2018 Grow Smarter Summit Recap

Grow Smarter’s second annual Summit in early December brought over 200 community members together to discuss the future of St. Pete.  If you missed the event or want a refresher, read on!

You can also click here to download the powerpoint presentation from the Summit.

Opening remarks from 2018 Grow Smarter Steering Committee Chair Ryan Griffin and presenting sponsor Bank of Tampa kicked off the Summit.  These remarks were followed by an engaging video from Dr. Kanika Tomlin that highlighted the city’s support of Grow Smarter.

Next Sean Kennedy, VP of Economic and Community Development at the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce discussed the evolution of the Grow Smarter Strategy.  He explained that Grow Smarter is an economic development initiative that allows everyone to participate in St. Pete’s growth.  Also representing the Chamber, President and CEO Chris Steinocher interviewed Randall Russel, Founding CEO and President of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg regarding the funding and support that the Foundation is providing to Grow Smarter.  The Foundation has awarded Grow Smarter a $1.2 million multi-year grant to take Grow Smarter to the next level.

Grow Smarter Data Analyst Justin Johnson next provided an overview of the interim results of the Grow Smarter Community Survey, and Grow Smarter Facilitator Dr. Keesha Benson discussed the new Grow Smarter team and how to get involved in the initiative.

In the second and third sessions of the day the Grow Smarter Workgroup Chairs & Participants discussed exciting collaborations taking place and their bright spots from the year. The first panel was on the topic “The Future Jobs of St. Pete: Workforce Development”.

The second panel was titled “The St. Pete of the Future: Placemaking” and discussion centered around how the arts & culture of St. Pete contribute’s to the vibrancy of its economy.

The closing session included a keynote presentation from Don Jones, the Associate Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.  Don’s presentation was titled “Building an Inclusive Economy through Entrepreneurship: Lessons from Detroit”.

The Summit successfully highlighted the collaborative work that has taken place across Grow Smarter’s seven core workgroups: Districts & Corridor Development, Targeted Job Creation, Coordinated Education & Training, Entrepreneurial Growth, Culture & Community, Housing, and Awareness Building.  We greatly enjoyed engaging in discussions about the future of St. Pete and look forward to what Grow Smarter 2.0 will bring.

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