As Session starts next Tuesday and we gear up for an active one, I wanted to share with all of you some exciting news of my own. As I marked my 8th anniversary as FEDC’s CEO yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Bob Swindell and Lynn Pitts to let them know I will be stepping down after legislative session which ends May 1st. As many of you know my significant other Erik and I have been together for close to 7 years and because of his distinguished military career as a Colonel in the US Army, we have spent most of that time apart due to his numerous deployments overseas. While Erik will be retiring this summer, we have been discussing new beginnings for both of us. As we contemplate our next adventure, I also want to be able to spend much needed time with him.
Leading FEDC and meeting all of you along this journey has truly been an honor. Moving FEDC to the next level over these years has been my passion. Togeher we have strengthened our advocacy for sound economic development policy at the state level and have increased our education initiatives for the practitioners, for that I am grateful to have been a part of this magnificent journey. I am confident that the Board will make excellent decisions as to where FEDC heads next. As I take much needed time to contemplate what my next adventure will be, I will always continue to promote the FEDC mission in any way that I can. I’ve been blessed in my career and I look forward to seeing you along the way.
On a final note, I want to thank the FEDC Board for their constant commitment and hard work and know that they will continue to make FEDC an incredible association!
3802 Spectrum Blvd.
2015 FEDC Conference - Registration is OPEN!
Join economic developers from around Florida to discuss the most important issues in economic development today. Florida is well-positioned for a resurgence in job growth and prosperity. This conference will highlight the Pioneers, Leaders, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Catalysts that will drive Florida’s economic future. Learn and experience how Florida is Leading the Way.
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Members $210 | Non-Members $310
The online room reservation system will be available next week but you can make reservations NOW by call 1-888-828-8850 and mentioning that your reservation is for the FEDC Conference.
National Award of Excellence Given To Space Coast EDC
Expansion Solutions, a national site selection magazine, has named the EDC of Florida’s Space Coast a 2014 Top 5 Award of Excellence recipient in aerospace & defense/aviation recruiting and retention. The award recognizes economic development organizations that excel in the area of development, by successfully recruiting, retaining and/or assisting growing businesses. Winners are chosen because of the support system offered to businesses, as well as recent activity within their area. Some of the biggest local announcements the EDC made during last year in the aerospace & defense/aviation industries are also the ones that led to national recognition.
"While we were working to bring new opportunities to the workforce and companies that call the Space Coast home, we know others were taking notice,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “What we didn’t know was how far the message was spreading that the aerospace and defense/aviation cluster in Brevard was taking off. The nation is taking notice and it’s leading to even more opportunities.”
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Florida Tech Set To Open Women’s Business Center In Orlando
The award-winning Women’s Business Center at Florida Institute of Technology will launch an Orlando-area operation next month after receiving $750,000 in funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The CFWBC is expected to open in next month. It will be structured to drive economic development goals that are aligned with key emerging industry clusters in the Central Florida region.
This will be Florida Tech’s third such facility serving the region, with the others housed at the university’s Melbourne campus and CareerSource Brevard’s Rockledge facility. The WBC at Florida Tech in Melbourne has been lauded by the SBA in recent years for its work with entrepreneurs on Florida’s East Coast, including being named the 2014 SBA Advocate of the Year for Florida and an 2012 SBA Women’s Business Center of Excellence. Those accolades helped distinguish the Florida Tech WBC from others competing for the grant funding, as did 12 letters of support from partners across the Central Florida community. The SBA awarded funding to centers in just 11 states, and the Florida Tech operation was among a handful to receive the maximum funding of $150,000 per year for five years.
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Northwest Florida Economic Leaders Spread Local Message to Washington, DC
Trying to bring new jobs to Northwest Florida, and protect the ones that are already here, can’t always be done from home. Having returned from the Pacific Northeast Aerospace Alliance conference in Seattle earlier this month, representatives from Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, Bay and Escambia counties are preparing for one of the largest economic development trips of the year in April. Roughly 50 people from the five counties will be in Washington, D.C., April 14 and 15 to meet with leaders at the Pentagon and the local congressional leaders. “Although we might have some differences – somebody might have a Navy installation and another community may have an Air Force installation – there are still commonalities that we come together on,” said Kay Rasmussen, associate director of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council. “There’s a lot of synergy amongst the communities.”
Rasmussen said the goal of the trip is to carry the message that Northwest Florida is a strong military supporter and for the panhandle to come together with one voice. Local leadership also plans to discuss some infrastructure improvement projects and ways to improve veteran services, such as better helping people leaving the military to find employment. This year was the first time representatives from Northwest Florida attended the Pacific Northeast Aerospace Alliance conference. Florida’s Great Northwest was a signature sponsor of the conference, which gave representatives from Northwest Florida opportunities to speak in front of 500 aerospace suppliers.
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Volkswagen Selects JAXPORT as Southeastern U.S. Port
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other officials announced that Volkswagen Group of America has chosen JAXPORT as the location of its import facility and Southeastern distribution center. The Jacksonville location will create 100 jobs and a capital investment of $3 million in the region. JAXPORT was chosen over ports in Brunswick, Tampa and Cape Canaveral. Company officials cite experience and proximity as key decision factors.
Port officials have announced several recent expansions in automobile shipping. In December, American Honda Motor Co. decided to export Acura vehicles from Jacksonville to the Middle East. In June, NYK Line, a Japanese shipping company, began carrying vehicles between Jacksonville and Asia. Hoegh Autoliners, an auto shipping company, relocated from New York to Jacksonville in 2013.
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Optym Opens Corporate Headquarters In Gainesville, Florida
A global leader in creating planning and scheduling software solutions for the transportation and logistics industry, Optym opened its corporate headquarters in Gainesville, Florida. The expansion will create 100 new jobs and a capital investment of more than $4 million. This project was made possible by the close partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, CareerSource Florida and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Council for Economic Outreach.
Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida president and CEO Gray Swoope said, “Florida has become a true economic super-state, with one of the best workforces in the nation and an ideal tax climate for businesses. Today we are celebrating Otypm’s growth, their expansion helps to further strengthen Florida’s IT industry, and we thank them for their continued investment in Florida.”
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “Today’s grand opening of Optym’s headquarters is an exciting chapter in this Florida business’s success story. With new employees already on board and a total of 100 new jobs coming over the next five years, this expansion is further proof that Florida has the perfect climate for business.”
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Board of Governors Approves Request to Build New USF Medical School in Downtown Tampa
The Florida Board of Governors approved the request by the University of South Florida to build its new USF Health medical school and heart institute in downtown Tampa last week. The unanimous vote to fund the proposal – $17 million from the state this year as part of a $62-million multi-year request — is a key step in making the vision for a downtown Morsani College of Medicine-Heart Institute a reality. The project still requires the approval of the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott. If it gains that support, the facility would become an anchor for the plan by Tampa Bay Lightning owner and USF partner Jeff Vinik to create an economically thriving downtown waterfront environment where people could live, work and play.
In remarks to the Board before the vote, Dr. Lockwood emphasized that the proposed downtown facility would be built with a combination of state and private funding. “We are leveraging private support to gain a superior facility,” he said.” The City of Tampa and Community Redevelopment Agency have committed funding to restore the surrounding street grid and make needed infrastructure improvements to support the area’s redevelopment. “Thanks to the support of the Florida Board of Governors, we can say with confidence that the University of South Florida Morsani School of Medicine and the USF Heart Institute will call downtown Tampa home,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a statement. “This is a big, bold collaboration. It takes imagination, public and private financial commitment, and tenacity to see a vision as dynamic as this through to fruition. And, it’s because of the University of South Florida’s continued commitment to academic excellence that building them a new facility with immediate access to Tampa General Hospital and our urban core is the right choice.”
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Two Financial Companies Relocate to Palm Beach County
The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County helped two companies in the financial and insurance industry with recent relocations. Olympus Insurance, with more than 70,000 property insurance policyholders across Florida, moved to Palm Beach Gardens from Orlando. Wealth management firm and hedge fund Govic Capital will base its headquarters in Palm Beach but will still maintain a small presence in New York and Sarasota. It’s part of a trend of financial firms leaving the more expensive and tax-heavy New York market. "These relocation projects are solid wins for Palm Beach County and demonstrate the BDB’s commitment to strengthening the economic vitality and diversity of our county,” BDB President and CEO Kelly Smallridge said. “The economy is definitely rebounding, and the pipeline of companies looking to relocate to Palm Beach County continues to grow.”
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Whiting Aviation Park Could Bring Hundreds of Jobs
Santa Rosa County is eyeing major developments at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton that could bring hundreds or potentially thousands of aviation-industry jobs to the county, requesting nearly $5 million from the state this year in hopes of making the project a reality. As part of the state funding request, the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners hosted a legislative delegation tour Monday to showcase the county’s plans for developing Whiting Aviation Park, an aviation-focused industrial park connected to Whiting Field.
Reps. Doug Broxson and Mike Hill attended the tour with Santa Rosa County Commission Chairman Don Salter, along with Dave Murzin, a legislative aide for Sen. Greg Evers and Whiting Field Commanding Officer Capt. Todd Bahlau. The county owns 269 acres adjacent to Whiting Field available for development, which would be completed in two phases. “The No. 1 targeted jobs in the state of Florida are aviation-related jobs,” Salter said. “They’re very secure, they’re high-paying, so we think with development of the Whiting Aviation Park, it’s going to be the next generation of economic development in Santa Rosa County.”
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