WOW! is how I would describe the FEDC Winter Symposium. We just had an action-packed two 1/2 day event with some of the best Site Consultants in the country. Initial feedback I am hearing is that the amount of sharing of information about what consultants look for, impressions of Florida and the roundtables were fantastic!
I would like to give special thanks to our sponsors for the symposium: FPL, Gulf Power, PowerSouth, Santa Rosa County Economic Development, Becker & Poliakoff and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. Their sponsorship enabled such a quality event!
. This will be a great month for information, networking and best practices!
Lastly, I'm sure you all will join myself and the FEDC Board in wishing Secretary Gray Swoope only the very best as he embarks on new adventures. Gray, the consummate professional and economic developer, has left an indelible mark on Florida. To see the accomplishments in economic development over the past 4 years with Gray at the helm has been wonderful. We will be sad to see Gray go but know the path he forged will continue.
Thank you to those who attended the Winter Symposium, thanks to all of you for what you do and have a wonderful and safe weekend.
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Gray Swoope Resigns from Enterprise Florida
Gray Swoope resigned Wednesday after four years leading Enterprise Florida and serving as Gov. Rick Scott’s Secretary of Commerce. Scott said Swoope has been an integral part of the state’s emergence on the national stage for economic deals. “Four years ago, Florida wasn’t even at the table for major economic deals, but Gray turned all that around,” Scott wrote in a statement.
Scott touted Swoope’s leadership with numbers: “Florida has created over 715,000 jobs over the last four years and our unemployment rate has dropped from 11.1 percent to 5.8 percent,” he wrote in the statement. “Gray has carved a lasting imprint on Florida’s economic history that has put us on the path to surpass Texas and take up the mantle as the number one state for job creation.”
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Becca Hardin Named President of Bay EDA
The Executive Committee of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance (Bay EDA) named Becca Hardin as President of the organization. Hardin joined the Bay EDA in October, of last year, as Senior Vice President and was named Interim President in November when it was announced that then Executive Director, Neal Wade, had accepted an opportunity with the University of Alabama.
“I’ve been blown away by the incredible assets that we have to market in Bay County. I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with our partners and stakeholders to bring high wage jobs to the area,” said Hardin. “There is so much potential in Bay County. My family and I are so excited to become a part of this community, and we’ve already made investments in our future here.”
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Florida TaxWatch: GrowFL Would Help Produce 25,000 Jobs Over 10 years
GrowFL, a state program aimed at growing and developing job-creating companies in Florida, should be expanded, according to a new report from the nonpartisan public policy research institute, Florida TaxWatch. The GrowFL program works to develop small but growing companies with high job creation potential with an average salary of more than $77,000, according to the TaxWatch report. TaxWatch estimates that expanding the program would generate $16.54 million per year over the next 10 years. GrowFL over the next 10 years would help produce 25,000 jobs, diversify the state economy and provide positive return on Florida’s investments, the report finds.
“Expanding the GrowFL program is a great way to grow the state economy by investing in second-stage companies, which are now responsible for more than 30 percent of all Florida jobs,” said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. Companies selected to participate in GrowFL must have revenues between $1 million and $50 million, employ between 10 and 99 people, and be able to sell their products outside of Florida. More than 650 Florida businesses participated in the program from July 2011 to June 2013, resulting in more than 1,867 net new jobs, according to the report.
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Florida’s Leading Indicator Up Again in November
Florida’s leading indicator — a measurement of economic activity in the state compiled by Durham, N.H.-based e-forecasting.com — increased in November by 0.3 percent after an increase of 0.2 percent in October. The November data is the most recent available.
Seven of the 10 components that make up Florida’s leading indicator had a positive contribution in November: unemployment claims, exports of manufactures, international tourism outlook, Floridians’ consumer sentiment, national stock prices, interest rate spread and national technology index. Looking at its six-month growth rate, a signal of turning points, Florida’s leading indicator recorded a positive growth rate of 3.2 percent in November, up from October’s 3 percent. This compares to a long-term annual growth rate of 1.8 percent, the same as the annual growth rate of the state’s overall economic activity.
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Orange County Economic Summit 2015 Wrap-Up
Orange County's economy is booming, according to county officials who met with business leaders Thursday morning at the convention center for an Annual Economic Summit. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs hosted the summit. Several experts discussed expanding the local economy, international trade, business-related programs, and the region's new branding campaign, "Orlando: You don't know the half of it." University of Central Florida's Dr. Sean Snaith, director for the Institute for Economic Competitiveness, described the economy in Orange County as remarkable. According to Snaith, the economy is continuing to grow, jobs are being created at a very fast rate and have a potential to grow.
Read the Top 10 Take-Aways »
Florida’s First LNG Plant Proposed for Brevard
Florida East Coast Industries wants to build a $250 million liquefied natural gas production and distribution plant on undeveloped land it owns west of U.S. 1 in Titusville — a project the company says would be the first of its kind in Florida. Company officials say the plant would offer the region a supply of clean-burning fuel; create construction and permanent jobs; spur spinoff businesses; and generate millions of dollars a year in property taxes for Brevard County, Titusville and the Brevard Public Schools. Matt Davis, Florida East Coast Industries’ point person on the project said the project would create about 40 direct and spinoff jobs, including about 15 at the plant itself. It also would create more than 300 construction jobs.
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Governor Scott announces 134 new jobs at VOXX International
Governor Rick Scott announced that VOXX International Corporation will expand its automotive components production facility with a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing center and corporate headquarters in Orlando. As a part of this initiative, VOXX International has also begun the process of moving its New York-based executive headquarters to Orlando, which will eventually be housed in the new building. The expansion will create 134 jobs, in addition to retaining 173 jobs, and invest $16.5 million in the community. VOXX International considered other states but chose Orlando for its local-based talent pool, proximity to major transportation hubs, and business friendly climate. The company will produce market-leading automotive entertainment systems and products in the new 115,000 square-foot facility.
Florida is ranked third in the nation for high-tech establishments. In addition, the state’s software and computer systems design and integration industry is one of the largest in the U.S., with nearly 12,600 firms. Florida manufacturers are a powerful economic engine for the state’s economy. In addition to removing the manufacturing and equipment sales tax on manufacturers earlier this year, Florida’s strong workforce and top-ranked infrastructure make it the perfect state for manufacturers. Secretary of Commerce and EFI president &CEO Gray Swoope said, “VOXX International’s expansion will add great value to Florida’s IT and manufacturing sectors. Companies like VOXX are choosing Florida because of the state’s strong workforce, expansive infrastructure and pro-business climate. We’re excited to see the international growth of VOXX and I look forward to their continued success from this new Florida facility.”
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South Florida Economic Recovery Going Strong Says Fed
David Altig, research director at the Atlanta Federal Reserve, said he was cautioned not to burst his audience’s bubble Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. After a year of lower unemployment, rebounding construction and robust tourism, chamber members were in a pretty good mood. And Altig didn’t say anything to disturb it. South Florida has been one of the greatest stories of the Atlanta Fed’s district. There’s no reason that’s going to reverse in any way,” Altig said after his talk to the chamber.
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Partnership Will Create Action Plan For Chiefland’s Economy
One of the big problems that smaller communities in North Central Florida face is generating enough decent jobs to keep people from leaving. But one town is getting a major shot in the arm. Some perceive Chiefland as a sleepy little town. But a new action plan shows us how the gem of the Suwannee Valley might just be waking up. Chiefland is taking action to build and enhance what the town has to offer. Tuesday leaders kicked off their Competitive Florida partnership with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Competitive Florida is providing Chiefland with a grant of about $50,000. The city will use that money to hire consultants to put together an economic development plan. The program will also help Chiefland find funding sources to help them achieve what they’ve proposed. Last year this partnership was piloted by the city of Newberry and the town of White Springs. The action plan is expected to be completed by late June.
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Second Bay County Economic Development Site Certified
The Panama City Port Authority’s Intermodal Distribution Center has become the second site certified in Bay County through Gulf Power’s Florida First Sites program. Florida First Sites was created in 2013 to help communities prepare locations to attract new industries and new jobs to the region. Of the 14 sites that originally went through the process, four have been certified and six are still working toward their certification.
Gulf Power hired McCallum Sweeney, a nationally recognized site consultant firm, to offer an objective third-party analysis of the submitted sites. The consulting firm evaluates the properties, identifies improvements that must be made and then certifies the sites once they have met all the program requirements. “This site was already attractive because of its rail spur and direct connection to the port,” said Stan Connally, Gulf Power president and CEO. “Having sites like this certified adds the advantage of eliminating most of the risk for companies looking at the site and enhances the speed to market for their products. It’s one of the many ways we are working to expand economic opportunities in Northwest Florida.”
Six remaining sites are working toward certification, including one each in Walton and Okaloosa counties, three in Jackson and one more site in Santa Rosa County. Most of them are expected to be certified by the end of February.
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