Anne Drake McMullen’s Leadership as Chair of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce concluded on January 24th, 2019. It was a distinct honor to serve as the 119th Chair of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and its 4th female Chair.
The Chamber represents over 1,000 businesses in St. Petersburg, which is a thriving city home to trendy Beach Drive restaurants, funky Central Avenue nightspots, eclectic galleries nestled among wall murals, and the edge district flowing with craft breweries. There is something for everyone, whether you live in a downtown condo, nearby neighborhoods, or are simply visiting the area.
When I began my term of office, I challenged Chamber leaders to tell “The St. Pete Story” to our colleagues, friends, and visitors. As I look back upon our firm’s engagement with the Chamber since 2010, the growth of the community has been nothing short of astonishing. Since the Great Recession, we have witnessed an economic expansion and corresponding construction of many new buildings including condos, research facilities, hotels, university residences and academic buildings, hospital facilities, museums, and more.
The Grow Smarter Initiative ensured that our economic growth focused on inclusive prosperity thanks to our collaboration with the City of St. Petersburg and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete, who provided the Chamber a $1.2 million grant. This grant helped serve 3,286 entrepreneurs through the Greenhouse Small Business Collaborative.
This commitment to diversity and inclusion was built on the legacy of leaders who came before us. I am proud to report that we witnessed, during my term of office, the most diverse Chamber Board, Executive Committee, Leadership St. Pete Class, Entrepreneurial Academy Class, and Policy Committees in the history of the Chamber.
During my term, it was a year of great accomplishments. The Chamber added 316 new members; graduated 50-plus entrepreneurs from the Entrepreneur Academies; celebrated over 78 ribbon cuttings to welcome new members, and over 150 Young Professionals invested over 1,000 service hours in our community.
We also proudly defined the St. Pete Chamber as a “Purple” organization and pivoted away from partisan labels that would seek to define us as a red or blue community. That is the St Pete Story that we told in 2018.
The Chamber looks forward to 2019 and celebrating the city’s economic engine with the planned opening of the new Pier, completion of the One St. Pete condo tower, continuing the ferry to Tampa, and opening the Museum of American Arts and Crafts Movement.
To quote Chris Steinocher, the Chamber’s President and CEO, “We celebrate the gifts of past chamber leaders and gladly accept their challenge to do epic good work today, for the benefit of future generations.” On January 24th I passed the gavel to my successor, Bill Kent, President of George F. Young Engineering. I wish him an innovative, epic, and prosperous year in 2019.