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August 16, 2018

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City of the Arts

The arts influence on the St. Petersburg lifestyle and economy cannot be overstated. Creativity permeates the city as much as the sunshine.

Lynn Waddell | 1/26/2018

Local and Independent

The arts may inspire the community, but it’s the entrepreneurial independence that keeps the Burg edgy and vibrant. Residents are fiercely supportive of local businesses and wear the city’s new hipster cred with sardonic humor. You’ll see T-shirts designed by artist Chad Mize that read “Paris, London, Tokyo, St. Pete“ being worn all over town.

The city teems with entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop businesses specializing in everything from vintage fashion to coffee to craft beer.

Supporting small, locally owned business is so much the Burg way that two nonprofits formed to champion it. Keep St. Pete Local is a virtual chamber of local, independently owned commerce. It hosts Localtopia, an annual daylong celebration of all things local at downtown Williams Park, and other events throughout the year. A similar non-profit, LocalShops1, promotes the buy-local theme throughout the wider Tampa Bay area. Its annual Shopalooza holiday shopping event near St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront features local makers.

The city government and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce also work to keep the unique local vibe alive and are quick to respond when it’s threatened. After Hurricane Irma, Mayor Rick Kriseman proclaimed a Burg Buys Local week to encourage residents to shop local businesses and help them recover from the financial impacts of the storm. The Chamber of Commerce, Keep St. Pete Local and LocalShops1 worked together to promote it.

The city’s Small Business Initiative helps local businesses get contracts working for the city, and the Greenhouse, a partnership with the city and St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, helps businesses get going and thrive. The Greenhouse is a one-stop help center for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The center’s weekly

1 Million Cups event has become a popular place for aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch business ideas and get feedback. The center offers everything from courses on writing a business plan to info on financing.

Helping Small Businesses

Thrive In addition to the Greenhouse, the non-profit TEC Garage backed by the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and other business groups also helps startups. Providing experienced business coaches and shared workspace, the small business incubator has played a key role in the launch of dozens of businesses that produce everything from learning tools for autistic children to equipment that prevents fleet drivers from texting while driving. The Downtown Partnership also operates a technology fund that provides seed investments in tech-related businesses.

The city’s Economic Development Division, the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation and Pinellas County Economic Development Council offer assistance on everything from location scouting to exporting products.

CareerSource Pinellas helps businesses, professionals and young job seekers through training, job fairs and grants.

Tags: St. Petersburg

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