Paying the Bills Smarter
Life in St. Petersburg is sustained by a diverse economy. Employers range from online shopping giant HSN to the more obscure Dairy-Mix, which turns milk from Florida cows into the soft-serve ice cream sold at Florida McDonald's.
Think of them as the wizards behind the curtains. They are the businesses helping make the ones you know successful. The companies that set up computer systems, analyze data, provide marketing services, handle employee benefits. St. Petersburg is home to some of the world’s largest and most innovative support companies. Business leaders say the synergy between the existing companies combined with the city’s skilled workforce, diversity and quality of life makes it attractive for more.
Tech Data is a giant in the industry of technology distribution and integration and ranks No. 107 on the Fortune 500. Headquartered in neighboring Clearwater, it employs more than 2,000 locally and close to 14,000 internationally. “We’re a global company,” says John O’Shea of Tech Data. “As Tampa Bay evolves, St. Petersburg is creating a richness in diversity that is helping us.”
A growing segment of support services, particularly marketing, relates to big data. Over the past 10 years the data analytics sector in St. Petersburg has grown by 36%. Kobie Marketing, a leader in loyalty marketing headquartered in St. Petersburg, has been named one of Inc. magazine’s fastest growing private companies seven years running.
Another star in the St. Petersburg business sky is Triad Retail Media, which supplies online ads for retail giants such as Walmart and eBay. Launched in 2004, it grew 25% to 30% a year for almost a decade. Though it was purchased by British advertising and public relations giant WPP in 2016, it continues to be headquartered in St. Petersburg where it employs about 400.
Some other major area business services providers include: iQor, Valpak, Crystal Clear Technologies, Ceridian and SavvyCard.
It may surprise many, but St. Petersburg, a city of tourism and arts, is also home to a hub of specialty manufacturers including Jabil, one of the world’s largest.
St. Petersburg’s specialty manufacturing industry generates $979 million in export. More than 5,000 people work in the city’s manufacturing industry, which is bolstered by the city’s higher learning institutions, workforce agencies and manufacturing associations.
St. Petersburg College, the University of South Florida and Pinellas Technical College help provide a skilled workforce. CareerSource Pinellas together with FloridaMakes, a statewide industry-led partnership, offers advanced manufacturing training at the Science Center in St. Petersburg. The Bay Area Manufacturing Association (BAMA) trains workers as well as helps manufacturers find them. BAMA also supports STEM education in area high schools, including robotics training.
While St. Petersburg has a variety of specialty manufacturing companies, its primary areas of exports are medical and electronics.
Among the global medical manufacturers based in St. Petersburg are: Halkey-Roberts, which makes medical valves, clamps and other specialty devices; Aurora Surgical, a manufacturer of surgical tools for ophthalmic surgeons; Synergy Health, a medical products sterilization company; MTS Medication, which produces specialized medical packaging; and Plasma-Therm, a maker of blood plasma processing equipment.
St. Petersburg electronics manufacturers have evolved to the challenges of rapidly changing digital technologies. Jabil, a Fortune 500 company, headquartered in St. Petersburg since 1982, is the third largest electronics manufacturer in the world and one of the two largest companies in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to manufacturing, Jabil is now also a manufacturing and supply chain solutions provider.
Jabil designs, engineers and produces electronic components for everything from smart clothing to military weapons. Its client list includes other global companies that touch most every industry. It employs nearly 177,000 worldwide and 1,700 in St. Petersburg who work at its headquarters, manufacturing plant, Solar and Environmental Test Center, design division and its Radius subsidiary.
Jabil may be largest, but it’s not the only electronics manufacturer in St. Petersburg. Some others include ELREHA Printed Circuits, Aurora Semiconductor and HT Global Circuits.
Consequently, the area is also home to global electronic component distributors, including NAC Semi and America II Group.