20 September Clay has stake in region’s new economic plan September 20, 2018 By Laura Pavlus General economic development, strategic planning, JAXUSA, regional growth, Jacksonville MSA 0 Clay Today - September 19, 2018 - by Nick Blank - read full article here Officials at the JAXUSA Partnership Regional Economic Development Forum brought the public and private sector together to discuss how Duval County and its six surrounding counties can handle an incoming burst of economic growth. Clay County is a member of JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development arm of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. Avalanche Consulting, an Austin, Texas-based economic growth consulting firm, prepared the report outlining a five-year plan on how to handle the growth. The goals Avalanche Consulting’s Amy Holloway presented to about 100 people at the University of North Florida stuck to four key points – developing and attracting talent, preparing for economic growth, building a brand and collaborating between industries. “How does Northeast Florida make itself attractive to outside talent?” Holloway asked. “This is just the beginning. We need to energize and intensify these activities even more.” Holloway said Jacksonville should review applying smart infrastructure, such as Atlanta’s North Avenue Corridor and Chicago’s data portal. In addition to adding a diverse pool of jobs, she said Northeast Florida should focus on marketing Jacksonville and the area’s water resources, and nearby counties would benefit. Presenters mentioned Keystone Heights’ abundance of water. Keystone Heights City Manager Scott Kornegay said he was enthused about the ideas from the discussion. “The most exciting part is knowing that it’s a regional effort and Keystone Heights is positioned with a valuable and contributing member to the region,” Kornegay said. “Economic growth for the region can’t do anything but help us.” The report said the region added 100,000 jobs since 2012 and saw a 10 percent increase in bachelor’s degree and associate degree holders. However, Holloway cited two major challenges to growth in the region – housing and transportation. “There is a massive amount of commuting in this region,” Holloway said. “Every county except Duval has about 60 percent of its residents working in another county.” Elevate Northeast Florida is an organization working toward economic development in the region and a sponsor of the event. Elevate Northeast Florida co-Chair Darnell Smith referred to Duval’s surrounding counties as family members and said it wasn’t just about Jacksonville. “We all have to win and experience economic growth,” Smith said. Chereese Stewart, Clay County govenrment’s director of Economic and Development Services, said the meeting helped her identify key areas for the county to improve. “We know one of our biggest issues is workforce and education and we’ve got to find ways to do those better,” Stewart said. “We also know Clay County citizens have to go out of the county to work every day and we’ve got to try to fix that. Hopefully this is a good working group to do that.” State Rep. Bobby Payne(R-Palatka), whose district includes the southern half of Clay County, as well as Putnam and Bradford counties, said his main takeaway from the summit led him to more questions, such as closing the skills gap and improving infrastructure in rural areas. “We’ve heard a lot of great discussion about innovation, but we’re still working on getting broadband in some of the areas in rural districts,” Payne said. “For me, it was a learning process.” The report recommended members form a committee to discuss the initiatives, meet quarterly and provide an annual progress report. Related Clay Updates 2040 Comprehensive Plan Clay County planners have been busy collecting data across the county to redesign the Comprehensive Plan to ensure economic growth is precise and sustainable. New 5-Year Economic Development Plan Unveiled A new five-year strategic plan charting Clay County’s economic development future recommends county officials maximize the First Coast Expressway construction, create an entrepreneurial ecosystem for area millennials and to brand Clay County with recognizable signage on its borders. Economic Development Plan Gets More Ironing Out Armed with a new strategic plan for economic development completed, Bill Garrison, president of the Clay County Economic Development Corp., recently met with county official to divvy up tasks involved with bringing the plan to fruition. Clay Boards Meet Jointly on Comprehensive Plan Update Members of the Clay County Board of County Commissioners and Clay County Planning Commission sit in a joint workshop Tuesday where they heard an update on the county's 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The county’s comprehensive plan is reevaluated every seven years to make any necessary changes as required by state law. The evaluation also gives staff a chance to see what worked and what didn’t work, to allow extended deadlines for some projects, and to discuss things that might need fixing. The updated plan is only a draft at this point, but will soon move into its final stages as the October 1 deadline for submittal to the state looms. Clay Holds First Stakeholder Summit to Maximize the ROI of FCX Clay public officials, large land owners, and business leaders are working together to maximize ROI of the FCX for the county through collaboration and consistent focus. JJ Harris to Lead Clay Economic Development Effort A national talent search has ended with the Clay County Economic Development Corp. hiring a new executive director and president. The agency’s board of directors announced March 27 it has hired J.J. Harris as its new president and executive director. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.