As the Sunshine City has experienced exponential growth, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of St. Petersburg established Grow Smarter. Grow Smarter has functioned as a collaborative partnership since 2014, with a focus on strategic economic development.
As of 2018, Grow Smarter received $1.2 million in funding from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg to expand the mission of promoting equitable economic growth throughout St. Petersburg, thus moving forward with Grow Smarter 2.0.
Grow Smarter follows a multi-sector collaborative community approach—meaning they’re a small team backed by an army of volunteers. The Grow Smarter staff helps to guide and inform seven separate workgroups, each focused on essential components of equitable economic growth. These workgroups are made up of community volunteers: individuals representing community partners, citizens, local businesses, non-profits, and various government entities.
Volunteers are grouped according to their areas of interest and expertise. As of 2019, Grow Smarter’s seven strategic priority areas are: Targeted Job Creation, Coordinated Education and Training, District and Corridor Development, Culture and Community Entrepreneurial Growth, Housing, and Awareness Building.
Grow Smarter promotes equitable economic development via a workgroup structure. Volunteers aid in shaping a variety of approaches; examples include sharing and consolidating information and data, connecting organizations with corresponding missions, analyzing participant and community input, and conducting studies.
Grow Smarter embraces the continual evolution of its community-driven, collective work, by offering guidance within a structure that will continually evolve based on the addition of new information, people, concerns, and actions; resulting in the best possible outcomes for all that love to live, work, and play in St. Petersburg.
Stay tuned for more updates and continue to track Grow Smarter’s progress here.