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Northeast - Yearbook

Jacksonville is looking for a new mayor. The region is looking for jobs, pinning high hopes on the port and the expanding financial services sector.

North Central Florida

DUVAL COUNTY GOALS

> Without exception, political and business leaders say jobs are the No. 1 priority in northeast Florida.

Ron Barton
Ron Barton [Photo: Ray Stanyard]

> Jacksonville leaders are hoping to work closely with new Gov. Rick Scott on economic development. Says Ron Barton, executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission: "Our ability to help the governor deliver on his promise to create jobs is going to link the local economic development function to the state economic development function. That's been our Achilles' heel over the last few years."

> Jacksonville will elect a new mayor this spring. Early in the campaign, there was no candidate who was a clear favorite among the city's business leaders. To be effective, whoever wins will have to unite the business community behind a clear vision for the city over the next four years.

Jobs
MSA DEC. 2010 DEC 2009 % Change Jobless Rate
Jacksonville 608,870 608,492 NC 11.0%
Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation

Homes Single-family, existing-home sales by Realtors
MSA Jan. 2011 Sales 1-Year Change Jan. 2011 Price 1-Year Change
Jacksonville 846 +7% $129,600 -6%
Source: Florida Realtors

Duval Population: 870,352
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.63%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
20.7% 6.1% 29.6% 32.4% 11.2%
Per Capita Income: $39,362

Paul Anderson
Northeast Florida's business community expects the port to be a huge economic engine over the next decade if the Jacksonville Port Authority can complete a $500-million plus project to deepen the St. Johns River ship channel to 50 feet to allow for the next generation of cargo ships. Currently, the project is scheduled for completion in 2017, but authority board Chairman David Kulik is trying to persuade the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finish it by 2016. In January, Hanjin Shipping Co. delayed opening its $300-million terminal because the channel is not deep enough to handle larger ships. Working with elected officials in Tallahassee and Washington is also a top goal of port CEO Paul Anderson (above). [Photo: Ryan Ketterman]

Jacksonville / duval County

batterStepping up to the Plate

> ROOKIE PLAYER: Flightstar Aircraft Services — Flightstar, which repairs aircraft and converts passenger jets into cargo planes, opened a $20-million, 130,000-sq.-ft. paint hangar and repair center in January at its Cecil Airport facility, creating 200 jobs. "We're seeing a lot of activity in the aviation industry," says Jerry Mallot, president of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce's Cornerstone Regional Development Partnership. "We've got a strong group of aviation-related companies that we're working with right now that would either be new or expansion. I think aviation is going to be an important business this year in terms of growth and expansion."

> EMERGING STAR: Saft America — French battery maker Saft plans to open its $200-million Jacksonville plant this spring at Cecil Airport, adding nearly 300 jobs with an average salary of $45,000. Saft manufactures lithium batteries for military vehicles, aviation, smart grid support, broadband backup power and renewable energy storage. "We're beginning to build some framework for Jacksonville to be an incredible opportunity for international companies," says Ron Barton, executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

> HEAVY HITTER: Bank of America — One of northeast Florida's largest employers, Bank of America plans to add 1,000 jobs over the next 18 months, says Mallot, positioning the financial services industry as a leader in the region's economic recovery. "I would say across the board, whether it's Deutsche Bank or Bank of America, the financial services industry is still going to be a growth sector for Jacksonville," says Barton. "A lot of our recovery is going to be financial companies." Mallot expects more announcements in the coming months. "We have an established company in financial services that's going to have a very large impact," he says.

> HEAVY HITTER: Convergys Corp. — Convergys plans to add 600 customer service and sales jobs to assist clients in the communications and landscaping industries. Convergys is involved in information and customer management.

playersImpact Players

> Paul Anderson, CEO, Jacksonville Port Authority — Jacksonville City Council President Jack Webb says Paul Anderson, who previously served on the Federal Maritime Commission, is "coming here with marching orders to reassess where we are with moving the port forward." Anderson says he wants to continue the port's annual 6% to 7% growth rate, increase community support and work with elected officials in Washington and Tallahassee to build the port into a strategic commerce center.

Michael P. Fleming
Michael P. Fleming
> Michael P. Fleming, managing director, Deutsche Bank; head, Global Business Services Center — Michael Fleming, a retired brigadier general with more than 30 years of military service, has held several leadership jobs, including CEO of the Florida Army National Guard and positions at American National Bank of Florida and General Electric Credit Corp. He who started his new job in September. Deutsche Bank has 850 employees in Jacksonville and plans to reach 1,000 by June.

> Steve Grossman, executive director/CEO, Jacksonville Aviation Authority — Steve Grossman, who spent 17 years as director of aviation for the port of Oakland, Calif., has been on the job for about a year and a half. Many see this as a pivotal year for him. "He's doing some very good things," says Mallot. "He's making plans for a whole new infrastructure on the east side of Cecil, which will open large areas for aviation development."

St. Augustine / St. John's County

St. John's Population: 197,563
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 4.97%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
17.4% 6.6% 22.6% 37.0% 16.4%
Per Capita Income: $46,554

Nick Sacia
Nick Sacia

Manufacturing is pushing the economic recovery in St. Johns County, says Nick Sacia, executive director of the St. Johns County Economic Development Council. Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, which makes aircraft electrical systems, and Hydro Aluminum North America are "doing very well," Sacia says. There's also a "couple of major employers we can't talk about right now" who are considering opening a facility and headquarters, he says.

Smaller businesses, Sacia says, also are showing increased interest, and discussions are ongoing with at least one potential new business. Infrastructure and improved relations with Tallahassee are top goals for the county, Sacia says.

NASSAU County

Nassau Population: 73,265
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.72%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.1%
6.0% 22.8% 36.1% 17.0%
Per Capita Income: $44,171

Steve Rieck
Steve Rieck

Nassau has lost 4,000 jobs during the recession. Steve Rieck, executive director of the Nassau Economic Development Board, is seeing smaller businesses and local manufacturers — including Diesel Powerhouse and Science First, a science supply company — adding jobs. Nassau should get a boost, Rieck says, now that Omni Hotels and Resorts has rescued Amelia Island Plantation from bankruptcy. "I think the new owners are going to make some significant investments in upgrading the facility that will provide some construction jobs and hopefully long-term jobs," Rieck says. The county has suspended impact fees for 2011, which has sparked some commercial construction. Crawford Diamond Industrial Park, which is owned by Rayonier, was rezoned. Officials hope it will become a major distribution center.

ORANGE PARK / CLAY County

Clay Population: 195,165
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.71%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
20.9% 7.4% 24.6% 35.2% 11.9%
Per Capita Income: $33,265

Danita Andrews
Danita Andrews

Healthcare and green manufacturing are giving Clay a boost, says Danita Andrews, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce. St. Vincent's Medical Center is building a $115-million hospital near the Duval County border, and Orange Park Medical Center is adding an open-heart surgery center, expanding its emergency room and adding two floors. Alternate Energy Technology, which manufactures solar panels, is building a facility near Green Cove Springs. Andrews says a couple of other alternative-energy companies are looking to build in Clay. Green Cove Springs has a new city manager, Danielle Judd, as does Orange Park, Cindy Hall. And Stephanie Kopelousos, outgoing secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, is taking over as county manager.

Putnam County

Putnam Population: 73,178
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): -0.19%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
19.6%
5.9% 22.3% 32.8% 19.5%
Per Capita Income: $27,679

Alex McCoy
Alex McCoy

Alex McCoy, vice president for economic development for the Chamber of Commerce, says companies "are kicking the tires, but they haven't bought the car yet," and while inquires are up, there's nothing on the immediate horizon. Most important, local leaders say, is financial assistance from Tallahassee.

Dana Jones
Dana Jones
Chamber President Dana Jones says rural counties like Putnam must have "some sort of access to funds so we can help build our infrastructure." Jones and McCoy believe the new administration in Tallahassee understands the plight of rural counties. They want to work with Gov. Rick Scott to "build incentive packages that are relevant to today's companies." In the meantime, Putnam wants to improve its workforce with training beyond high school and will continue downtown redevelopment along the riverfront.

Baker County

Baker Population: 27,107
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.44%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
21.8% 6.3% 28.3% 32.3% 11.2%
Per Capita Income: $26,210

Darryl Register
Darryl Register

In Baker, the goal is the same as it has been for the last two years: Continued development of two privately owned industrial parks, 750-acre Jackson-Shaw on the east side and 1,000-acre Woodstock on the west. The county and the Florida Department of Community Affairs have both approved Woodstock for 10 million square feet of industrial space, says Darryl Register, executive director of both the Economic Development Commission and the Chamber of Commerce. "There's a developer's agreement in place with the county for the first phase of that development," Register says. Jobs and new infrastructure remain top priorities. Register says he's wooing a company interested in building an $80-million-to-$100-million equipment facility.

Columbia County

Columbia Population: 72,402
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.61%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.6%
6.2% 26.8% 32.4% 16.1%
Per Capita Income: $25,745

Jim Poole
Jim Poole

Jim Poole, executive director of the Columbia County Industrial Development Authority, says Columbia hopes to see projects that stalled over the past couple of years start moving. First up, he says, is Columbia Technology, a recycling company that purchased 300 acres and is building its first phase, which should employ about 30 people this year. Poole says the environmental study for Columbia's 500-acre catalyst site, established last year as a Rural Enterprise Zone, is complete. Developers hope to finish the rail spur into the site soon. Poole expects to have the first occupants by the fall. Healthcare and retail also are doing well, and a Lake City downtown revitalization plan should gain momentum this year.