“Jessica has been vital to our success and I am excited about the future of the Greenhouse with her at the helm,” Kriseman said.

Eilerman formerly worked as the market manager for the 11-county Gulf Coast Region of the Florida Department of Financial Services under Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

There she implemented the state market team’s economic development and small business outreach plan.

She also worked for the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce for six years.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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