The Future is Bright in St. Pete

The Future is Bright in St. Pete
Words by Ashley Locke

Most of the time, you associate a place with its places and landmarks. New York has the Statue of Liberty, Arizona has the Grand Canyon, and Louisiana has Bourbon Street—but St. Petersburg, Florida is different. When you think about St. Pete, you think about its people. 

St. Pete has experienced a renaissance lately—the city has a vibrant and thriving business community that encourages entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams. “Our people come together in an inclusive way that allows everyone’s passion to shine.” said Deputy Mayor, Kanika Tomalin. “We have resources like the St. Pete Greenhouse, a figurative play on the literal work of a greenhouse, where businesses can go for resources to help them grow. At the Greenhouse, they’ll find networks of investors and potential customers, as well as business owners ready to serve in mentoring capacities.”

The Greenhouse provides great results for businesses, helping them build the momentum to make it past their infancy. Once business owners see the support they have from the community and the local government, they never want to leave. When you decide to live and grow in St. Pete, you become tied to the community. 

The flourishing business scene includes five key sectors: life and health sciences, digital analytics, financial services, creative arts, and design—but that’s not all that is growing. Their hospitality industry is booming as well, with bed and breakfasts, breweries, and restaurants. The growth is making St. Pete an attractive city for everyone from business owners to families and tourists. 

“People are unexpectedly wowed. The natural beauty of our city is compounded by the culture. We’re a very welcoming southern coastal city with lots of hospitality.” said Dr. Tomalin. “We have lots of galleries, museums, live music, and world class restaurants.”

Since the city runs on hospitality, the Coronavirus caused a shock to its system—but the citizens of St. Pete did what they do best and leaned on each other. “We’re a community of small businesses. The owners, employees, and customers are a tightly knit ecosystem. Pretty quickly, everyone came together to turn social capital into a safety net just as tightly woven.” said Dr. Tomalin. “Our Chamber and City Council, the Mayor's Office—everyone who has any influence has rolled up their sleeves and dug deep providing meals, new sources for grants, and more. It’s been an opportunity as opposed to a challenge.”

As for tourists, St. Pete has a plan to take care of them too! “A huge part of our economy and lifestyle was being gracious hosts and welcoming people from the outside. We are not a socially distant community, but we’re learning how to maintain our spirit. We’ve seen people come together virtually, or distanced in public spaces.” said Dr. Tomalin. “We’re also going to get really smart about the way we translate being a business in St Pete. We’re a populated city, but the way we move around our city allows for personal space to be preserved. You don’t have to park in a crowded garage to access a theater or restaurant and you don’t have to take public transit to get downtown.”

When you think St. Pete, you think people—and that’s why the city’s future is bright.