CareerSource Florida contemplates again merging Pinellas, Hillsborough workforce boards

CareerSource Pinellas officials are hoping to follow the plan.

This post was updated on Feb. 24.

CareerSource Florida, at its Feb. 23 meeting in Tallahassee, will consider consolidating Tampa Bay area workforce training boards, including CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, according to the board’s agenda.

The proposed consolidation is part of an overall effort under a new law that would reduce the number of CareerSource boards statewide from the current 24.

CareerSource Pinellas Interim CEO Steven Meier informed staff of the proposed changes in an email Friday, describing the news as “the first indication of CareerSource Florida’s next steps,” and urged CareerSource team members that if there are questions on the matter, “whether it’s a rumor you have heard or questionable reporting on the subject” to reach out to a supervisor or someone on the leadership team.

“We will do our best to keep communication open, so everyone can be informed with the facts and provide excellent customer service. I am confident that we have a strong and effective team.”

In the email, obtained by Florida Politics, Meier writes that “as part of the proposed realignment, the CareerSource Florida professional team will recommend consolidating CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay.”

Indeed, backup documents in the CareerSource agenda indicate pushback from individual CareerSource boards, though none are indicated specifically.

“Stakeholders reported an overall apprehension and opposition to any potential alignment or consolidation of local workforce development areas,” an analysis reads, adding notation about concerns among rural areas that they would be “left behind” and other agencies worrying consolidation would result in fewer one-stop centers in each county, which are used to help jobseekers identify opportunities.

Sources with knowledge of CareerSource Pinellas’ thinking on the issue further contend consolidation with CareerSource Tampa Bay, which operates in neighboring Hillsborough County, would erode focus on Pinellas County jobseekers; risk equitable funding in favor of larger Hillsborough; lack specificity for Pinellas County’s unique workforce (including its large manufacturing base); fail to adequately accommodate Pinellas County’s unique urban environment as the only county in the state without a rural area; and increase difficulty managing two large work centers in the third (Tampa) and fifth (St. Petersburg) largest cities in the state.

Yet of the three consolidation scenarios presented in the Feb. 23 CareerSource Florida agenda, two would consolidate the Pinellas and Tampa Bay agencies, though the agenda makes clear it would not force one agency to assume another.

“This report is not suggesting that any local workforce development boards take over another in any of these actions,” the agenda documents read. “Rather, impacted areas will require the dissolving of existing local workforce boards and the creation of a new one to govern the new area.”

The REACH Act — the Reimagining Education and Career Help Act — was signed into law in 2021. Its goal was to create a more efficient pipeline from the classroom to the workplace by streamlining state career resources.

The law calls for “aligning Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards,” according to CareerSource Florida, including a “charge for reducing the number of local boards.”

CareerSource Pinellas sources, however, point to problems it previously faced when the two CareerSource arms were united. The boards shared a CEO, Ed Peachey, who was fired after extensive reports of inflated job placement numbers that led to big bonuses for Peachey and his employees. The controversy, which unfolded in the summer of 2018, led to the centers on each side of the bay splitting on Sept. 1, 2018.

The issues are still plaguing both CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, with the U.S. Department of Labor demanding the centers pay back $4.3 million misspent under Peachey’s direction, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“My hope is that you first heard this news from me, and I am sorry if that is not the case,” Meier wrote in his staff email. “The timing was difficult with the publication of the meeting packet last night.

Also under the REACH Act, boards are evaluated quarterly on their performance, with grade-like scores on a 0-100% scale, with 100% being the highest mark possible.

In these interim grades, CareerSource Pinellas, of the 24 boards throughout the state, was third last, ahead only of CareerSource centers for Okaloosa/Walton and North Central Florida. It scored 83.19%. CareerSource Tampa Bay, meanwhile, scored 94.07%, which put it at No. 4 in the state behind only centers in Chipola, North Florida and Central Florida.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704