|PCED Staff Bios|
Mike Meidel, CEcD
Mike Meidel took the helm as Director of Pinellas County Economic Development in August 2004, continuing his distinguished career in the region, and bringing with him his experience as an economic development professional and a community leader.
As Chair of the Florida Economic Development Council’s Executive Committee, Mike continues his commitment to outreach, education and community service as a leader in economic development.
Mike has been involved in economic development efforts in Florida since 1982. He joined the Florida Power (now Duke Energy) Economic Development Department in 1987 and became the Area Manager for North Pinellas County in 1996. He served in that capacity for three years, and was selected as President and CEO of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce in 1999. Mike is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD). He has built his career around the diverse but interconnected aspects of economic development, and regards bringing quality jobs to area residents as extremely rewarding work.
With Pinellas County Economic Development, Mike continues to focus on helping Pinellas companies grow and expand employment, encouraging entrepreneurship, and recruiting new businesses to the community.
Business Development Division
Suzanne Christman, CEcD
Suzanne Christman started with Pinellas County Economic Development in December of 2000 and was appointed Senior Manager of Business Development in June of 2003. She manages the department's business expansion, recruitment, retention, Brownfields redevelopment, and international trade initiatives.
Suzanne is a graduate of the University of Phoenix and has received the distinction of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). She has served various professional, civic, and community organizations including the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and the Florida Medical Manufacturer's Association.
Business Development Manager
Advanced Manufacturing, Aviation & Aerospace, Information Technology, Optics & Photonics
Prior to joining the Economic Development staff, Scott served as a Marketing Director with a local ophthalmology practice. Scott has been a non-profit Executive Director and Fundraising Executive for sixteen years. Following his entrepreneurial instincts, he also started his own online retail business in the fall of 2005.
Scott has completed two Chamber Leadership Programs, Toastmasters International’s CTM certification and numerous business and non-profit leadership training programs. He graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education.
Andrea L. Falvey, CEcD
Andrea Falvey joined Pinellas County Economic Development in February 2011, as a Business Development Manager specializing in the industry sectors of Life Sciences, Medical Technologies and Business and Financial Services. Andrea will focus on the expansion, training and retention of local employers and their workforce.
Andrea’s past experience includes her role as Economic Development Analyst with the City of St. Petersburg’s Planning and Economic Development department. There, she specialized in the city’s Brownfields redevelopment program, marine science cluster and served as the program manager for its Bank on St. Petersburg program. Prior to her work with St. Petersburg, Andrea spent five years with an industrial and commercial property development firm in Tampa.
Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of South Florida (USF), and an MBA with course concentrations in marketing, finance and management, also from USF. She received the distinction of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
Brent Barkway, CGBP
Brent Barkway joined the staff of Pinellas County Economic Development in August 2014, as a Business Development Manager specializing in Export Development, Foreign Trade Zone management, business expansion and relocation projects. He focuses on helping local companies discover new global markets for their products and services.
Brent honed his economic development skills in Lee County, where he managed the relocation of Hertz Corporate Headquarters, which resulted in the creation of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact in Southwest Florida. Prior to his move to Florida, Brent worked for the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services to spearhead programs designed to initiate job development for citizens with disabilities.
Dede Haggerty, MBA, EDFP
Dede Haggerty joined Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) in March of 2002. She has been a resident of Pinellas County 90% of her life, leaving only to obtain her Bachelor's Degree in International Management and work for a few years in Orlando as an Operations Manager overseeing six branches for AmSouth Bank.
Business Assistance Division / Small Business Development Center
Dr. Cynthia Johnson, EDFP
Dr. Cynthia Johnson started with Pinellas County Economic Development in 2000 and was appointed Senior Manager of Business Assistance in 2001. She manages the department’s entrepreneurial and small business assistance and development initiatives. As an economic development practitioner, trainer, mentor, and educator, she has supported hundreds of individuals with the creation, retention, and expansion of their businesses.
Cynthia’s career began with the Broward County School District in Miami as an instructor. She later transitioned into Educational Leadership with the School District of Pinellas County, developing curriculum, managing discipline, and building relationships with community leaders and local business partners. Her innovative leadership style lead to the management and development of the SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development in 2010. As the Center Director for the SBDC, she specializes in business and strategic planning, entrepreneurial development, finance and small business innovation research initiatives. She has more than 12 years of experience in economic development and over 20 years in training and development.
Cynthia is a graduate of Florida Memorial University, Miami, FL with a BS in Education and holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership & Organization from Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale.
Kurt Forster, CBC
Kurt found his interest in business consulting helping to manage the USF Center for Organizational Communication while completing his Master's Degree in Communication at the University of South Florida. It didn’t take long for one of his clients, The Bay Plaza Companies, to hire him away as their Director of Marketing. During that time he was recognized as a community leader; founding a downtown development organization called Common Ground, and leading a variety of local area chamber of commerce committees. Not satisfied to slow down, he put his business experience to the test, owning and operating two successful market research businesses. The entrepreneurial spirit stuck with Kurt even while working in large organizations where he was called upon to open new offices for the State of Wyoming's Business Council and St. Petersburg College’s Enrollment Management and their Business Development Center.
Today, he enjoys serving the community as a Certified Business Consultant at the Florida Small Business Development Center and Business Development Manager for Pinellas County Economic Development where he provides business counseling and training workshops in a variety of areas such as marketing plans, business plans, strategic plans, borrowing money, financial management, and whatever else business owners get into. Kurt is especially well known for an enthusiastic facilitator style which he developed in an interesting variety of teaching positions along the way. It may be no surprise to see him as an Adjunct College Instructor; but he has also performed as an Certified Alpine Ski Instructor, Certified Standup Paddleboard Coach, and a Sea World Animal Trainer.
Yolanda Goodloe Cowart, CBC
Yolanda Cowart works in the Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development, providing assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses. She has a total of 15 years of local municipal experience.
Before making the transition to Pinellas County Economic Development, Yolanda worked as a Human Relations Specialist for Lee County Government, where she served as the County Liaison to community and advocacy groups, including the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Council. In Broward County, Yolanda served as the Equal Opportunity Director for the City of Fort Lauderdale, where she managed the Business Enterprise Programs for capital improvement plans and construction projects through both the Federal Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Authority.
Wayne Brass, CBA
Wayne Brass is the Pinellas County Area Manager for the Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development. He has a wealth of experience in marketing, new technologies, new product and services. He has had significant success assisting entrepreneurs with Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants, patents, trademarks and copyrights. Through personal one-on-one consulting sessions and larger topical business seminars, Wayne helps each client find the knowledge, services and resources to increase their profits.Wayne was a previous owner of two small businesses providing consulting services to several large corporations.
Prior to taking this position, he was the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator at the University of South Florida (USF). Also, while at USF, he was the Executive Director of the Office for Technology Entrepreneurship and the Executive Director for the Office for Corporate Development. Prior to coming to USF, he spent over twenty five years involved in Sales, Marketing and New Business Ventures for major corporations.