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Pinellas County names new Economic Development Director

Veronica Brezina

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Cynthia Johnson. Pinellas County.

Pinellas County has named Cynthia Johnson as its new Director of Economic Development.

Johnson assumed her new responsibilities Tuesday, filling a position that became available when the former director retired earlier this year, according to the county’s announcement. 

Last week, the Pinellas County Economic Development department said it was expecting to make a major announcement soon following the retirement of longtime director Mike Meidel, the St. Pete Catalyst reported

Meidel, the former Director of Pinellas County Economic Development, announced his retirement earlier this year after 17 years of service with Pinellas County government. 

“I am both humbled and honored to lead the dynamic and talented team of professionals at Pinellas County Economic Development,” Johnson said in the county’s press release. “Together, we will advance our global competitiveness by continuing to grow a strong and diverse economy, talented workforce and resilient communities.” 

Johnson brings two decades of leadership experience in economic development. She most recently served as director of the department’s Office of Small Business & Supplier Diversity – there, she redesigned the Small Business Enterprise Program and exponentially increased local vendor participation. In her co-role as Director of the Florida Small Business Development Office in Pinellas since 2010, she directed all small business services including retention, increased capital investment, and expansion and diversification opportunities, according to the county. 

“Cynthia’s extensive experience, passion for public service and success at strengthening relationships in our community are proven assets to our Economic Development department,” Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said. 

Johnson is a graduate from Nova Southeastern University. She also holds a diversity & inclusion certification from Cornell University.

Kevin Knutson, an assistant county administrator for Pinellas County, said the department vetted many candidates and held dozens of interviews for the position. 

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