ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Few will dispute Bill Edwards' impact on St. Petersburg, from the revitalization of the Mahaffee Theater to the total renovation of Baywalk. That's why this week's announcement of major layoffs had some people on edge about the future of funds pledged to public private partnerships like the Shops at St. Pete.
"It's never good for the individuals who are losing their jobs," said St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman. "It's not good for the community, it's not good for the business. You hate to see that happen."
Kriseman said while the loss of close to 500 jobs at Edwards' Mortgage Investors Corp is of cause for concern, he's confident projects backed by Edwards will remain fully funded.
"I don't at this point in time have any concerns about his moving forward with The Shops or his other interests. I mean, he has a number of different business interests and they're all different types of businesses, so the impact on the economy is going to be different, but what we're seeing here is another business in the city of St. Petersburg that is scaling back," said Kriseman.
"I spoke to Mr. Edwards on Friday and we talked it through," said current St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster. "This isn't the end of Mortgage Investors. Yeah, there's some federal issues that need to be taken care of but this had nothing to do with his passion or devotion for the city of St. Petersburg."
Foster also remains confident about the future of Baywalk. "Of the entities that work very closely with the city, everything is intact and moving forward."
10 News spoke with Edwards over the telephone Monday. He said while Monday's announcement was one of the most difficult he's ever had to make, Mortgage Investors Corp is just one of his many companies and that he remains "financially capable" and dedicated to project like the Shops at St. Pete.