CONVERSATION: Anne Drake McMullen St Pete Chamber Chair

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By Cindy Cockburn

The last time I had lunch with Anne Drake McMullen,  it took weeks to get on her calendar. We were sitting at an outdoor café on Beach Drive, overlooking the Bay on a sunny day and my friend, the Chief Development Officer for Doyle Wealth Management, suddenly started laughing. “My calendar will be even more packed in 2018,” she reminded me. 

During the St. Petersburg Area Chamber’s Annual Meeting on February 7 at the Mahaffey Theater, the gavel will be passed to Anne Drake McMullen. She will become the Chamber’s 4th woman chair in its 119-year history.  Welcome to the Year of the Woman! She points out that in 2018, St. Pete will seat women in  leadership roles at the Downtown Partnership, the St. Pete City Council, and the Pinellas County School Board. She says with a grin: “This is not your grandfather’s Chamber.”

Drake McMullen is well-suited for her Chamber role –  she has over 27 years of business development experience. She is happily married to Neil McMullen who is among the founding families of Pinellas County.

As the business community celebrates the successes of 2017, the Chamber is planning for a robust agenda in 2018. Drake McMullen looks forward to advancing the Chamber’s efforts on the Grow Smarter Strategy, a public/private partnership with the City, to enhance and support the city’s “smart” economic growth plan.

GETTING PERSONAL

Where were you raised?

I come from the Boston and Cape Cod vicinity; began my career in Washington, DC, and spent 20 years working and raising my family in Columbus, Ohio, before moving to the St. Petersburg area in 2007.

How will you juggle the full time job and new role?

Given the many roles I have played with the Chamber since 2010 as Chair of Public Policy Committee, Treasurer of the PAC,  Vice Chair of Membership for the Chamber Board, and member of the Board’s Finance Committee and Executive Committee, hopefully the demand on my time will not be much more than I have already committed.

Tell us about the company where you work?

Jillian and Bob Doyle have been tremendously supportive of the strategic plan I created and executed for the firm.  We have witnessed remarkable growth since the founding of the business in 2005.

What are you feeling, going forward and helping to lead this City that you love?

Love is the right word to describe St. Pete.  Whether you live, work or study here, you feel personally attached and responsible for the success of the city.  It is like no other place I have lived before.  The city has a living, breathing, vibe that needs to be nurtured by every person who is part of this community.  It is a passion every business person in the chamber exudes. 

Most importantly, the welcoming warmth of St. Pete is deeper and more profound than almost any other city in the world.  Newcomers are welcomed like family and new business people are embraced in the community and immediately surrounded by leaders who have a stake in the success of each new business that moves or starts in St. Pete.

What are some of your first initiatives?

I am proud that the Chamber has selected a small business leader to take a visionary view of our future and  support my efforts in advancing a collaborative regional relationship with with my counterpart in the Tampa Chamber.  We are excited to work on regional transportation issues, infrastructure issues, increased diversity and minority owned businesses on both sides of the Bay.

ST. PETE AREA CHAMBER – 2017 IN REVIEW

During the annual Summit held in December, the Chamber highlighted its work in 2017. Accomplishments in various focus areas included:

  • District & Corridor Development – Highlight on the Innovation District, encompassing USF Marine Sciences, Poynter Institute, and our research hospitals which set the stage for “a collision of people and ideas” as concluded by author Peter Nagayama in a compelling video.   This district also celebrated the success of the 2020 Plan which has achieved the lowest rate of poverty in the history of St. Petersburg.
  • Culture & Community –  Overview on our art museums, cultural arts, and eclectic lifestyle which play a leading role in driving the economy.
  • Coordinated Education & Training – Advances in education and training from Pre-K to universities to the Iron Yard for jobs in our target areas were featured.
  • Entrepreneurial Growth –  This conversation emphasized the successes erupting from the support of tech start-ups and providing resources to entrepreneurs through the Greenhouse.
  • Awareness Building –  The Amazon HQ2 video demonstrated the exciting results of a collaborative marketing strategy to highlight St. Pete’s Cool vibe while embracing the strengths of our sister city in Tampa.
  • Targeted Job Creation –  There were abundant success stories in job growth in our target sectors of Marine & Live Sciences, Specialized Manufacturing, Financial Services, Data Analytics & Creative Arts & Design.

For more information on the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, go to stpete.com