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Pinellas County job growth exceeds expectations

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Pinellas County employers created 5,730 new high-wage jobs in primary industries from 2015 to 2017, surpassing the goal of 3,958 jobs set in a 2014 study.

A primary industry is one that brings wealth into a locality by selling most of its goods or services outside of the locality. A primary company (in a primary industry) shares the wealth by making local purchases and paying its employees more. These local sales transactions result in widespread economic growth.

Information technology, manufacturing and financial services are examples of primary industries offering high-wage primary jobs that elevate a community’s economic profile in general.

“Economies grow in size based upon the volume of money flowing into an area. Economies grow in quality based upon what individuals earn each year, as what they earn determines their ‘economic quality of life’,” said William H. Fruth, the study’s author.

Since primary companies are location-independent, they do not have to choose Pinellas County, although they do for various reasons, including top employee talent, a low cost of doing business and low taxes.

“Pinellas is the first built-out county in Florida,” said Kenneth Welch, Chairman of the 2018 Pinellas Board of County Commissioners. “By proactively addressing our redevelopment strategies and the needs of our employers, we’re working to ensure that our community continues to be a very attractive location for growing and attracting companies to create jobs.”

The 3,958 job goal was set in the 2014 Pinellas Economic Development Goal Study. Also in 2014, the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce and the City of St. Pete partnered to release the Grow Smarter Strategy, an initiative focusing on growth in five specific job sectors: Marine and life sciences, data analytics, specialized manufacturing, creative arts and design, and financial services.

Within each of those five sectors, the Grow Smarter Strategy has six strategic focus areas: culture and community; district and corridor development; coordinated education and training; entrepreneurial growth; targeted job creation; awareness building.

Overall, the Grow Smarter Strategy has four phases: A competitive assessment report, a target business analysis, the strategy itself and an implementation plan.

“Pinellas is on track for a strong economic quality of life,” Pinellas County Economic Development director Mike Meidel said. “We can influence job creation within our targeted primary industries in Pinellas, and our continuing goal is to create more and better jobs for our citizens.”

According to the 2018 Economic Development Performance Evaluation, both wages and jobs grew in 2015 and 2017. Although the county did well in creating jobs in target industries, average annual wages lagged slightly behind.

Pinellas County’s lack of greenfield industrial property makes it more dificult for traditional target industries to grow in the county, and it makes the county less attractive to prospective employers. To these ends, the county has begun to find more potential locations for primary companies.

As business prospects continue to improve in Pinellas, Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) will continue to track and monitor myriad indices of economic growth in the area.

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