Pinellas County Economic Development

Client: Pinellas County Economic Development
Industry: Economic Development/Government


Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) is a public organization founded to promote economic development and create more and better jobs with a diversified industry base in Pinellas County. The organization had not developed a new strategic plan in several years. Faced with new challenges and an expanded mission, they required an outside moderator to help develop a new plan.


HCP was engaged in providing a framework and facilitating a strategic planning process for the organization to adopt and share with Pinellas County Administration. The information provided was gathered through a series of stakeholder interviews, secondary research, and an immersive group planning session. Several opportunities for leadership and staff members were uncovered in this process that reprioritizes various functions of their operations. These opportunities include the institution of a clear hierarchy of priorities and the clarification of PCED’s mission to the region.

Established in 1997 and launched a year later, PCED provides a variety of resources and services that aid in the region’s economic development and foster the pro-business climate of Pinellas County. These resources are focused on all stages of a given business’s life span—from before its inception to a growing or tenured business. The mission statement of PCED is fostering a “high-quality economic growth and vitality through the attraction, expansion, and retention of businesses that provide high-wage employment opportunities.”

Throughout the strategic planning process, HCP administered a multi-faceted approach to understand the industry and sentiments from those working at PCED. This process provided the necessary platform for all voices to be heard within the organization, allowing for a more open discussion on crucial topics and critical issues regarding PCED and their primary objectives. Results from this strategic planning study established a set of fundamental guidelines and recommendations to expand the organization’s effectiveness in tackling pressing issues that Pinellas County faces today.

Of the current challenges to economic development in Pinellas County, the lack of available vacant land is among the most serious. Pinellas County is the first county in Florida to have reached buildout, quantified by the shortage of any large tracts of uniform on which to build. To combat the lack of available resources, PCED must begin refocusing efforts toward the redevelopment of brownfield and greyfield sites while reflecting this change within the organization’s internal structure and priorities.

Along with analyses of several discussion themes, HCP performed a holistic overview of economic development information and gathered feedback from municipalities within the county. It was found that, although the organization is relatively small and does not boast the sheer number of staff resources that other economic development organizations maintain, PCED is on the cutting edge of the economic development profession. PCED engages with all five phases of economic development, including the nascent emphasis on community, environmental sustainability, and lifestyle factors as important economic development drivers.

After completing the strategic planning project for PCED, an in-depth report was created to outline the current conditions with which PCED operates, detail HCP’s findings, provide comprehensive recommendations, and propose new key performance indicators for the organization.