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.
The city is home base to some of the largest and most innovative companies, including Raymond James Financial and Jabil. Duke Energy bases its Florida operations in St. Petersburg as do many others, large and small — Tech Data, iQor, Valpak and LumaStream.
To protect the vibe that’s contributed to its success, ensure that prosperity is enjoyed equally, and to attract businesses that complement its existing ones, the city and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce began a Grow Smarter initiative.
The initiative spawned the new St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation and networks of business owners, residents and economic leaders who identified industry clusters to target for future growth. These include marine and life sciences, specialized manufacturing, financial services, data analytics, and creative arts and design.
The city’s first Grow Smarter Summit in December 2017 drew more than 200 business and community leaders. It was an economic pep rally of sorts and a chance for leaders to share the progress and direction of their roles in the ongoing initiative.
Chris Johnson, senior director of government and civic engagement at Jabil, participated and says his company, one of the largest in the Tampa Bay area, is encouraged by the initiative. “I think one of the things that make us excited about the Grow Smarter strategy is that there is a holistic approach because it matters for us as a company how the entire community is doing, not just Jabil. We feel very much that we are a part of the community, and if the entire community is succeeding, that makes it a stronger business environment for us.”
Here’s a closer look at some of St. Petersburg’s traditional and burgeoning industry clusters.
St. Petersburg has long been home to a vibrant health care system, but is now poised to become an international leader in medical research and related life science industries. This industry sector is the county’s fastest growing.
In 2011 St. Petersburg All Children’s Hospital became the first U.S. hospital outside of the Baltimore/D.C. region to be affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine. The merger between the hospitals has attracted world-renowned pediatric specialists and researchers.
It’s also sparked excitement in the city’s Innovation District, which includes the hospital and the site of its latest expansion — a 230,000-sq.-ft. research and educational facility. The $85-million facility is being built adjacent to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus and is scheduled to open in 2018.
“The new research and education building will be a center of discovery, learning and hope, bringing innovation to St. Petersburg,” says Jonathan Ellen, M.D., president and physician-in-chief of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and vice dean and professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Experienced researchers and clinicians will work with new physicians and scientists we are training as pediatric leaders, and together they will develop more precise approaches to treat and prevent disease.”
It will house four pediatric institutes along with specialized labs and classroom space. It will also allow further collaboration between Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and USF Morsani College of Medicine.
Other major hospitals in St. Petersburg include Bayfront Medical and St. Anthony’s Hospital. Bayfront, a for-profit hospital, is affiliated with the USF Morsani College of Medicine. A Level II trauma center, it also is home to Bayflite medical helicopter transport.
St. Anthony’s Hospital is part of the Baycare network, a not-for-profit health care system based in Clearwater. It has expanded and upgraded imaging equipment in recent years. It was the first hospital in St. Petersburg to offer 3D HD surgical robot technology and the first in the area to offer digital mammograms.
The city’s growing life sciences business community includes Informed DNA, Dermazone Solutions, Cognitive Research Corp, Life Sciences Advanced Technologies and Catalent.