January 30, 2015 Economic Development News Round-up

President's Message

Good afternoon!

This week Tax Watch released the Enterprise Zone report on Tuesday and we held a press conference on Wednesday at the Capitol to talk about the importance of reauthorizing the Zones. FEDC, Tax Watch, The League of Cities, Florida Retail Association and other participated to show we all want to see reauthorization happen. It will be a heavy lift and we will need everyone’s support. Please stay tuned!

On another note, I am pleased to announce that the Florida Economic Development Conference will be held May 17-19 at the Swann Hotel in Orlando. Registration will open next week. Additionally we will be accepting award applications so please think about what your organization has done on the marketing front and be ready to submit! This years’ conference will be packed with new and exciting topics and a new format. We look forward to seeing you there!

Thank you for all you do and have a safe and wonderful weekend!


Amy L. Evancho
President & CEO
Florida Economic Development Council
3802 Spectrum Blvd.
Suite 141
Tampa, FL 33612
813-977-3332 – Office
954-319-2435 – Cell


News and Accomplishments

Florida Tax Watch Report: Enterprise Zones Fill Vital Need

Enterprise Zones Fill a Vital Need for Deteriorating Communities Some of Florida’s most economically depressed areas are benefiting from a small state economic development program, according to Florida TaxWatch, the state’s spending watchdog. In their latest independent report, Florida TaxWatch calls on the Legislature to revise and extend the state’s Enterprise Zone program, designed to revitalize and redevelop distressed, blighted areas in Florida.

The Enterprise Zone program, scheduled to sunset in December 2015, is unlike any of the state’s other economic development program. Rather than recruiting high-wage businesses to Florida, the Enterprise Zone program works to encourage development and job creation in areas with little business investment.

“Enterprise Zones across the state have helped curb a shortage of investment, in both local community support and in private capital, experienced by the state’s deteriorating areas,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute and government watchdog, Florida TaxWatch. “Our comprehensive analysis of Florida’s Enterprise Zones calls for substantial legislative reforms that will increase the program’s efficacy and value to taxpayers and each of the communities they were established to serve.”
Download Report »

The Employment Situation — January 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) press release covering national employment and unemployment estimates for January 2015 and the BLS Commissioner’s statement released this morning are attached.
  • The national unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in January 2015, slightly up from the December rate of 5.6 percent but down 0.9 percentage point from 6.6 percent a year ago.
  • Total nonagricultural employment was 140,849,000 in January 2015, an increase of 257,000 jobs (+0.2 percent) over the month and an increase of 3,207,000 jobs (+2.3 percent) over the year.
Florida’s January labor statistics will be released on Tuesday, March 17, 2015.
Press Release and Statistics

Florida Chamber Unveils 2015 Competitiveness Agenda

The Florida Chamber of Commerce unveiled its 2015 competitiveness agenda and said it will focus its resources to advance a jobs, growth and opportunity agenda. The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Where We Stand is a blueprint of legislative priorities developed with input from our members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, foundation research and unfinished business from prior years. Achieving these priorities will help make Florida more competitive and create opportunity for Floridians.
Download Agenda »

Merritt Island Boat Works to Create 380 New Jobs

Merritt Island Boat Works will open a new manufacturing facility in Merritt Island, which will create at least 380 new jobs and a capital investment of more than $16 million in Brevard County. Governor Scott said, “Florida is on a mission to become the global destination for jobs and it great news for the families in Brevard County that 380 new jobs will be added to the community. While Merritt Island Boat Works considered other states for their new facility, they chose Florida as the best place to create jobs. This year, we are proposing to permanently eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing equipment so more manufacturers like Merritt Island Boat Works will choose Florida to grow and expand their business.”
Read More »

New Marketing Strategy for Economic Development in Lee County

TA new marketing strategy for economic development in Lee County was unveiled on Friday by the Horizon Council for the business community and joined by a look back at the successes of 2014. 2015 promises to be a great year for Lee County, and there are many new initiatives under way,” Denis Noah, the 2015 chairman of the Horizon Council, a public-private economic development partnership, said. In the coming year, Lee County’s Economic Development Office will work on the new strategy to market the area with Development Counsellors International, in partnership with Priority Marketing. Andy Levine, president of DCI, spoke to attendees about the multi-prong plan set for Lee County. Dennie Hamilton, president of the Horizon Council, wrapped up the annual meeting by stating that there was great economic development and business progress made within Lee County in 2014. “We look forward to more victories this year,” he said.
Read More »

Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance hires Inaugural Executive Director

The Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance has hired Eric Berglund as the first executive director of the organization. "I appreciate the Board’s confidence in me to deliver on their plans and I am looking forward to getting started. Southwest Florida is gaining national attention as a preferred place for employers to grow and prosper. I am excited to move into the region and work together with our local economic development partners on new initiatives geared toward recruiting more investment and jobs,” said Eric Berglund.

Berglund joins the Alliance during its second year of operations and will be introduced at the inaugural Alliance annual meeting on Feb. 25. He begins his new role March 16. The Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance is a marketing engine focused on promoting the five counties of Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry. Its private funding base was just augmented by a $100,000 commitment from Collier County. Check out its website at
Read More »

Creating Jobs Across County Lines

It seems like a new restaurant or business pops up along US 90 in Lake City almost every day, but for Suwannee County Economic Development Director Alvin Jackson, the growth in Columbia County doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Columbia County has had infrastructure in place,” said Jackson. “It was already zoned for commercial and retail all along the I-75 corridor. That has been in place a long time and it has taken a while, maybe 10 to 15 years, but they’re now reaping the benefits.”

According to Lake City Growth Management Director Bob Hathcox, several restaurants are set to open or begin construction in the coming year near US 90 and I-75 in Lake City. “Lake City is attractive to businesses because it has everything a growing community needs,” said Hathcox. “We’re also known as ‘the Gateway to Florida,’ with I-10 and I-75 exits making us one of the major stops coming out of South Georgia. It’s an ideal location for growth.” Hathcox said the influx of new restaurants and businesses into Lake City are not the result of sudden decisions. The businesses have undergone lengthy due diligence procedures and spent millions of dollars on studies to ensure they will do well in their new location, said Hathcox.

Hunter works with Jackson and other county officials in the North Central Florida Economic Development District (NCFED) to bring industry, commercial, and retail business – and the accompanying much-needed jobs – to the entire region. If an industry isn’t the right fit for Columbia, it may be suggested to Suwannee or other counties, said Hunter. “We all work together,” said Hunter on the NCFED. “We try to compliment each other, and it seems like we’re all moving in the right direction. I’m excited we’re on the same page.”
Read More »

Job Links

City of Titusville
Economic Development Director

Hillsborough County Economic Development Department
Coordinator, Redevelopment Site Analysis

Orlando EDC
Business Development Director

City of Hollywood
Assistant City Manager

City of Debary
Transit Oriented Development Marketing Manager

Pasco County
Economic Development Manager

Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance
Executive Director

Pasco County
Program Administrator, Economic Growth

Gulf Power Company
Community & Economic Development General Manager

University of South Florida
Economic Development Program Director

Palm Beach Business Development Board
Vice President, Business Retention and Expansion

Palm Beach Business Development Board
Vice President, Business Recruitment

City of Hollywood
Vice President, Economic Development – Rural Communities

Palm Beach Business Development Board
Corridor Redevelopment Manager

City of St. Petersburg
Economic Development Analyst

City of Coral Springs
Economic Development Manager

Business Development Board of Palm Beach County
Vice President, Business Recruitment

City of Boynton Beach
Manager of Economic Development


Florida’s Transportation Visioning Regional Forums - JACKSONVILLE

February 11th, 2015 @ FDOT District 2 Urban Office Training Facility
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Florida’s Transportation Visioning Regional Forums - FORT WALTON BEACH

February 12th, 2015 @ Emerald Coast Convention Center
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Northwest Florida FEDC Training Seminar

February 27th, 2015 @ Lewis Bear Facility - Ebro
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Janus Forum

February 28th - March 4th, 2015 @ Omni Plantation on Amelia Island
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North Florida Economic Development Academy

March 12-13th & March 26-27th
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28th Annual Government Small Business Conference hosted by SBDC TampaBay
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Enterprise Florida

Florida High Tech Corridor

Florida Trend



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