St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and members of the administration detailed a relatively positive picture on the state of the City’s economy on Wednesday, Jan. 27, despite the impacts of COVID-19.
A 90-minute virtual presentation focused on the resiliency and diversity of the City’s economy, and acknowledged that this has been an extremely difficult and economically impactful year for many people and businesses.
The presentation went into considerable detail on the Mayor’s four priorities:
- A focus on small businesses
- Equity and workforce development
- Building on the City’s assets
- Planning for the future.
This was the 6th year that administration has held the State of the Economy presentation, allowing for benchmarking and metrics to be compared over previous years. In fact, St. Pete has remained resilient despite the negative impacts of the coronavirus. City Development Administrator Alan DeLisle noted that the Urban Land Institute recently ranked the Tampa Bay area as the sixth market to watch this year, compared to ranking 11th in 2020.
St. Pete estimated nearly 500 businesses in the city were closed due to challenges from the pandemic and approximately 4,200 jobs were lost in the city during the time COVID-19 started impacting the local economy in 2020. That’s about a 3.5% decrease, according to the data presented. However, when compared to statewide figures, where there has been a 16% loss in jobs, city leaders say this indicates the City’s resiliency.
City staff from many departments and the Economic and Workforce Development Department helped more than 2,300 businesses and individuals by granting $6.2 million dollars in emergency relief funds as part of the City’s Fighting Chance Fund.
“Even with COVID going on right now, I sit here today and am incredibly optimistic about St. Petersburg, the economic vitality of St. Petersburg and the people of St. Petersburg,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said.
St. Pete Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting: Looking ahead at a fresh start
Following the City’s presentation, the St. Pete Chamber held their Annual Meeting, a celebration of the accomplishments of the past year, recognition of community leaders and a discussion of the vision for the future of the Chamber and our community.
The Chamber’s 122nd Annual Meeting, held at the Catalyst studios, featured a blend of live interviews and pre-recorded conversations featuring Chamber team members, business owners, elected officials, educators and community thought leaders.
While the Chamber’s typical focus is on helping its members grow and succeed, it quickly became apparent that 2020 would be all about helping businesses survive and providing guidance on how to navigate the turbulent waters ahead due to the pandemic. And that wasn’t all 2020 had in store for them. With the death of George Floyd leading to deeper conversations about systemic racism and an election season filled with political unrest and division, the community could have crumbled. Instead, it thrived.
The Chamber’s Board of Governor’s chair Ryan Griffin moderated the evening’s meeting. “When they say that when the chips are down you can tell what a person’s character is what they’re made of, I will tell you our Chamber showed that more than ever,” Griffin said. “The Chamber, its board, its staff, our members and our partners truly came together. And it is through this collaboration that we accomplished some incredible things and we built a strategic foundation for many, many years to come.”