Clay County Business News

Find out the latest announcements and happenings around Clay County.

Clay Commission Discussing Rebranding County Image

Clay Commission Discussing Rebranding County Image

Between 2015 and 2016, Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation (Clay EDC) led the effort to create a 5-Year Strategic Plan for Clay County, Florida to maximize the ROI of the new First Coast Expressway and directly steer the anticipated growth.  This effort was a true community partnership between Clay EDC and the Clay County BCC, Clay County Development Authority, Clay County Utility Authority, Clay County Chamber of Commerce, and the support of private citizens, business leaders, and government officials.  

Funding for this effort came from the community partners above and through a grant award secured by Clay EDC through Enterprise Florida called the Defense Reinvestment Grant.  The 5-Year Strategic Plan was coordinated and created by Valerie Seidel and Craig Diamond of The Balmoral Group.  The full support of this effort, by all of these community partners working together in true collaboration, has been an extraordinary display of just one of the reasons why Clay County, Florida is an incredible community fueled by passionately civic minded citizens.  

The fourth strategy of the 5-Year Strategic Plan called for the implementation of 'placemaking' as a way to build on Clay County's distinct amenities and increase recognition of the countywide brand as an economic development driver.  In 2016, Clay EDC again submitted for and was awarded grant funding by the Defense Reinvestment Grant FY2016-2017, now managed through the Department of Economic Opportunity, to complete the county rebranding study and deliver a plan for the implementation of placemaking throughout Clay County.  

Clay EDC is incredibly proud of the support and unity of our community as we all pull together and work diligently to make and maintain Clay County, Florida as the best place for a business to relocate or expand.  As businesses relocate and expand in Clay, more residents will have the opportunity to live, work, and play in this vibrant and community focused region.  

Florida Times-Union - June 5, 2017 by Teresa Stepzinski - Read Full Article Here

Clay Commission to Discuss Rebranding County Image

 The Clay County Commission this month is expected to consider recommendations to showcase the county’s natural, historic and recreational resources as well as its communities to best attract tourism, new businesses and residents. 

County Manger Stephanie Kopelousos said among possible potential changes: updating the county seal and installing new signs identifying each of the municipalites and unincorporated communities, “so we look like a cohesive county.”

“Very different areas, but part of the same community,” she said of that facet of the branding effort. “I think our values make Clay County stand out. People want to live here because of the community atmosphere and I think that is what draws people here.”

Kopelousos also said the emphasis on the county’s quality of life could include highlighting its natural resources including the St. Johns River and Black Creek, and walking/biking trails as destinations for recreation. The commission is likely to discuss the issue at its June 13 regular meeting, and possiblly follow-up at its June 27 one, she said. The goal, she said, is establish what Clay wants to be known for in the region and nationwide.

“Who we are, so there’s a tag line. … We have history. We have amazing waterways. So how do we capitalize on that?” said Kopelousos of the types of decision the commission will make with input from a consultant who’s put together some concepts for consideration after researching the matter. “What can we do to draw people in? How can we do that more and how can we do that better? Or what do we want to bring here that would bring people in? Or make it better for those who live here. All of the above,” she said.

The county is doing the branding project as part of a grant through Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation. It’s an effort to broaden people’s perception of Clay County — to showcase that it’s a viable and vibrant destination in Northeast Florida. The county hired Burdette Ketchum, a Jacksonville-based marketing agency, to develop branding concepts. The consultants recently met individually with county commissioners, said Kopelousos, adding they soon will go over the concepts with the county’s constitutional officers. The agency is expected to present its final recommendations for rebranding at the June 13 commission meeting, Kopelousos said.

Meanwhile, county, municipal and community leaders, as well as Northeast Florida business representatives, came together May 19 for a Tourism Summit at the Thrasher-Horne Conference Center in Orange Park. Kimberly Morgan, Clay County director of Tourism and Film Development, discussed the rebranding effort, and the potential role local businesses and communities can play in attracting tourism by highlighting the county and its resources.

“It’s all about businesses being successful and people enjoying Clay County,” Morgan told the crowd that packed the conference room.

“The branding is going to be huge in helping us develop an iconic image for who Clay County is and what we’re doing here,” she said.

Morgan cited the occupancy rate of hotels in the county, which is a measurement of the health of the county’s tourism economy. Clay has good numbers, she said. “We’ve got an inventory of 1,300 rooms. Occupancy is up four percent. We’re at 80 percent occupancy. So, on any given day, 80 percent of those rooms are occupied and most of the time you can’t find one,” Morgan said.

That means, she said, if Clay stays at that level consistently, developers will start looking at the county for hotel growth. The average daily rate of the rooms is up 6.6 percent, which she said is huge. That is another attraction for revenue development, Morgan said. Morgan said if the county does a good job presenting Clay as a good experience and destination, based on current trends, 70 percent of the visitors will return to a place if they had a good experience there. If Clay does a really good job delivering that experience, then it has a 70 percent chance of them coming back, she said.

And the 30 percent who don’t go back to a place generally are going someplace new, and Clay can be that new exciting destination that people are looking for, Morgan said. Morgan said Clay needs to market itself more to attract those visitors as the new thing people are looking for and it will take a united effort to make it work

Almost 3,000 people are employed by the hospitality and tourism industry in Clay County. That industry has about $161 million of economic impact, she said. Morgan said ongoing efforts to promote and market the county include developing a visitor profile to better target people coming to Clay for events or recreation. Content, she said is king. Clay must be able to tell people who and what it is, and why people should come there, Morgan said.

“If we don’t tell people what they can experience here, then guess what, they aren’t going to come. So, we need to be able to tell that story. …Because that is what tourism is. People are looking for experience and the only way we can deliver that message is by telling them the story of what they can experience in Clay County,” said Morgan, adding they are developing a digital marketing campaign promoting the county.


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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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