ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Two years ago today, crews were battling a blaze on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. That fire sparked months of oil spewing into the Gulf, burning an economy here in St. Petersburg.
Now, local businesses are helping the city fight back.
When oil spread across the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the perception was it was washing onto the beaches of west Florida.
That perception affected St. Petersburg.
"People got worried about the product, people stopped coming, people cancelled, people just didn't know," says Chris Steinocher, CEO and president of the St. Petersburg Chamber.
Businesses shut down, leaving the streets a little quieter and those depending on tourism without jobs. "You took a major industry in our state and really, basically crippled it for quite a while," says Steinocher.
Thanks to some marketing and promotions, Steinocher says two years later the bustle of Downtown is starting to come back. "You're seeing some folks with an entrepreneurial spirit who know this is a great product, who are willing to put in their own money and creating what they know St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to be."
One of those businesses is located at the St. Pete Pier. The owner of Jonny Reno's says it was a good decision to open when he did. "We believed that Downtown would bounce back, we were going to take advantage of the market being a little slack and get in while there was opportunity to get in," says Jon LaBudde, owner of Jonny Reno's.
Without knowing what the future would hold, Jonny Reno's has been open for just about a year and has filled a void.
"Maybe in our own little way we've helped revitalize some of the pier. I want to remain humble, but because the ownership --me and my partners are all local guys --we were able to get some of the local faction to come back to the pier. We're in season now and we've seen a lot of good business out here."
So despite a few messy years, local businesses are helping clean the slate and bring a better reality back to St. Pete.
"Everybody's excited, exploring. It's almost like they've rediscovered St. Petersburg and rediscovered Florida," says Steinocher.
The St. Petersburg Chamber says the city had the best February on record.