After 17 years, Mike Meidel is retiring April 30 because the Pinellas County director of financial growth. Previous to that position, Meidel was the president and CEO of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce for 5 years. Previous to the chamber, Meidel held govt roles with Progress Power and the Florida Division of Commerce.
Whereas the county embarks on a nationwide seek for a brand new financial growth chief, Meidel, 61, plans to spend his free time along with his 9 grandkids, together with shifting from St. Petersburg to Venice to be nearer to household. Meidel not too long ago spoke with the Enterprise Observer on subjects starting from his crew’s accomplishments to the way forward for financial growth.
What deal are you most happy with, and the way do you suppose it impacted Pinellas?
One in all them is just not actually a deal, however it’s a take care of the residents and residents of the neighborhood. Getting that language in Penny for Pinellas 4 was crucial to our future. (In 2020, for the primary time, Pinellas’ one-cent gross sales tax allotted cash for financial growth and inexpensive housing, about $165 million over the following 10 years.) The county administration and attorneys have been just a little nervous. We’ve had that language for 30 years. To vary that language within the poll took some negotiating — we didn’t get all the things we needed. However we received sufficient to have the device.
One other large one we labored on for 15 years was protecting Jabil right here as a result of they have been wanting throughout in every single place. Tampa was courting them, they usually’ve received large amenities in California. They may’ve gone anyplace. All people would’ve paid large cash to convey them out of the county — they’re a Fortune 500 headquarters with a variety of workers. We received them to decide to redeveloping their facility. And seeing that occur, their innovation middle is finished, they usually’re about able to open up their new constructing. That’s an enormous success.
‘Florida is the worst within the nation for each type of litigation. It’s simply arduous to be a enterprise right here.’ Mike Meidel
What was one deal you want had gone in a different way or received away?
There have been a few lengthy photographs that we labored on. While you’re engaged on them so intensely, you suppose, “Oh, we’d have a shot at this.” Realistically, we have been up in opposition to some large excessive hurdles. Like HQ2 for Amazon, we put a variety of work into it and got here up with a very good proposal.
General, although, the largest disappointments have been after we didn’t have the house. On Bristol Myers Squibb, we labored with Tampa on that and we helped them promote the Tampa Bay space. The corporate stated: “OK, we like it. We’re coming right here.” However we simply didn’t have the continual house already accessible to maneuver into. That’s what fueled us to go for this Penny for Pinellas house. Each time we work with these large medical tasks, large monetary providers tasks, we simply at all times miss out as a result of we didn’t have the house. That failure grew to become the drive to verify we right that drawback so now we have a shot at it sooner or later.
What would you prefer to see Florida do in a different way in financial growth?
[Bring back] the Certified Goal Trade Tax Refund program — we’ve received to remain within the sport. (The Legislature let this system expire in June 2020.)
The other thing the Florida Chamber of Commerce has been trying to do for years is tort reform. Florida is the worst in the country for every form of litigation. It’s just hard to be a business here. That needs to be addressed. Fortunately, that’s not something businesses see until they get here. It makes it hard for businesses to grow at the level they really could grow.
How do you respond to critics who believe job-based incentives are handouts that pick winners and losers?
The way economic development is done around the world requires something to be brought to the table because you are competing with every other place in the world for the quality jobs that everybody in the world wants. Economic development is about creating a greater volume of money. Manufacturing is one of the best multipliers of that money, and that money is coming in and paying people who have disposable income, so they spread that money around the local economy. That’s when other places are buying jobs by giving away free land or hundreds of millions of dollars of cash incentives. We have to at least bring something to the table, so that we stay on the short list.
Unfortunately, it’s a competitive world, and we’ve got to at least be in the game. We’ve got a lot going for us in Florida. We don’t have to buy jobs. You can’t make a bad deal good. You have to make sure they come here rather than going somewhere else. With reasonable regulations and a good workforce pipeline, you do all of that to make sure they stay in the area.
How have you and your team dealt with the pandemic?
It’s so different from what we have been doing traditionally. The team and the county really stepped up. We had 60 people working from various departments to help us to do the CARES grant program. We ended up with $55 million going out to small businesses around the county. What’s different is we don’t typically work with retail or restaurants or hotels, so it was starting from scratch for us and building new relationships. It was a challenge, but it really had an impact.