Following is a transcript of the keynote speech St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman gave at LocalShops1's Best in Biz Awards and 7th Birthday Bash. Photo by Rob Moorman, Moorman Photographics.
Good evening. Happy 7th Birthday to LocalShops1.
Congrats on getting Noah Pransky to emcee your birthday bash. I celebrated my 53rd birthday this week - and all Noah gave me was a public records request.
In all seriousness, I think it’s great that Noah is here, giving his time to a great organization, and making sure I don’t accept any free drinks. Thank you, Noah.
Tonight, we celebrate not just all Ester and Mo have done, but we celebrate what I think makes St. Petersburg so special; our local shops - our small businesses.
You know how I feel about our small businesses, and how much of an emphasis my Administration has placed on them. We are here to help, and sometimes that means getting the hell out of the way.
The Greenhouse (formerly the Business Assistance Center) has served over 8,000 unique clients. 5,800 people have received small business counseling.
In the past 19 months, I’ve visited about 100 small businesses in our city; these are official visits, usually with my Greenhouse Manager and small business liaison, Jessica Eilerman.
During these visits we’ve done a lot of listening and a lot of learning, and we’ve done some things to make life a little easier for our business owners.
And in the coming months, we hope to make things a little easier for our aspiring business owners.
The White House recently issued a report that says when it comes to the ease of doing business, America is top 10 in the world. But when it comes to starting a business, we’re ranked 46th — much of this is due to navigating the state and local requirements needed to start a business.
Now, I don’t want to get too detailed tonight - but I do want to take advantage of this opportunity to share the news that we’ve taken a pledge to develop an online tool for entrepreneurs to be able to identify and apply for all requirements within a single day; a streamlined, business-friendly, online permitting system, so that the entire application process moves online.
Our City’s new vision statement says “we will be an innovative, creative, and competitive community”. While I like to tout regionalism, I also like to win. The last thing I want is for an entrepreneur to go to a neighboring city to do business.
And my pledge to you is that I will always champion what you’re doing and what all of our local shops are doing.
You are what makes St. Pete so special.
And so I thank you, and I congratulate all those being honored.
May the sun always shine on our innovators and entrepreneurs and local shops.