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About Grow Smarter

Grow Smarter exists to align partners and to expand the idea of economic development to include areas like entrepreneurship, arts & culture, housing, education, and more. To ensure that this mission benefits all who live in St. Pete, the program applies a lens of equity (defined here as the absence of social disparities and ability of all residents to participate, prosper, and reach their full potential) to its work.

The Grow Smarter Alliance

The Grow Smarter Alliance is an advisory board of leaders representing for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations. They activate their collective power toward policy and programmatic priorities.

City of St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation
St. Petersburg Arts Alliance
Pinellas County Urban League
One Community
St. Pete Business League
St. Pete Downtown Partnership
St. Petersburg Innovation District
St. Pete Works
St. Petersburg Greenhouse
St. Pete Chamber of Commerce
Leadership St. Petersburg Alumni Association
Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg
University of South Florida
St. Petersburg College
Eckerd College
Pinellas Community Church
Pinellas County School Board
Florida Blue
Regions Bank
Habitat for Humanity
Deuces Live
St. Petersburg Police Department
Bayfront/Orlando Health
Sierra Club
St. Pete Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Support During COVID-19

Grow Smarterconducted two rapid Community Needs Assessments during 2020. The first was completed in early April, and included nearly 200 online survey responses from local businessesas well as input from Grow Smarter’s steering committee and community leaders across the business, faith, nonprofit, and government sectors. Based on this needs assessment,Grow Smarter designed its COVID-19 response in partnership with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, the Greenhouse, St. Pete Chamber, St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation, One Community, SPC, St. Pete Arts Alliance, Warehouse Arts District Association, Deuces Live, and others.

Grow Smarter conducted a second rapid Community Needs Assessment in May 2020, to ensure our efforts were still on track.


Based on the needs assessments described above, Grow Smarter created a comprehensive community response.

  • The Business ResiliencTeam navigators based at the St. Petersburg Greenhouse serve as advocates for local businesses, identifying needs and helping connect them to resources and subject-matter experts 
  • BRT members will focus their outreach on minority and women-owned businesses and sole proprietors throughout St. Petersburg, with a focus on South St. Petersburg.  
  • Grow Smarter will fund one year of GoZone Wi-Fi connectivity on the Deuces Live corridor, as well as two additional GoZone Wi-Fi hotspots in South St. Petersburg. 
  • Grow Smarter will support a Resource and Resiliency Hub located at thWarehouse Arts District Association to support residents who are affected by COVID-19 in partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay, Bay Area Legal Council, Deuces Live, One Community, and other organizations. 
  • Grow Smarter will provide funding to St Pete Arts Alliance to support their efforts to alleviate COVID-19 hardships endured within the arts and culture community. 
  • Grow Smarter will contribute $25,000 to One Community’s #InThisTogether COVID Support program, to be distributed to businesses and residents of South St. Pete in the form of microgrants, new contracts and new gigs. 
  • Grow Smarter will create an endowed Grow Smarter Scholarship Program at SPCof which $25,000 will be distributed in 2020. The scholarship will be for certification programs in the Grow Smarter targeted industry areas. Grow Smarter will aim to amplify this investment through soliciting additional donations from other partners. 

Build an inclusive, multi-sector initiative to create equitable economic growth in St. Petersburg by building connections, advancing conversations and sparking action.


St. Petersburg will grow equitably and have a vibrant, diversified economy that benefits all.

Grow Smarter began in 2014 as a partnership between the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of St. Petersburg to enhance the city’s ability to support diverse economic growth.
The Grow Smarter Strategy identified five target industry sectors primed for growth and development in St. Petersburg: Marine & Life Science, Data Analytics, Specialized Manufacturing, Creative Arts & Design, and Financial Services. The strategy also led to the creation of the Economic Development Corporation, formalization of the St. Petersburg Innovation District, and more.

In 2018, a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg allowed Grow Smarter to hire staff and bring an equity lens to these economic development efforts.  Since 2018, Grow Smarter has helped spark St. Pete Pitch Night, supported Digital Inclusion work, and connected with hundreds of community partners.

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