April 23, 2018

Up Front - The Publisher's Column

Florida's fortunes

Andrew P. Corty | 6/21/2012
Andy Corty
Andy Corty, Publisher

I awoke in the predawn quiet, shoved on my rattiest shirt, shorts and shoes, then started ambling toward the nearby golf course for my weekly walk. A faint glow in the sky illuminated some early squirrels scampering around, doing whatever squirrels do. A nearby lot had just been cleared for construction, one more small indication of economic recovery.

The morning was crisp. As I turned the corner onto the 18th fairway, the sound of a church hymn floated my way. It was Easter Sunday, and the opening stanzas of a sunrise service came from the water’s edge on the other side of the golf course.

For the full hour of my walk, I was serenaded. The preacher spoke with authority though his exact words were lost to the wind. But the soprano came across so beautifully.

Along the water a bird rose up and started yakking at me like mad. Her wings flashed, and her voice was sharp. Then two babies floated tentatively into the water away from my intrusion, and I realized it was just a mother bird protecting her brood.

No one else was out except a groundskeeper raking the sand near the 16th green.

What a day, walking alone in the soft light of dawn, birds scattering here and there and Easter hymns rising in the air.

Just at 8 a.m. a church bell counted out the hour. I was walking back to the house when the Easter service came to an end with the words “hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.”

My morning stroll reminded me that we are indeed lucky to live in Florida. Most Florida Trend readers are Type A personalities — ambitious, driven, hardworking. We have interesting challenges, full lives, an abundance of riches and the opportunity to enjoy life.

Recently, I’ve been fortunate to enjoy three visits to Jacksonville — one time for meetings downtown, another when my wife, Betty, and I took a long weekend at Ponte Vedra Beach, and a third at a large conference hotel in Duval County.

Each time Jacksonville impressed me as one of those Florida places where you can balance fruitful work with a great lifestyle. To discover for yourself all the great benefits of Jacksonville, I direct your attention to our business profile starting on page 38.

While there’s certainly an “old guard” that makes up Jacksonville’s backbone, staff writer Lilly Rockwell also found interesting new personalities to profile. Shahid Khan, our cover subject, brings energy to the city, along with great ambitions for his Jaguars football team and the possibility of new jobs from his multiple companies. Then there’s Alvin Brown, the Democratic mayor who won an improbable race with the strong support of the business community and now is setting a clear direction for the city.

Whenever I visit, I feel a sense of cohesiveness and civic purpose. When EverBank consolidates downtown or when Bi-Lo locates its headquarters in Jacksonville or when local hospitals reap national recognition, the entire business community claims victory.

Major employers such as Florida Blue, CSX, Baptist Health and Bank of America and governmental groups such as the U.S. Navy, port authority and airport all participate in civic affairs and have a real interest in improving their community.

Fitness report: Something’s rotten in Denmark. Despite nine long walks, four hours of tennis and five workout sessions, I didn’t even lose another pound. I’m holding at 12 pounds year- to-date, with another eight to reach my goal. Obviously, I need to push back from the table. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try Scarsdale.

— Andy Corty

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