November 8 - 11
"Entrepreneurship and Inclusive Economic Growth"
A Project for Canada
Leading Canadian Black entrepreneurs came to Tampa Bay to explore equitable and inclusive economic development strategies, and generated lively and intense discussions with the administration of St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, community leaders and local entrepreneurs.
The program opened with a panel discussion on public initiatives focused on building the policy ecosystem for economic equity, and was hosted by Mayor Welch at the St. Petersburg Police Department. Topics ranged from workforce development, housing, capacity-building, equity technical skills, and supplier diversity initiatives. The discussion also included the process leading to the Historic Gas Plant District re-development project. Panelists included Chief Anthony Holloway, SPPD Chief of Police; Mr. Tom Greene, Assistant City Administrator; Mr. James Corbett, Community Development Administrator; Mr. Brian Caper, Economic and Workforce Development Director; and Ms. Kourey Hendryx-Bell, Supplier Diversity Manager. Lunch was catered by local superstar Heavy's Food Truck!
An afternoon session at the St. Pete Greenhouse, a "one-stop shop" providing local business owners and entrepreneurs with the education, resources and assistance necessary to thrive in the local economy. The Greenhouse is a public/private partnership between the City, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and private partners. Ms. Tracey Smith, Small Business Liaison and Greenhouse Co-Manager, led a discussion by African-American entrepreneurs who have benefited from Greenhouse service.
Ms. Terri Lipsey Scott, Executive Director, hosted the Canadian entrepreneurs at the Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum for a reception and more informal discussion about the creation of a new Woodson museum as part of the Historic Gas Plant District re-development, making it the only purpose-built African-American museum building in Florida. The museum currently features legacy works by the children of the legendary Florida Highwaymen, African-American landscape painters. Thanks to the St. Petersburg Police Department for their generous sponsorship of the reception. Ms. Scott invited the group back next evening for a panel discussion on Black Philanthropy, part of the Tampa Bay Afro-Futurism Festival, with one of our visitors joining the panel.
The second day of programming brought together a panel of community leaders and entrepreneurs who spoke to the importance of representation, community engagement, and presence to have the "courageous conversations" necessary for equitable economic development. Discussion was led by Dr. Kanika Tomlin, CEO and president of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg; Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development; Ms. Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, CEO and President of Pinellas County Urban League. Panel discussants included Mr. Pat V. Mack, President and CEO, PVM; Mr. Jonathan D. Graham, President, HORUS Construction; and Ms. Renee Edwards, President, Skin Kandii, LLC. The morning session concluded with a tour of "The Deuces", St. Pete's historic African-American main street, the St. Pete Youth Farm, and areas in the community redevelopment area. Lunch was sponsored by World Partnerships at the House of Vegano, an African-American-owned vegan sushi restaurant
The visit concluded with a hands-on tour of the Stavros Institute's "Enterprise Village & Finance Park", the national paradigm for youth economic education (5th Grade) and financial literacy skills (8th Grade). The in-depth tour was led by Ms. Patricia Jeremiah-Pittman, longtime director of the Institute.