SATOP has formed Alliances with Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) to help market the program to small businesses.
Pinellas County has quickly become known as “Silicon Bay.” While many people might assume that the name “Silicon Bay” refers to the beautiful white sandy beaches found throughout the area, the name actually refers to the immense level of technology and industry found within the county. Pinellas is home to more than 33,000 businesses, has an amazing average of 3.8 high-tech companies per square mile, and is ranked second among counties within Florida for the highest number of manufacturing jobs.
The Pinellas County Economic Development Commission (PCED) serves as the primary catalyst for economic development in the area. The organization was founded in 1997 and has partnered with the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program for over four years. Bill Farragut, Business Development Manager for PCED, has served as the local SATOP representative for the organization and feels that SATOP has played an important role in economic development within Pinellas County. “I find it to be a tremendous resource offering for small to medium sized companies in Pinellas County. It gives us the chance to roll up our sleeves and help businesses with the actual technical side of their business,” stated Farragut.
To reach the largest number of small businesses possible, the PCED relies upon
a network of organizations to help market SATOP locally. ‘Face to face’ meetings with county companies are conduced through Business Assistance Partnership (BAP) representatives. The BAP project is a partnership among the county, city, and chambers of 10 municipalities in Pinellas, designed to provide assistance to existing businesses through introduction of local, state, and national resources that could improve a company''s operations and productivity. The PCED has trained each BAP representative with regards to how they should introduce, explain, and process requests relating to SATOP.
The PCED also uses a variety of marketing methods to promote SATOP to local business owners. The organization produces “Good Business Pinellas,” a weekly radio show, and Farragut provides ''live'' radio segments within the show which feature quarterly updates regarding SATOP. Information relating to SATOP is also published on the organization’s website found at www.siliconbay.org and in their weekly newsletter entitled ''Tips, Trends & Technology''. In June, Bay News 9 Television produced a story on Buddha Belly Glass, one of Pinellas County’s most prominent SATOP Success Stories.
“We believe it is extremely important to make sure that our local business owners understand what SATOP is and how it can help them. We’ve witnessed first-hand how SATOP has helped some of our local businesses and that’s why we’re committed to promoting SATOP. The best part is that it is a simple program to run, a simple program for business owners to use, and a simple way to provide a direct and immediate impact to a company’s bottom line,” declared Farragut.