Grow Smarter

People, Prosperity, Place

In 2014, the City of St. Pete and the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce together hired Market Street Services, Inc to build a strategy for growing St. Pete’s economic position.

The Grow Smarter Strategy targets specific job sectors for growth and development. In these “targets”, competitive advantages exist, prospects for future growth are greatest, and return on investment is likely highest.

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5 Target Job Sectors

The Grow Smarter Strategy targets these 5 job sectors for growth in St. Pete. The strategy outlines specific focus areas, goals, and actions for St. Pete’s economic future.

Strategic Focus Areas

Within the five target sectors, we’ll build initiatives that support these six strategic focus areas.

We’ve achieved much already.

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Grow Smarter is a partnership between the City of St. Petersburg & The St. Pete Chamber of Commerce. It is an economic development project who purpose is to assess and enhance St. Petersburg’s competitive positioning for quality, diverse economic growth.

The Grow Smarter project began in 2014, when the 10-month assessment stage took place, gathering quantitative and qualitative data from St. Petersburg residents and diverse community stakeholders through focus groups, surveys, and other reliable data sources.

The Grow Smarter Strategy compares St. Petersburg against other regional cities of similar size and economic prospect. In many cases, the Tampa Metro Area is used as a marker, and St. Petersburg is compared to county, state, and national trends.

The collected data.

Qualitative Data

Stakeholders and focus group interviews, and large survey with 1500 responses

Quantitative Data

Reputable and reliable private, non-profit, local, state, and national government data sources were leveraged, with every effort made to match methodologies and units of comparison across sources to provide the most accurate and informative analysis of St. Petersburg’s demographic trends, economic structure, and sense of place.

 

Data Sources: For full details, see Comprehensive Assessment Appendices

The Strategy

This report synthesized reputable quantitative data along with qualitative data from stakeholder interviews and a public survey to frame a picture of St. Pete as a place to live, work, visit, do business.

Rather than simply describing data trends, the Competitive Assessment synthesizes key findings from the analysis and community input framing the discussion around key “stories” and competitive issues faced by the community.

From this analysis, four St. Petersburg Stories emerged:

  • A Stagnant but Changing Population
  • Returning to Residential Growth: Attractiveness to Existing and New Residents
  • A Stalled but Evolving Economy
  • Returning to Economic Growth: Competitiveness to Existing and New Businesses

St. Petersburg trends are then compared against the cities of Durham, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Orlando, Florida.

Using the findings from the first phase, the Target Business Analysis evaluated the city’s workforce, existing economic strengths, global trends, and both obvious and “aspirational” job sectors. These target job sectors help city leaders understand the make-up and potential growth areas of St. Petersburg’s economy. The goal of the Target Business Analysis was to identify how to diversify and strengthen the economy through entrepreneurship, existing business expansion, and recruitment.

Target Business Sectors

  • Marine & life sciences
  • Specialized manufacturing
  • Financial services
  • Data analytics
  • Creative arts & design

Numerous strategies to foster and expand growth in these target sectors are outlined in the Grow Smarter Strategy section.

During this phase, a Marketing Analysis was performed, it reviewed of principal marketing programs and tools of various stakeholders in St. Pete including the city of St. Pete and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as regional entities.

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The culmination of phases 1-3, this stage outlines proposed goals, strategies, and actions to generate economic growth and prosperity. This Strategy is holistic and inclusive of the many components that affect St. Petersburg’s ability to be a prosperous community.

Goals

  • People
  • Prosperity
  • Place

The following actions were determined by the Grow Smarter Steering Committee through group discussion and participation on an online comment survey. They represent the most impactful, priority activities that the Grow Smarter implementation team should focus on during the initial months after strategic launch.

Strategies

  • District & Corridor Development
  • Targeted Job Creation
  • Awareness Building
  • Entrepreneurial Growth
  • Coordinated Education & Training
  • Culture & Community

Actions

  • Formalize the development of a Downtown St. Petersburg Innovation District (1.1)
  • Proceed with holistic strategies to reduce poverty in South St. Petersburg (1.3)
  • Capitalize on citywide development opportunities along key St. Petersburg transportation corridors (1.4)
  • Effectively support the growth ambitions of established St. Petersburg companies (2.1)
  • Pursue specific actions to grow St. Petersburg’s target business sectors (2.2)
  • Develop targeted St. Petersburg external marketing capacity and tools (3.1)
  • Promote St. Petersburg as a growing hub for entrepreneurial and startup activity (3.2)
  • Enhance the availability of capital for new business formation (4.1)
  • Formalize new partnerships to advance “cradle-to-career” education (5.1)

If the Strategy is the “what,” the Implemention is the “how.” This phase lays out the structure of the implementation of goals, initiatives, and strategies. The Implementation Plan will serve as the road map for putting the Strategy into motion. It outlines the activities of the Strategy’s objectives on a day-by-day, month-by-month, and year-by-year basis. Specifically, it lays out the organizational structure, prioritizes proposed actions, and designates working groups for each strategy.

Prioritized Actions

  • Effectively support the growth ambitions of established St. Petersburg companies (2.1)
  • Pursue specific actions to grow St. Petersburg’s target business sectors (2.2)
  • Develop targeted St. Petersburg external marketing capacity and tools (3.1)
  • Promote St. Petersburg as a growing hub for entrepreneurial and startup activity (3.2)
  • Formalize the development of a Downtown St. Petersburg Innovation District (1.1)
  • Enhance the availability of capital for new business formation (4.1)
  • Formalize new partnerships to advance “cradle-to-career” education (5.1)
  • Proceed with holistic strategies to reduce poverty in South St. Petersburg (1.3)

Working Groups

  • District & Corridor Development
  • Targeted Job Creation
  • Awareness Building
  • Entrepreneurial Growth
  • Coordinated Education & Training
  • Culture & Community