FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business


Northeast Florida Economic Indicators

Jacksonville's urban core gets a lift as EverBank moves downtown and a new mayor gets the city’s house in order. Infrastructure projects should lift other parts of the Northeast.

North Central Florida

Jacksonville/Duval County

Issues to Watch

Robert Clements
EverBank CEO Robert Clements is moving the Jacksonville company downtown. [Photo: Kelly LaDuke]
» While port development continues to be an important issue, downtown revitalization is taking center stage this year. Downtown redevelopment was a major campaign issue for new Mayor Alvin Brown, and he's already making good on his promises to reinvigorate the urban core. With some prodding from the mayor and business leaders and $2.75 million in incentives, EverBank committed to moving its headquarters — and 1,500 employees — from the south side to downtown. Jerry Mallot, president of JAXUSA Partnership and executive vice president of the JAX Chamber, calls the move a critical step toward downtown redevelopment. "We lost several tenants from the downtown area over the last few years, and this replaces all those and basically doubles it," Mallot says. "We are seeing significant interest in a lot of elements for downtown, and I really do see some change for where downtown is headed." The new Duval County Courthouse is scheduled to open in May, and the chamber announced a $2-million renovation of its own building to help spark downtown redevelopment. The courthouse move opens the old building and City Hall annex site, a prime riverfront location, for development, possibly for a new convention center.

What's Hot

» Aviation/aerospace: Brazil's Embraer has a strong presence and hopes to add 50 local jobs, generating an annual payroll of about $2.5 million, if it can secure the rebid of a $355-million defense contract to build Super Tucano military planes. In January, West Virginia-based KCI Aviation, which inspects, maintains and repairs business jets and turboprop planes, signed a deal for a new hangar at Cecil Airport.

» Financial services: Interest is coming from several companies, some with an existing presence and some that will be new to the market — including Wells Fargo and Web.com. Some are in the IT sector, which is also doing well right now.

What's Not

» Housing/construction/government: The residential construction market is still slow. Total inventory has fallen 30% over the past year, but there are still plenty of existing homes on the market. Economist Sean Snaith at the University of Central Florida says a rebound isn't likely to begin before 2014. With a big chunk of revenue coming from property taxes — in many cases more than one-third of total revenue — government budgets face another rough year.

People to Watch

» Shahid Khan: The new Jacksonville Jaguars owner has hired a new coach and has committed to keep the team in Jacksonville. Local economic developers may attempt to persuade Khan to relocate some manufacturing jobs from his Illinois-based company to the area.


New Jaguars owner Shahid Khan says he's committed to keeping the team in Jacksonville. [Photo: David Goldman/AP]

» Robert Clements: The EverBank CEO purchased the naming rights to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and moved the company downtown. The company also is planning to go public.

» Mayor Alvin Brown: Brown has seen his approval ratings soar since taking office. He has cut government jobs, including a number of mayoral appointees, and balanced the city's budget. Chamber Vice President Jerry Mallot says Brown has "brought a new sense of vision, optimism and excitement that is truly making a difference in the things we do."

Tom Van Berkel
Van Berkel
» Tom Van Berkel: The president and CEO of Main Street America Group moved his insurance company from New Hampshire 10 years ago and has become the new chairman of the JAX Chamber.

Businesses to Watch

» Medtronics: The medical manufacturer is building a $14-million facility for research/development of a new high-tech product to be used by ear, nose and throat doctors.

» Web.com Group: In January, the website developer announced a major expansion that included 200 new jobs at its Jacksonville headquarters.

» Firehouse Subs: The chain has more than 488 restaurants in 28 states and Puerto Rico, employing more than 7,000. It was ranked No. 1 in a Consumer Reports survey and No. 5 in the 2010 Zagat survey for service among large chains in the U.S.

» University of North Florida: The university continues to expand under President John Delaney, including recent additions to its biological sciences building and College of Education building.

Duval Population: 883,622
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.81%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
19.75% 6.25% 29.34% 33.15% 11.50%
Per Capita Income: $41,852

Jobs
MSA Dec. 2011 Dec. 2010 % Change Jobless Rate
Jacksonville 625,167 611,911 +2.2% 9.2%
Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation

Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales
MSA 2011 Sales 1-Year Change 2011 Price 1-Year Change
Jacksonville 13,807 +5% $131,200 -7%
Source: Florida Realtors; year-end sales, median price

Duval CountyConsumer Bankruptcies
2010 2011 Change
4,843 4,227 -12.7%
Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center

St. Augustine/St. Johns County

Scott S. Smith
EDC Vice President Norman Gregory says the region is getting more interest from international companies. [Photo: Scott S. Smith]
St. Johns County has 38 business prospects this year, including a medical manufacturer, which wants to build a distribution center, and a food processing company, says Norman Gregory, vice president of the St. Johns County Economic Development Council. The county is seeing more interest from international companies: A German firm that manufactures equipment that turns biofuel into electricity and sells it back to the utilities may open by the spring, and an Irish company that makes solar hot water heaters is looking for a site. One major goal is developing a larger tax base in the commercial and industrial sectors. The county's commercial property sector comprises only about 12% of the tax base.



St. Johns Population: 202,947
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 4.97%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.15% 7.14% 20.88% 37.01% 16.82%
Per Capita Income: $50,422

?

Orange Park/Clay County

Construction of the first segment of the First Coast Outer Beltway should provide a big jobs boost while opening areas for development, says Danita Andrews, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce. The county is moving forward with a business park development near Green Cove Springs. Healthcare and green manufacturing are growing along with IT and business services. Orange Park Medical Center is continuing its expansion, adding a cardiac unit and a Level 2 trauma center. Last October, the county finished its first target industry analysis, providing some long-term economic development strategies.

Clay Population: 201,986
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.91%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
20.69% 7.63% 23.69% 35.23% 12.76%
Per Capita Income: $35,483

?

Nassau County

Omni Hotels and Resorts at Amelia Island Plantation is spending $85 million, adding 155 rooms and expanding the conference center and retail area in an effort to lure more corporate and event travel business. The expansion is scheduled for completion next March, when Omni expects to add 160 jobs, says Steve Rieck, executive director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board. The Villages at Amelia, a retail complex in Yulee anchored by Publix, Kohl's and TJ Maxx, will bring another 450 jobs. Aerospace manufacturer ALM Technologies is relocating to Yulee from Brunswick, Ga., bringing 30 jobs averaging $41,267 a year. Nassau has suspended impact fees for 2012. Diamond Industrial Park, which is owned by Rayonier, is going through a major-site certification process and will be the second major site in northeast Florida behind Cecil Field. Nassau also hopes to start development of the 27,000-acre East Nassau Community Planning Area, a mixed-use project, including offices and retail.

Nassau Population: 76,563
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.70%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
17.59% 6.01% 21.89% 36.63% 17.88%
Per Capita Income: $46,591

Putnam County

Keuka Wind turbine
Keuka Wind turbine [Photo: Keuka Wind]
Infrastructure development will dominate in Putnam County this year. Alex McCoy, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce, says work to strengthen runways at Palatka Municipal Airport is nearly complete. By making the airport accessible to heavier aircraft, the improvements should help make the airport more attractive to maintenance and repair companies. Improvements to the Putnam County Business Park have been completed, and the county is working with Plum Creek on a 680-acre site for an industrial park. McCoy says St. Johns Shipbuilding has a number of new contracts, and Keuka Wind is building what it claims will be the world's largest wind turbine. Riverfront development is ongoing. Tito Smith, an attorney with Rogers Towers, takes over as chamber chairman.


Putnam Population: 74,520
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): -0.16%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.83% 6.03% 21.46% 34.34% 19.34%
Per Capita Income: $30,223

?

Baker County

Baker continues to promote its two privately owned industrial parks, 900-acre Jackson-Shaw on the east side and 1,000-acre Woodstock on the west, though no major announcements are expected this year. Darryl Register, executive director of both the Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce, says he's courting a prospect for one of the county-owned industrial parks that's a "cross between healthcare and manufacturing that's a very unique business, something we don't have in the region today." Manufacturing and distribution remain the most active sectors. A mining operation has reportedly committed to the county. There's also a tile manufacturing facility that closed over a year ago that plans to reopen once the housing market rebounds, potentially creating about 80 jobs. "We do have some folks looking compared to three years previous," Register says. "There's quite a bit of activity and interest, which is exciting."

Baker Population: 27,389
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.62%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
21.62% 6.46% 26.83% 33.72% 11.37%
Per Capita Income: $29,358

?

Columbia County

Dennille Decker
Decker
Work continues on developing the county's 500-acre "catalyst site." Executive director of the Columbia County Economic Development Department, Jesse Quillen, who came from Mobile, Ala., is working with the U.S. Forestry Service to gain rail access to the site. Sitel is expanding its call center operation, adding 200 jobs. Warehousing, distribution and logistics top the development wish list. Dennille Decker, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, says retail will get a spark with a Harveys supermarket replacing Food Lion. She says there's a possibility new Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants will open in Lake City. Decker says there'll be more emphasis on tourism, specifically nature tourism.

Columbia Population: 69,600
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.84%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.85% 5.82% 24.96% 33.97% 16.40%
Per Capita Income: $28,352