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Leaders Welcome State's Economic Development Chief

Leaders Welcome State's Economic Development Chief

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – With a focus on bringing more high-paying jobs to Clay County, economic development leaders, business leaders, elected officials and others recently hosted a county tour for the head of Enterprise Florida Inc.

The Orlando-based state-funded agency markets Florida to businesses outside the Sunshine State in hopes they will expand the state’s economy by relocating or expanding here. It does that by matching interested corporations with communities that meet needs and site selection preferences. Enterprise Florida President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson spent about three hours in Clay County on Feb. 19 to learn how to market the county elsewhere.

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Johnson’s visit comes three weeks after Enterprise Florida launched a new $10 million marketing campaign and accompany slogan, “The Future is Here.”

“Enterprise Florida has to trust that we know what we’re doing and that we have a community that will support the businesses they recommend us to,” Garrison said.

Green Cove Springs Mayor Van Royal – who serves on Garrison’s board of directors – and County Commission Chair Diane Hutchings accompanied Johnson on the tour to promote the county.

“I think there’s incredible potential in Clay County. Aesthetically, it’s very clean and impressive. I got a sense of the community’s pulse and what stuck out to me is that Clay County is a vibrant and growing community,” Johnson said.

Johnson stressed that Florida’s Space Coast is a leader in aeronautics and aviation. Johnson said because that region is nearby, Clay County has potential for benefitting much like the entire Great Lakes region has traditionally benefited from the auto industry in Detroit.

“When you look at the supply chain and what goes into the aviation industry, Clay County isn’t that far away, so it could be attractive to something related to that industry,” he said. “Also, banking and financial is huge and Jacksonville is attractive to that industry, so Clay County can benefit from that and Florida is now third in the nation for information technology. We see a lot of it in Orlando and South Florida, so there’s no reason it can’t happen here, as well.”

Because he’s focused on the competition with other states to attract new companies, Johnson understands Clay County must do its part because Florida will only thrive if its communities thrive.

“We at Enterprise Florida want to expand Florida’s existing businesses, but we also want new businesses coming to Florida to know what our communities have to offer. In Clay County, there is a great quality of life and that’s the number one selling point. This is an incredible community for families – there’s a high quality of life here,” he said.

Johnson has set a goal of meeting with each of Florida’s local county economic development chiefs in 2016.

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The Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation provides concierge service for companies who want to re-invest in expansion in the county or relocate their companies to the region.

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