Wednesday, October 09, 2013

St. Pete leaders consider more aggressive economic development

Tribune staff

When Magna Marque wanted to open a plant to manufacture electric bikes in St. Petersburg, it talked with city officials about renting a building in the port.

At the time, city officials were hopeful of attracting a cruise liner and were reluctant to lease the building, said City Council Chairman Karl Nurse.

The Ontario-based company, instead, opened a plant in Europe. The port building is still sitting empty.

Missed opportunities such as that one have frustrated members of City Council who say the city’s economic development office does not do enough to market the city and that when businesses do come knocking, city officials are too slow to close deals.

Now, Nurse is proposing a partnership with the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce to boost the marketing of St. Petersburg to companies across the United States. Under the agreement, the chamber would match any funding the city puts up to hire a marketer and negotiator, someone who could quickly close deals with businesses considering coming to the city.

Without that, the city could continue to lose out to other cities, including Tampa, he said. More here.

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