After nearly two decades under the previous leadership, the future of business in Florida’s most densely populated county rests in new hands.

Cynthia Johnson has been appointed the new economic development director for Pinellas County. She took on the role on September 7, replacing longtime director Mike Meidel, who had held the role since 2004. Meidel retired earlier this year.

“Cynthia’s vast experience, passion for public service and her success in building relationships in our community are proven assets to our economic development department,” Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said in a county announcement Tuesday. “I welcome his leadership as we continue to expand our economic development presence in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.”

Since its creation in 1997, Pinellas County Economic Development’s mission is to promote job creation and foster a favorable business environment. The department works with 13 local chambers of commerce to encourage the expansion of existing businesses and attract new businesses to the region.

Johnson joined the department in 2000 after serving as deputy principal of Pinellas County Schools. Most recently, Johnson headed the Office of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, where she worked to increase local supplier participation in the Small Business Program, which allows small businesses to sell goods and services to the government. of Pinellas County.

“I am both honored and honored to lead the dynamic and talented team of economic development professionals in Pinellas County,” Johnson said in Tuesday’s announcement. “Together, we will advance our global competitiveness by continuing to build a strong and diverse economy, a talented workforce, and resilient communities.”

Originally from St. Petersburg, Johnson holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University and a Diversity and Inclusion certification from Cornell University. She was selected to lead the department through a nationwide search process with more than 50 applicants, and her appointment marks both the first African-American and the first woman to serve as the county’s program director.

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