rss

Clay County Business News

Find out the latest announcements and happenings around Clay County.

Clay looks to build economy on growing health care industry

Clay looks to build economy on growing health care industry

GREEN COVE SPRINGS | The growing health care industry in Clay County is key to its future economic development although manufacturing and distribution also have major roles to play, say officials helping county leaders chart a course for attracting and retaining sustainable businesses offering residents solid, well-paying jobs.

Bill Garrison, president of Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation, told the County Commission that a comprehensive survey authorized by a partnership of county government and economic development agencies is finished but needs to be customized to better capitalize on the county’s strengths.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE:  http://bit.ly/1MNyWdu

Garrison said they disagree with some of the potential economic development strategies recommended in the survey. He likened the situation to a home builder disagreeing with some aspects of an architect’s plan.

“We don’t think that we should chase manufacturing first. We think we should chase health care first. They had health care No. 3 and we wanted it No. 1,” Garrison said after the March 22 commission meeting.

Health care is the leading private-sector industry in Clay County, which has about 200,000 residents. The county is home to three major medical facilities: St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County in Middleburg, Baptist Clay Medical Campus on Fleming Island and Orange Park Medical Center. St. Vincent’s is in the midst of a $33.1 million expansion that will nearly double the size of its current medical center. Orange Park Medical Center also is regularly expanding its services.

In addition, Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital, based in Jacksonville, in November opened a state-of-the-art flagship facility in Orange Park, and assisted living facilities are opening throughout the county, he said.

“We’ve got 8,000 people working in health care here in Clay County. Why wouldn’t we leverage that ahead of 1,200 in manufacturing?” said Garrison, noting the consensus among Clay Florida officials and committee members involved with the survey is that health care should be the top priority. “Not that you don’t pay attention to manufacturing, but the reality is we’re a pretty small agency and you can only focus on so much.”

Garrison said Clay Florida is trying to leverage that to go find what it is all those health care companies and organizations are buying.

“For example, everybody buys cotton balls. Well, lets go find a cotton ball manufacturer and say ‘hey, do you know that in Clay County we’ve got all these hospitals and they’re buying cotton balls by the shipload. Maybe you could move a factory in here.’ That’s the strategy we’re going to pursue,” he said.

But they also want to hear from others.

Garrison said they’re inviting community leaders, business and industry representatives, government officials and anyone who want’s to participate to an April 13 roundtable meeting intended to iron out the county’s economic development priorities. The meeting will be 8:30 a.m. in the conference room of the county Tax Collector’s Office at the county Administration Building, 477 Houston St., Green Cove Springs, he said.

“The goal is, by the end of June, no later and I hope it’s sooner than that, we’re done. We’ll have an actionable plan that we’re going to move forward with,” Garrison said.

The Balmoral Group based in Winter Park conducted the survey that collected data detailed data from county business owners and operators, industry leaders, and gathered input from residents, local elected officials and community leaders.

The $80,560 survey was commissioned by Clay Florida and was a collaboration including the County Commission, Clay County Utility Authority, Clay County Development Authority and Clay County Chamber of Commerce. Those groups shared the cost with Clay Florida paying the lion’s share — $39,560.

The goal of the survey was to examine the county’s economic health as well as lay the groundwork for updating the current strategic plan created a decade ago by the commission and economic development corporation. That also included the recommended economic development strategies that Garrison said local officials believe should be tweaked.

“It doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan. It’s just not our plan, yet. … We’re just trying to customize it to fit what we know best here in Clay County,” Garrison said.

County Commissioner Wayne Bolla lauded the effort but said specifics are needed.

“What we need here as a board is three executable projects or ideas that we can actually agree on together and get moving,” Bolla said.

In another matter, the commission agreed to hire an executive recruitment firm to help find a replacement for longtime County Attorney Mark Scruby who is retiring Aug. 31 after serving 27 years as its chief legal counsel. It voted to negotiate a contract with Colin Baenziger & Associates based in Daytona Beach Shores to handle the search, which is expected to cost less than $25,000.

The firm previously helped the commission with its 2005 and 2010 county manager searches, and has previous experience recruiting attorneys throughout Florida. The Clay search is expected to be nationwide although the county attorney must be licensed to practice law in Florida. Clay’s charter mandates the attorney live in the county.

Scruby is paid $190,859 annually to represent the five-member commission — handling legal matters including county ordinances, land use/zoning issues, contracts and lawsuits. He also works with specialized outside legal counsel hired by the commission to handle specialized legal matters such as labor law or most recently, the adult entertainment ordinance.

Showing 0 Comment



Comments are closed.

Newsletter

Keep up on the latest news. Click below to subscribe to our newsletter.

Join Our Email List

About Our Mission

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.

Get in touch

  • Address: 1845 Town Center Blvd., Suite 110-B, Fleming Island, FL 32003

  • Phone: 904.375.9394

  • Email: Lpavlus@chooseclay.com