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St. Pete’s state of the economy reception message: We’re awesome

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Officials in St. Pete hosted a reception Tuesday to go over the state of the city’s economy. Basically, it was a commercial for the city, complete with a free drink for anyone in attendance.

And the event wasn’t very well-scheduled, considering organizers nestled the reception in the middle of Election Day, ensuring most reporters were too busy to notice.

In any case, the take-away was a good one.

St. Pete, like, So. Totally. Rocks.

First of all, the city is growing. St. Pete’s population has tripled since 2010. And for the first time, the city’s growth rate has outpaced the county.

According to the city, that’s a good thing because it spreads the tax burden.

The city also seems to have shed its “God’s waiting room” image. St. Pete’s population is 6.3 years younger than it was in 1970. Don’t get too excited though ‘burgers – we’re still 6.5 years older than the rest of the country.

Not as many poor people live here as other parts of Florida. St. Pete has the lowest poverty rate. But watch out, even though we’re kicking other city’s butts, St. Pete’s poverty rate is on the rise.

The city is taking steps to curb that trend and keep on top of poverty through programs like the Southside Community Redevelopment Area and the 2020 plan.

There’s also the Grow Smarter Strategy and the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corp. established to help residents in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, particularly Midtown, start or expand a business.

Know what else makes the ‘burg super-fly? Craft beer.

St. Pete is getting better and better at brewing delicious beer and the excitement keeps on moving west. The city’s rocking Cycle Brewery in downtown, Green Bench in the Edge District and the Creative Loafing winner of best local brew, Three Daughters on the Deuces.

And those are just a few.

The vacancy rate for retail space in Grand Central and in the Edge District is historically low.

But it’s not just downtown and surrounding areas that are thriving. Tyrone Mall will be opening a new movie theater soon complete with seats that vibrate. An investor bought Raytheon and plans to develop there. Though it’s not clear yet what will go up, anything is better than what is there now.

All of this awesomeness has won St. Pete some equally awesome honors: the Sunshine City at the top place for Millennials and craft lovers, the second-most beautiful city in the U.S., and the best walking destination in Florida.

Go on with your bad self, St. Pete.

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 Patch.com 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 janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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