The new chairman of the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp. has three top priorities for the coming year.
Key focuses will be investor relations, staffing and brand building, said Chad Loar, PNC Bank’s regional president for West and Central Florida.
Loar took over the chairman’s role from David Punzak, associate general counsel at Tech Data Corp., during the EDC’s annual meeting Thursday night at OpenHouse St. Petersburg, a celebration that drew about 150 people.
Loar detailed the work ahead in the coming year.
Enhance and advance the investor relations committee. The committee, established last year, revised investment levels to ensure a sustainable, engaged investor base and an investor development campaign raised $75,500 in new revenue for 2018. “This year, we’re going to reach out to members to make sure the EDC is providing value that you expect and fulfilling expectations,” Loar said.
Staff. The EDC, which currently has just two paid staff members, plans to hire a sales development associate who will focus on data mining and analytics. That will allow J.P. DuBuque, president of the EDC, to lead more business development missions, such as the trip he and Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Denver in December.
Branding. The EDC has convened a committee to focus on market opportunities around the Tropicana Field site, where there’s a new level of energy and excitement, Loar said. It’s also promoting the workforce resource map, which features more than 75 community resources to support local employers and encourage the growth of local companies.
In addition to Loar, 2019 officers are: John McLain, CEO, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and EDC vice chair; Jill Wilkinson, market president St. Petersburg, SunTrust Bank and EDC secretary and treasurer; Bob Warchola, partner at Shumaker Loop & Kendrick and EDC general counsel; and Punzak, immediate past chair.
The St. Pete EDC, formed in late 2016 as a public-private partnership, has almost 60 companies in its investor base — 17 of them added in the past year — said DuBuque.
In the two years since the EDC was established, DuBuque has traveled to 12 cities on business development missions, and visited 243 local businesses.
The organization has opened 52 job creation prospects, Punzak said. A prospect is defined as a business looking to relocate that’s within one of five targeted industries in the Grow Smarter economic development strategy – marine and life science, data analytics, financial services, creative arts and design, and specialized manufacturing.
A dozen companies that have created 467 high-wage jobs were established in St. Pete in the past two years, with the help of the EDC.
See the gallery for more highlights of the EDC meeting.