Experienced economic development executive Michael D. Swesey has been named president & CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation. He will take the helm at the public-private organization on November 6 at a time when St. Petersburg is poised to begin one of the most important downtown redevelopment projects in the country.
Swesey is an authentic and approachable leader with more than 30 years of economic development experience. For the past two decades he has driven economic growth in a variety of roles at the Greater Des Moines Partnership in Des Moines, Iowa, most recently as executive vice president. He led 30 successful expansion/relocation projects each year, creating more than $1B in new capital investment. He has marketed the business advantages of that region to site selection consultants, corporate real estate executives, and a national network of business location influencers he has built.
“Florida is appealing to businesses around the world because of its commerce-friendly climate,” said Swesey, “and St. Pete is the best location in the state, with its dynamic workforce, expanding culture of innovation, and warm and inclusive business community—all drawn by the Sunshine City’s effortlessly cool quality of life. With this plus the redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District—it’s an economic developer’s dream.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch, who served on the CEO Search Committee, said, “We are excited that Mike will be part of the City’s focus on inclusive progress and intentional equity as we work to attract a range of businesses that contribute innovation and investment to St. Pete. We are creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity in the Historic Gas Plant District redevelopment with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Hines Historic Gas Plant Partnership, and Mike’s background and commitment to equitable economic development make him the right choice. Partnerships are important and we look forward to Mike’s leadership in our community.”
“After an extensive national search, we found someone with an outstanding background in business attraction as well as an existing passion for St. Pete,” said St. Pete EDC Chair Elect Bill Kent, president of George F. Young, who chaired the organization’s CEO Search Committee. “In addition, Mike’s exceptional relationship-building skills will serve the EDC well as we collaborate with our economic development partners and work with the City and Rays + Hines to promote the unparalleled opportunity in the Historic Gas Plant District that will attract companies from all over the country and around the world.”
Swesey’s Midwestern roots position him well for St. Petersburg’s welcoming culture, and he is no stranger to the Suncoast region, having visited friends here many times each year over the past 20 years. “I’ve always enjoyed spending time in the Sunshine City for pleasure and now feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to promote Paradise as one of the country’s most exciting places for innovative businesses.”
Swesey will replace J.P. DuBuque, who left the EDC in May for a position in the private sector. DuBuque was the St. Pete EDC’s first president and was responsible for working with EDC investors and stakeholders to build the public-private organization focused on attracting higher-paying jobs to St. Petersburg. Today the St. Pete EDC is supported by 65+ organizations and has worked with more than 60 companies on relocation or expansion in the Sunshine City.
About the St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation
The St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation helps innovative companies discover, explore, and choose St. Pete for relocation or expansion. The St. Pete EDC promotes greater St. Petersburg as a place where innovators thrive in a vibrant and authentically warm business community. The private-public partnership supported by more than 65 organizations markets the Sunshine City to and works with executives, referral sources, and site selection consultants for companies in the City’s target sectors in professional services, advanced manufacturing, and the blue/green economy.
When companies consider our area, the EDC serves as their “St. Pete Concierge,” collaborating with community partners to inform and connect prospects to resources for space availability, talent attraction, funding, incentive navigation, workforce development, education, liaison with local government, and any other needs they may have to decide if St. Pete’s a fit so they can “Become St. Pete.” These companies generate opportunities for the people of St. Pete, bringing new jobs, investment, and innovation to the Sunshine City. For more, visit stpeteedc.com.