Clay County Business News

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Clay EDC Seeks to Strengthen the Strong Commercial Broker Relationships Criticial to Economic Development

Clay EDC Seeks to Strengthen the Strong Commercial Broker Relationships Criticial to Economic Development

"Location, Location, Location" - This is one of the most important factors in business relocation or expansion efforts and at the heart of this is the commercial brokers who represent these sought after locations.  Clay EDC relies heavily on brokers to stay informed on upcoming and available inventory as well as the unique offerings of these properties.  The Q2 2016 Clay EDC Luncheon provided a fantastic opportunity to engage commercial brokers deeper into EDC efforts which are critical as Clay begins to grow rapidly with the new First Coast Expressway (FCX) Outer Beltway.  

EDC Talks Office Space with Commercial Brokers

by Jesse Hollett, Posted 


ORANGE PARK – Clay County’s lead economic development agency is seeking to become the go-to entity for corporations seeking local commercial real estate.

Bill Garrison, president of the Clay County Economic Development Corp., addressed business leaders and commercial realty brokers from adjoining counties on June 16 to promote Clay County as the focal point for commercial realty contracts.

In the past, Clay County has experienced many ‘chicken and egg’ conundrums regarding the precarious balance of available large-sized office space and the amount of companies willing to relocate to Clay County.

Among the crowd were representatives from the Northeast Chapter of the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks, or NAIOP, the commercial real estate trade organization that serves Baker, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau and Duval counties.

“The importance of events and programs like this is to educate professionals, brokers, architects, engineers and planners on what a great future environment that Clay County has,” said Christian Harden, NAIOP president.

The event comes at an important time for Clay County, when the financial benefits and positive impacts of the First Coast Expressway are starting to take concrete shape.

The First Coast Expressway is a planned multi-lane limited access toll road that will eventually connect Interstate 95 at the northern edge of St. Johns County to Interstate 10 in Western Duval County. The toll road’s first phase is currently under in the Branan Field Road quadrant and will make its way southward through Middleburg and Lake Asbury, eventually crossing the St. Johns River near the current Shands Bridge.

Naturally, businesses tend to conglomerate near major transportation veins that facilitate proper traffic and higher visibility. The First Coast Expressway is expected to bring growth in the form of new housing developments, as well as commercial developments as it builds out.

Garrison intends for the EDC to work on the front end of that anticipated development as the liaison between Clay County and commercial brokers.

Harden said businesses tend to select locations that offer “existing infrastructure and availability of office properties at low rents close to major transportation hubs.” He pointed to locations such as St. Johns Town Center to illustrate his point.

The international consumer goods and farm products company Calavo Growers Inc. moved into the North Florida Industrial Center in Green Cove Springs last September. With the portion of the FCX connecting Blanding Boulevard to I-10 in Duval County scheduled for completion this summer, Garrison hopes to corall more high paying manufacturing jobs into Clay County along the new transportation hubs.

“Our big thing is being able to keep more of the 60,000 people a day that leave Clay County to let them stay for Clay County. But they can’t stay here if we don’t have jobs for them,” Garrison said. “FCX is creating a lot of opportunities, and we want the real estate brokers to know that there’s the EDC to help and support economic growth. If they need help, we’re here for them. I want those people to understand what we do and understand that we’re just a phone call away. That’s what the EDC is all about. We’re here to facilitate the state transactions.”

According to Harden, one way to spark the growth that the EDC expects in the months following the expressway’s completion is for a large company to move its headquarters into Clay County. This would allow for the company to offer more jobs to the county as well as encourage the growth of channel partners essentially creating an economic snowball of new companies, jobs and tax revenue.

Forming relationships with commercial real estate brokers to encourage that cooperative climate is just one of the many strategies outlined in the EDC’s Five-Year Strategic plan to increase the average wage in Clay County by maximizing the impact of the expressway and creating a climate that encourages businesses to uproot themselves.

According to the EDC’s website, Clay County employs 98,133 employees at an average wage of just over $33,000, while Duval County employees 450,001 at an average salary just over $47,000.

The EDC hopes to not only raise the average salary of Clay County through the five strategies outlined in the plan, but also help retain a portion of the 60 percent of Clay County residents that leave for surrounding counties for work.

Garrison hopes to continue forming partnerships with stakeholders and commercial brokers to open new pathways to economic growth in Clay County.

“It’s not an overnight process,” Harden said. “It takes slow growth, it takes building some momentum. I think what [The EDC] is doing is educating people on what a great climate [Clay County] is for development and how helpful they’ll be to try and relocate business here. But it’ll take time, it’ll take time.”

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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.

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

  • Phone: 904.375.9394

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