Economic yearbook 2010
Downtown, Cecil Field and Mayport hold the key to success.
Mayport could land 7,400 new jobs if the Navy decides to station a nuclear carrier there. [Photo: Eileen Escarda]
“We will succeed by continuing to play to our strengths and focusing on areas where we have unique assets and a proven track record.”
— Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton
The two regions of focus are downtown and Cecil Commerce Center. Former naval base Cecil Field is now a 17,000-acre commercial/industrial site. It’s seen its most promising movement recently, with Saft America building a $200-million lithium-ion battery plant that will bring 280 jobs.
Downtown, some high-profile development projects are seeking taxpayer bailouts, and city land along the St. Johns River is barren. The city council recently approved Peyton’s plan to rebuild Southbank Riverwalk, Friendship Fountain and Metropolitan Park. But leaders say the crucial need for success in the urban core is more downtown residents — some 10,000 of them.
People to Watch
» While the Jacksonville mayor’s race is still a year away, it’s already the political contest to watch in northeast Florida, with a crowded field of influential Republicans pulling in lots of early cash. Top money-raisers so far are tax collector Mike Hogan, city councilman Kevin Hyde and Audrey Moran, president of the Sulzbacher Center for the homeless. Others expected to enter the race include publisher and businessman Jim Bailey and city general counsel Rick Mullaney.
Businesses to Watch
» Jacksonville-based Lender Processing Services employs about 2,100 of its 8,400 workers locally and plans to add hundreds more this year to keep up with demand created by the mortgage-industry crisis. The company provides mortgage processing, settlement, default and data services to lenders.
» Jacksonville’s Rayonier is best known for its timberland and real estate holdings, but the company is also one of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialty cellulose fiber. It exports fibers to nearly 40 countries, where they’re used in a range of products from LCD screens to pharmaceuticals. The company’s manufacturing capacity helps keep its operations balanced — sales for timber and real estate toppled last year, while sales of performance fibers remained strong, with $839 million for the year; $41 million above 2008.
Jacksonville approved a plan to renovate Southbank Riverwalk
» Lender Processing Services plans to add 350 positions in Jacksonville this year, including accountants, business analysts, collections managers, Java programmers and auditors.
» Saft America plans to complete its new plant by the fall and will begin hiring in the next few months. The nearly 300 jobs will include engineering, manufacturing and design positions.
» Systems Service Enterprises, a defense-contractor software training and programming company, plans to hire 60 software engineers, graphic designers and other professionals by the end of next year, after it relocates from St. Louis.
» Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank AG continues a Jacksonville hiring spree this year. The global investment company opened here in 2008 and promised to hire 1,000 workers by the end of 2011. It has already hired 625 and is working to add 250, mostly in finance, including many first-time employees who’ve earned business degrees at area colleges.