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Economic Development Plan Gets More Ironing Out

Economic Development Plan Gets More Ironing Out

Article by Jesse Hollett, Clay Today, 4.20.16

green cove springs – an alphabet soup of company acronyms comprised the audience last wednesday for the clay county economic development corporation’s meeting to allocate specific roles needed to execute its newly-unveiled five-year strategic plan.

by the end of the meeting, many of them had homework to do.

Read FUll Article here

THE EDC’S FIVE-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN SEEKS TO DRIVE HIGHER WAGE JOBS INTO CLAY COUNTY, A COUNTY IN WHICH 60 PERCENT OF ITS RESIDENTS DRIVE TO SURROUNDING COUNTIES EVERY MORNING FOR WORK. THE EDC IDENTIFIED FIVE TARGETED STRATEGIES WITH THE HELP OF A SURVEY COMMISSIONED BY THE BALMORAL GROUP OF WINTER PARK, FLA. TO NOT ONLY ALLEVIATE SOME OF THIS TRAFFIC, BUT BUILD A LARGER BASE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES HERE WITHIN CLAY COUNTY.

AMONG THE STRATEGIES IDENTIFIED WAS TO CONTINUE TO CAPITALIZE ON THE CONSTRUCTION ASSOCIATED WITH THE FIRST COAST EXPRESSWAY, THE TOLL ROAD CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION FROM INTERSTATE 10 TO INTERSTATE 95 RUNNING THROUGH CLAY COUNTY.

“[THE EXPRESSWAY] A $1.5 BILLION INVESTMENT,” SAID BILL GARRISON, PRESIDENT OF THE EDC. “YOU DO THAT PROPORTIONALLY, AND THAT PORTION THAT’S IN CLAY COUNTY IS ABOUT $900 MILLION. TO PUT THAT INTO PERSPECTIVE CLAY COUNTY WOULD HAVE TO SPEND THREE YEARS OF ITS BUDGET SOLELY ON IT. THERE’S NO WAY YOU COULD DO THAT, BUT HERE IT IS, HERE’S THE OPPORTUNITY, YOU BETTER DO SOMETHING GOOD WITH IT.”

ALSO PART OF THE DISCUSSION WAS THE CREATION OF A CO-WORK SPACE, WHICH WILL PROVIDE AN ENVIRONMENT FOR BUSINESS-MINDED MILLENNIALS COMPLETE WITH OFFICE CHAIRS, CONNECTION TO THE INTERNET AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, A COFFEE POT. THE EDC IS WORKING WITH CLAY HIGH GRADUATE PAIGE BLACK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF A CO-WORK SPACE ALREADY OPERATIONAL IN JACKSONVILLE APPROPRIATELY NAMED “COWORK JAX.”

WHAT EXCITED ATTENDEES WAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE A BRAND FOR CLAY COUNTY, A TOPIC DISCUSSED AT LENGTH.

“I COULD SEE US IN THE FUTURE HAVING SOMETHING THAT SAYS ‘WELCOME TO GREEN COVE SPRINGS’ THEN CLAY COUNTY BEHIND THAT,” SAID VAN ROYAL, MAYOR OF GREEN COVE SPRINGS, AND EDC BOARD MEMBER. “WE’RE ALL FROM CLAY COUNTY WE’RE ALL A PART OF IT. KIND OF LIKE THE STORY OF WHOVILLE, WHERE WE ALL SHOUT AT THE SAME TIME WITH THE SAME VOICE. THERE’S A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF IDENTITY WE NEED TO HAVE, AND I THINK THAT NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT FORTH EVEN MORE.”

THE WAY TO GO ABOUT THAT, GARRISON SAID, IS TO HIRE A CONSULTANT TO AID IN THE BRANDING PROCESS, WHICH COULD INCLUDE EVERYTHING FROM SIGNAGE TO CREATING LOCALIZED IDENTITIES FOR AREAS SUCH AS COLLEGE DRIVE. MANY ATTENDEES AGREED SAYING SUCH A PROGRAM WOULD BE AN APPROPRIATE FIRST STEP THAT WOULD SHOW THE COMMUNITY MORE IMMEDIATE RESULTS OF THEIR ENDEAVORS.

BEFORE THAT CAN HAPPEN HOWEVER, THE COUNTY NEEDS TO GATHER THE FUNDING NECESSARY TO HIRE SUCH A CONSULTANT. TO DO THAT THE COUNTY WILL PURSUE A STATE GRANT, SEND OUT A REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS, AND CHOOSE A CONSULTANT BASED ON THE PROPOSALS RECEIVED.

“THE THIRD STRATEGY IS THE TARGET SECTOR STRATEGY THAT IS GOING TO IDENTIFY AN INDIVIDUAL BUSINESS THAT YOU WANT TO RECRUIT HERE,” GARRISON SAID. “SO WE EXAMINE THE HEALTHCARE SUPPLY CHAIN, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR, SOMEONE WHO’S BUYING A LOT OF SOMETHING. MAYBE IT’S NOT SOMETHING THAT’S A BIG THING, MAYBE IT’S A NICHE COMPANY. IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING SPECIFIC, BEING DELIBERATE.”

WITH THIS SPECIFIC APPROACH, THE EDC PLANS ON GETTING IN CONTACT WITH DISTRIBUTORS AND ADVANCED MANUFACTURING COMPANIES THAT PRODUCE HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS, WHICH CAN BE ANYTHING FROM SCALPELS TO TISSUES, AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO OPEN A FACTORY IN CLAY COUNTY TO OFFER MORE HIGH WAGE JOB OPPORTUNITIES.

UNTIL THEN, RESIDENTS CAN EXPECT MORE PLANNING MEETINGS BETWEEN THE MANY ENTITIES INVOLVED IN THE STRATEGY. ALTHOUGH AN EXACT DATE HASN’T BEEN CHOSEN YET, THE EDC PLANS TO HOLD A STAKEHOLDER’S SUMMIT THIS SUMMER TO DISCUSS THE TOPICS FURTHER.

“WE’VE GOT TO FLESH OUT THE SKELETON WE’VE MADE, SO THE FIRST THING YOU’RE GOING TO SEE IS MORE PLANNING,” SAID DIANE HUTCHINGS, CHAIRMAN OF THE CLAY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS. “YOU CAN’T GET TO EXECUTION WITHOUT GETTING TRADITIONAL PLANNING, AND THAT HAS TO COME FROM OWNERSHIP.”


 

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

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