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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 $260 | Non-Members $425
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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.
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March 2015 Employment Figures Released
The national unemployment rate was 5.5% in March, unchanged from the February rate and down 1.1% from 6.6% a year ago. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased in March (+126,000). Over the prior 12 months,employment growth had averaged 269,000 per month. In March, employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. Read the Commissioner's Statement and download stats: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm
Manufacturing on the Rise in Florida
When one thinks of business in Florida, most think of tourism—amusement parks, fishing, golf, and beaches—or Florida’s world-famous citrus agriculture—oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries. Perhaps Florida’s best kept secret: Florida’s manufacturing sector is surging forward.
Florida’s business-friendly climate creates an allure for manufacturers. All Floridians relish in the fact that there is no personal income tax. In addition to the income tax advantage, Florida’s government further encourages economic development. For example, manufacturers celebrated Florida’s recent elimination of the sales taxes on machinery and equipment used in manufacturing. This sales tax relief should save Florida’s manufacturers over $140 million annually. According to Enterprise Florida, Florida now ranks among the top 10 states in the country for manufacturing. Florida has more than 18,000 manufacturers employing more than 317,000 employees. State-level policies make a big difference. Manufacturers’ expansion within Florida and relocations to Florida prove as much.
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Renewing Enterprise Zones “Top Priority” For Miami-Dade County Commission
Enterprise Zones have created thousands of jobs in economically distressed areas of Miami-Dade County and encouraged business investment in some of the poorest areas. The program — which is scheduled to sunset at the end of the year — gives tax incentives to businesses that create jobs in the designated “enterprise zones,” areas with high rates of unemployment, poverty and crime. Political leaders at the county level support the program. Jean Monestime, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission, said renewing enterprise zones was a “top priority” for the commission.
But after a recent trip to Tallahassee to lobby lawmakers on that and other issues, Monestime said he hadn’t seen “too much positive traction yet in terms of extending the sunset date, which is unfortunate.”
“The program is an investment in this community for the future,” Monestime said. “Businesses need to see some kind of incentives to come to the poorest areas of the urban core.” Gov. Rick Scott has not taken a public position on the issue. When asked for the governor’s stance, spokeswoman Jeri Bustamante repeatedly said that Scott will “will review any legislation that makes it to his desk.”
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Santa Rosa Industrial Park Brings Business, New Jobs
With several companies already settling in at the Santa Rosa Industrial Park in East Milton and another three expected in the coming months, the county-owned complex is slated to be near capacity for the first time ever by the end of this year. Those new tenants are expected to generate more than 100 new jobs during the next five years.
Since October, the Santa Rosa Economic Development Office has been able to more efficiently provide interested parties with data gathered for Gulf Power’s Florida First Sites program, which makes industrial parks and sites more attractive to businesses by eliminating risk factors. The program provides detailed information about utilities, access, environmental concerns and potential development costs, which Santa Rosa EDO Director Shannon Ogletree said has already been beneficial in a competitive economic market. “I can think of several instances where we were able to pull data out of that site certification folder and respond right away,” Ogletree said. “Having that data was invaluable. When we get RFPs from companies, we’re given maybe five working days to respond.” The certification was finalized in January, making the Northwest Florida Industrial Park at Interstate 10 and 160 acres of the Santa Rosa Industrial Park two of only six sites in the state to be certified. The new developments, combined with companies planning to either relocate or expand to the county’s main industrial park, will leave about 30 to 40 acres of desirable land available for development in the park.
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University of South Florida Partnership To Use $1 Million To Keep Tampa Bay Wave Afloat
A major presence in Tampa Bay’s startup and technology scenes has received funding it needs to keep the Wave from crashing. The money — which includes $500,000 from the United States Commerce Department and a matching amount from unnamed private and public partners — will go to the FirstWave Venture Center in the Sykes building in downtown Tampa. The center is home to Tampa Bay Wave Inc., USF’s partner for the grant and a provider of services to help grow startup companies.
The partnership, along with fellow public institution University of Central Florida, is one of 26 recipients of this 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies program grant. The Tampa partnership previously received $1 million in 2012 to launch the FirstWave Venture Center. That helped 94 startups to raise $12.6 million in capital, creating 337 jobs. Proponents for Tampa Bay’s startup and technology communities say creating an environment where more startups can form encourages Tampa Bay’s highly skilled high-wage earners to not leave the area for more prosperous areas such as Silicon Valley. Funding the startup and technology scenes also encourages more high skilled high-wage earners to move to the region, building the Bay area’s reputation and economic development.
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Century Partners With UWF For Economic Development
The Town of Century and the Community Economic Development Association for Escambia County are the first participants in the Northwest Florida Asset Valuation and Marketing Support Program. As participants in the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement program, Century and CEDA will work with UWF marketing professors to develop a marketing plan that will help the Century community identify its business assets and promote them to site selectors and companies looking to expand or relocate.
Launched in February, the $250,000 Northwest Florida Asset Valuation and Marketing Support Program provides participants with funding to help offset the cost of hiring UWF faculty, staff and students to conduct market studies, create promotional campaigns and deliver other services that enhance the marketability of locales and geography-based assets in Northwest Florida. Individual awards can be no larger than $20,000, and participating organizations must contribute at least $1 for every dollar awarded through the program. Interested parties may review and download the request for participation by visiting the OEDE website: http://uwf.edu/offices/oede/funding-opportunities/nwfl-avms-program/
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FDOT Strategic Plan To Encourage Development in Washington County
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is updating its Florida Transportation Plan (FTP) and the Strategic Intermodal System (SIS) Policy Plan. For Washington County, that could mean more allure for new industry. “From a community standpoint, four-laning State Road 77 and 79 is a strategic part of the plan because what we’re doing is making a connection to I-10, the port in Panama City, and the airport at Florida Beaches International,” said Ian Satter, FDOT Public Information Director in Chipley. The linking of the three transportation hubs could also mean less cost to customers due to lower shipping fees.
The FTP defines Florida’s future transportation vision and identifies goals, objectives, and strategies to accomplish that vision. The FTP is the statewide long-range transportation plan for all of Florida. The SIS Policy Plan identifies policies for planning and implementing Florida’s Strategic Intermodal System, the statewide high-priority network of transportation facilities critical to Florida’s economic competitiveness.
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JAXUSA Partnership Praises Efforts Of Helga van Eckert
Helga van Eckert recently marked the third anniversary of her hiring as executive director of Flagler County’s Department of Economic Opportunity by treating the day like any other: focusing on efforts to recruit companies to the area. “We’ve been so busy, we didn’t have time for a celebration,” she said, referring to her three-member staff.
Jerry Mallot, president of the JAXUSA Partnership, the seven-county economic development group for the Jacksonville area that includes Flagler as its southernmost member, praised her Thursday. In a gathering of Flagler County business leaders and elected officials, he called van Eckert “a star within JAXUSA and frankly (among other economic development professionals) within the state. She is a tiger. She goes after business.”
“If you’re not aggressive, you miss opportunities (to recruit businesses) along the way,” Mallot told attendees of the Think Flagler First luncheon put on by the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and the county’s Department of Economic Opportunity. “Helga doesn’t miss opportunities,” he said.
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UCF To Receive $1 Million In Grants To Help Entrepreneurs
The University of Central Florida will receive more than $1 million to help local entrepreneurs from grants designed to help business professionals. The money is part of two grants — the i6 Challenge and the Regional Innovation Strategies Program — which will help entrepreneurs grow start-up businesses. UCF is one of two U.S. universities receiving both grants. The grants will increase seed funding and expand makerspace labs. The money will also help entrepreneurs design and sell products.
“These grants will enable local innovators to design, develop and sell new products,” Penny Pritzker, the United States Secretary of Commerce said. “These funds will be a catalyst for communities to attract broader investments to their innovation ecosystems, which will create high-wage jobs and ensure America remains the world leader in innovation.” UCF is one of just two universities across the country to receive the grants.
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Final Bid Submitted For Osceola Tech Center Defense Contract
The University of Central Florida and its partners have submitted their final proposal in their effort to win a $110 million Department of Defense contract for the new Osceola tech center. The Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center is one of several finalists for the Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute, including New York and California. A site visit from the review board which will award the bid is planned for April 27 and 28.
UCF has designated $10 million to design and build the 10,000-square-foot integrated facility, and will lease the building for 30 years for $1 a year and provide $7 million in faculty hires. Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Enterprise Florida, Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, the University of Florida and the University of South Florida also are partners. Osceola County voted in February to approve up to $67.5 million in bonds to fund their contribution to the project, which is estimated to reach $270 million by the time it opens in 2016.
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