March 13, 2015 Economic Development News Round-up

President's Message

Good Afternoon!

The Florida Economic Development Council is proud to recognize the state of Florida’s most dedicated economic, workforce and community developers and organizations. Every year, FEDC recognizes outstanding achievements in the economic development community with a number of awards that are presented at the Conference.  We will be opening the nominations process soon -  start thinking about individuals, teams, volunteers and companies in your area who should be recognized for their work in  advancing Florida’s business climate and economy.

The FEDC Conference will be held July 13th-15th at the Walt Disney Swan Resort. There is still time to register for the 2015 Conference at the discounted rate of $260 for FEDC members. This discounted rate will be available through April 2nd but space if filling up quickly. Register NOW to be sure you are part of the discussion about how Florida is Leading the Way!  Standard rooms at the Swan are $199 per night and upgraded room packages are available. The online reservation system is open or you may call 1-888-828-8850 to make your reservation.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Have a great weekend and thank you for all you do!


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


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.


Members $210 | Non-Members $310


The online reservation system for the Walt Disney Swan Resort is NOW OPEN. Standard room rates are $199 and upgrades are available. You may make your reservation online or by calling 1-888-828-8850.



News and Accomplishments

New Florida Budget Forecast Predicts Slow Steady Growth

Florida’s economy continues to have slow steady growth. State economists met Tuesday to draw up new forecasts to predict how much the state will collect in taxes. The forecasts will be used by state legislators as they draw up this year’s budget.

Economists expect the state’s main budget account to grow nearly 5 percent during the fiscal year that ends in June. They predict growth of an additional 4.5 percent in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Amy Baker, coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, called the changes “marginal” from previous estimates. That leaves legislators with roughly $1 billion extra in state money for this year. But the loss of federal aid that now goes to hospitals may make it hard for legislators to balance this year’s budget.
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Top Biz Execs: Robust Economic Picture on the Horizon for Northeast Florida

Business leaders see reason for optimism nationwide, and the Jacksonville region is no exception. A new Business Pulse Survey by SunTrust Bank found that 80 percent of corporate decision-makers feel confident about the vitality of their own companies — so much so that they’re considering plans for expansion and growth. Arnold Evans, North Florida region president for SunTrust, said the findings mirror trends the bank is seeing in Northeast Florida. “I think there is a very strong view that the economy is improving, that we’re coming out of the downturn and that we’ve turned the corner,” said Evans. Evans said that clients in the bank’s commercial lending division tell him that the cost-cutting measures of leaner times have allowed many companies in Jacksonville to think about investment again.

One of the strongest sectors of the local market, in Evans’ opinion, is Jacksonville’s port, especially with the possibility of dredging the St. Johns River to allow for larger ships. “The fact that we’re talking about taking action, instead of reaction, to improve activity there is a great thing,” Evans said. Other industries where local bankers are seeing a lot of traction include health care, technological services and innovation. With growth in mind, business executives are considering everything from infrastructure improvements to more hiring and new lines of products and services. Mergers and acquisitions — especially those that take weaker competitors out of the market — are also on the table. “The focus is really on organic growth,” Evans added.
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Freight Corridors & Logistics Hubs Shape the Location Decision

Existing logistics hubs and freight corridors are currently attracting the close attention of many manufacturers and warehouse/distribution companies looking for new facilities, and for good reason. The driving force behind this trend is the rising importance of logistics and the supply chain.

At first glance one might assume this makes selecting a new location for a manufacturing plant or a distribution center easier — the closer you can get to a hub or a corridor the better. However, if companies invest without understanding the entire, complex set of cost and conditions issues, they risk making hub or corridor decisions that could have negative consequences with regard to profitability, flexibility, and competitiveness. Although logistics efficiencies and costs may be lower, these areas typically have higher labor costs, higher real estate costs, tougher permitting and regulatory approval processes, security concerns, and higher taxes as well as increased congestion — all items that can negate the logistics advantages. The key is to be aware of the trade-offs against the other investment criteria and other less expensive locations, and see how they all compare at the bottom line. To do this requires conducting a thorough, detailed, logistics-based site selection.
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ReliaQuest Expands Tampa, Florida, Operations Center Hub

eliaQuest, a leading provider of information technology security solutions and professional services, will expand their operations, creating up to 55 new information technology jobs at their corporate headquarters in Tampa, Florida. “Our rapid growth and the demand for our managed and co-managed IT security services caused us to seriously consider relocating the new ReliaQuest SOC in Tampa to an area more central to our entire North American customer base,” said Brian Murphy, President/CEO of ReliaQuest.

Florida ranks third for high-tech establishments, and is also the third largest exporter of high-tech products in the nation, the Governor’s Office said. The state’s IT strengths include diverse and growing sectors and some 25,000 IT companies, which employ nearly 250,000 professionals. Florida offers support structures for the full life-cycle of IT firms, allowing companies to start, succeed and expand in the Sunshine State. “ReliaQuest had offers from at least three other states and the encouragement of several of their top clients to relocate, but they chose to stay and create more jobs here in Tampa,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Our high tech workforce is as competitive as that of any other city in the country. They understand that, and that’s why they are committed to growing their business in Tampa.”

The project was made possible through strong partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Development, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Hillsborough County, and the City of Tampa.
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Orlando: We’re More Than Just Mickey Mouse

What comes to mind when you think of Orlando? Chances are it involves a mouse. That’s the impression the city’s Economic Development Commission is trying to counter with its new effort themed, “Orlando: You Don’t Know the Half of It.” The TV, print, digital, social media, out-of-home, PR and direct mail campaign, created by Anson-Stoner, Winter Park, Fla., aims to get businesses thinking about moving to the Orlando area by dispelling the myth that the region is all about tourism. According to the OEDC, only 22% of Orlando’s employment is related directly to tourism (out of the 33% directly or indirectly related to tourism). Orlando, said the organization’s president-CEO Rick Weddle, ” is well known, but poorly understood.”

The public-private partnership has enlisted 40-plus companies, including Massey Services, SunTrust Bank, Tupperware Brands, Duke Energy — and yes, Walt Disney World — to help fund the effort, which it hopes to spend up to $2 million a year on for the next three years. The five-year goal is to draw 17% more jobs, $600 million in new payroll, $1 billion in gross regional product and $2.2 billion in sales to Orlando.
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Wekiva Parkway to Drive Changes in Lake County

When the Wekiva Parkway connects to the Mount Dora area in 2019, that single stretch of asphalt could transform the east side of Lake County, area leaders and planners say. “This is an enormous deal for Lake County,” said Robert Chandler IV, Lake County’s director of economic growth.

The parkway is designed to run from State Road 429 in Apopka north through Lake County, where it will veer east and connect with Interstate 4 in Sanford. At the point where the parkway veers east, an offshoot will continue northwest, to the east side of Mount Dora. The parkway will be transformational for the area east of U.S. Highway 441, including the eastern, rural side of Mount Dora and the communities of Sorrento and Mount Plymouth, according to Chandler. There will be significant benefits for Mount Dora and Eustis as well.

Chandler said a lot of economic development is about timing. It is predicated on how long it takes to get to customers and suppliers or how long it takes suppliers to get to businesses. When the Wekiva Parkway opens, access between the metropolitan Orlando area and eastern Lake County will improve significantly and the local economy should flourish. Dianne Kramer, the acting city manager and the director of development services in Eustis, says the parkway gives the whole area better access to everything in Central Florida. “That opens up all kinds of opportunities. It opens up residential opportunities, industrial opportunities, commercial opportunities,” she said. “We hope to take advantage of that.”
Read More »

Lawmakers Could Limit Governor’s Job Incentive Program

Lawmakers want to put limits on how Gov. Rick Scott uses large pots of money set aside to lure jobs to the state, complaining that his administration has too frequently let businesses off the hook in fully complying with all their wage and return-on-investment requirements. Scott used the incentive money during his first term to spur job creation, a main tenet of both his campaigns. Lawmakers signed-off on big incentive projects, including $41 million to two companies in 2014 as Scott was running for re-election, but are now expressing concerns. House and Senate bills would limit when Scott’s top jobs agency, the Department of Economic Opportunity, could waive requirements needed to finalize incentive contracts.

The office of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli has had direct input in the bill, which includes several other unrelated economic development provisions. Crisafulli says the waiver provisions will “go a long way to bring more confidence that our tax incentives are being used effectively.” The House bill, managed by state Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, passed its first committee stop, while the Senate bill had its first hearing Tuesday.
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Women’s Business Center Opens In Orlando

The Florida Institute of Technology opened its first Women’s Business Center in downtown Orlando Thursday. The school already had success with women’s business centers in Melbourne and Rockledge. FIT says the centers are designed to be incubators of ideas, places for entrepreneurial women to make contacts, receive mentoring, training and education. The school wanted to tap into Orlando’s growing technology hub and provide resources that will help women innovate.

“We want all women who are starting or growing their company to be able to leverage digital technology for their company, these technologies that will help them grow or scale… but we also want to help women who have patents. We want to help them commercialize their patents and launch companies around those as well,” said Leslie Hielema, Vice President of rlando Center Florida Institute of Technology. The center is being funded by a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Read More »

Job Links

City of Tamarac
Economic Development Manager

W192 Development Authority Board
W192 Executive Director

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

Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance
Executive Director

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

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

City of Boynton Beach
Manager of Economic Development


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TampaBay Export Alliance 2015 International Town Hall

May 8th 2015 @ Hilton Carillon, St. Petersburg
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2015 FEDC Annual Conference @ Walt Disney Swan Resort

July 13-15th, 2015
Early Bird Pricing available through March 6th! REGISTER NOW »

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SAVE THE DATE: Ocbober 2015
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