Petersburg, would not discuss in detail SRI's other work for agencies such as Special Operations Command, but said he hopes this work eventually will amount to a $36.5-million Navy contract. U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-St. Petersburg, who has used his clout to funnel Defense Department dollars to the region, sees a bright future (Krueger).
Since 2007, SRI St. Petersburg has grown to almost 70 staff members as its R&D activities have expanded. In addition, the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command awarded SRI and its National Center for Maritime and Port Security a five-year, $36.5 million contract to develop a maritime domain awareness system to improve port security in the United States. Other SRI R&D projects have included development and local testing of an innovative, energy-producing buoy device; mapping the floor of Tampa Bay in conjunction with a maritime homeland security experiment conducted by the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and other federal and local agencies, and in developing new chemical sensing systems for marine research. In addition, SRI St. Petersburg staff members are working on software engineering with far-reaching results and promotion of the area. SRI International staff members in other SRI locations are now conducting education research and economic development consulting for Florida (SIR, 2008, p. 1).
The City of St. Petersburg continued to enlarge its policy initiative stake and responsibility to the R&D industry which it had initiated in 2006, joining the county, the state and local university to form a "programme." On March 27, 2008, SRI's National Center for Maritime and Port Security was featured in Port Technology International, which announced that the National Center for Maritime and Port Security is part of SRI International's marine technology programme. The "programme" was the name for the partnership between SRI and the State of Florida, the City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and the University of South Florida. For SRI, the Tampa Bay was ideal for the Port Security project with its inherent geographic diversity, which includes channels, split bays, a large estuary and seven widely distributed ports. The warm climate also allowed for testing and evaluations year-round (Supnick).
In October of 2008, groundbreaking for the new facility finally began. The City sent out a press release declaring "Mayor Rick Baker and SRI International executives, joined by other government and business leaders, broke ground today on a new research and development (R&D) facility... called SRI St. Petersburg, [which] will provide a home for 100 SRI researchers and staff conducting cutting-edge R&D in areas such as marine science and technology, port security, energy and the environment."
SRI President and CEO Curt Carlson said, "Today's groundbreaking is a milestone in realizing the collective vision of SRI, the University of South Florida, the City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and the State of Florida" (SRI, 2008, 1).
St. Petersburg was extremely pleased when SRI International announced its intentions to come to St. Petersburg in 2006," said Mayor Rick Baker.."... We thank our partners in this new endeavor, and look forward to turning over this new facility to SRI so that it may continue, and expand, their worthwhile new advances" (SRI, 2008, p. 1).
The Marine Technology Program is also part of the National Center for Maritime and Port Security (NCMPS) which brings national experts together to work on preventing, recovering from and responding to terrorist events on the coasts of the U.S. (SRI, 2008, p. 1). Six of the subcontractors of NCMPS have facilities in Florida, including the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, along with which SRI St. Petersburg was formed. (SRI News Release). The introduction of SRI to the Tampa Bay area through the public initiative of St. Petersburg has certainly heightened St. Petersburg's reputation as a center for security R&D.
As part of its original policy initiative, the city of St. Petersburg is obligated to pay up to $300 million, is part of a partnership with SRI in attracting new projects and related industries to the area and hopes to gain in numbers of jobs afforded locals, in income generated from government contracts and industries related to homeland security located with and around SRI. The city has built and owns the building which will house the industry and is obligated to maintain it, and share in its ongoing upkeep with the County of Pinellas and the State of Florida. SRI-St. Petersburg plans to grow to 100 jobs over the next five years and the public initiative which St. Petersburg began in 2006, has grown and flourished, along with SRI, in bringing industry and jobs to the Tampa Bay area.
Hundley, Kris. (2007). Incentives seem like small change for SRI. St. Petersburg Times. 4 Jan 2007.
Krueger, Curtis. (2008). Tech firm SRI slowly blossoming, St. Petersburg Times. 27 July 2008.
Pinellas County, (2006). Governor Bush Announces SRI International Selects St. Petersburg. 01 Dec 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2008 at http://www.pced.org/newsroom/news_view_print.asp?int_newsroomID=4324
Silva, Cristina. (2008). SRI tech research facility brings jobs, Tampa Bay Times, 29 Oct 2008.
SRI News Release (2007). SRI International Awarded NAVAIR Contract to lead development and deployment of Maritime Domain Awareness System in Tampa Bay: SRI's National Center for Maritime and Port Security launches its first major project to improve port security in the United States. St. Petersburg, Fla., 26 Oct 2007.
SRI. (2007). SRI-St. Petersburg Begins Operation of its New Marine Technology Unit Menlo Park, Calif. 2 Jan 2007.
SRI. (2008). City breaks ground on SRI International's St. Petersburg facility. News Release. St. Petersburg, Fla. 30 Oct 2008. http://www.stpete.org/news/10_30_08_city.asp.
St. Petersburg loses taxpayer money on risky port gamble. (2007) Cut Taxes Now. 3 Jan 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2008 at http://cuttaxesnow.com/id73.html.