This week gave many FEDC members to meet once again at the Enterprise Florida Stakeholder and Board meetings in Tallahassee. The stakeholders had the opportunity to say goodbye to Gray and to welcome Florida’s new Secretary of Commerce, Bill Johnson. Bill is no stranger to Florida and is credited with many, many successes in Miami, including being the former Miami Port Director. Bill gave brief remarks and is dedicated to keep moving Florida forward. As we embark on a new chapter in moving the meter forward in economic development, we welcome our new Secretary who will officially take his post at the end of February. Welcome Bill!
On another note, it is with mixed feelings and a happy heart to wish FEDC Board member, Bill Neron, a very happy retirement. Please join me in congratulating Bill on his retirement from the City of Tavares. Bill’s warm, caring nature and kind, thoughtful approach always made him a joy to work with. We wish Bill happy trails and thank him for all he has have done as an FEDC member and Vice Chair of Finance for FEDC Board. We’ll miss you!
3802 Spectrum Blvd.
Former Dade Ports Chief Bill Johnson Named CEO of Enterprise Florida
Bill Johnson, well-known throughout the Sunshine State for his leadership of Miami’s port, was chosen on Thursday to replace outgoing state Commerce Secretary Gray Swoope as CEO of Enterprise Florida, the public-private partnership focused on expanding economic development. Named by the Enterprise Florida board during its meeting in Tallahassee on Thursday. Johnson starts his new post on March 1. Speaking to the board, Johnson vowed to lead economic development efforts across the state.
“I am thrilled that the Enterprise Florida board has voted for Bill Johnson to become the new executive director” said Governor Rick Scott. “For over 30 years, he has worked with local, state and federal officials to get projects done in Florida to benefit our families -– and I know he will continue to work with elected leaders at all levels of government to bring more opportunities to Florida and ensure we continue to win job creation projects.”
Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, praised Johnson who had been on that organization’s board. “Thanks to Gov. Scott and Enterprise Florida’s effort to promote Florida’s business climate, companies like Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Deutsche Bank, Embraer, GE, Hertz, Lockheed Martin, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, Darden, USAA, United Technologies Corp. and Verizon and more have either located or expanded in Florida, creating thousands of jobs and economic opportunities” said Wilson. “With Bill Johnson at the helm of Enterprise Florida, the Florida Chamber is confident Florida will remain competitive in its efforts to secure new private-sector jobs.”
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Florida’s December Employment Figures
lorida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in December 2014, down 0.2 percentage point from the November 2014 rate of 5.8 percent, and down 0.7 percentage point from 6.3 percent a year ago. The state’s December rate was the lowest since April 2008 when it was 5.4 percent. There were 543,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9,644,000. The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in December. Florida’s unemployment rate has been less than or equal to the national rate for 17 of the last 21 months.
Monroe County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate (3.2 percent); followed by Walton County (3.8 percent); Okaloosa and Alachua counties (4.2 percent each); and Wakulla and St. Johns counties (4.4 percent each). Many of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were those with relatively high proportions of government employment. The industry gaining the most jobs was professional and business services (+49,100 jobs, +4.3 percent). None of the ten major industries lost jobs over the year.
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Tavares Economic Development Director Bill Neron Retires
Mayor Kirby Smith credits Bill Neron with helping to spark robust economic development amid “one of the worst economic times of our recent past” — the financial collapse in 2008. Against the odds, downtown Tavares thrived like never in modern times. “He has done a lot of good for our city,” Smith said.
Now the city is bustling at night with restaurants and bars and Wooten Park - once a haven for stray dogs and vagrants - is downtown’s crown jewel. Visitors are attracted by the seaplanes, numerous weekend events and attractions including Splash Park and Wooton Wonderland, a popular playground that opened in 1992. Looking back, Neron said, “We did some neat stuff.” His plans include traveling, volunteering and spending time with his wife, Cathie, and their five children in a blended family that includes five grandkids. And the couple’s beloved pooches, Bud, a pug, and Sadie, a French bulldog, can expect more attention.
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Florida’s ‘Middle Market’ Companies Plan to Invest and Hire
Nearly four out of five “middle-market” companies in Florida are poised to invest, including in new employees, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Center for the Middle Market. Middle Market companies represent one-third of the private sector gross domestic product, employing about 44.5 million people nationwide. Eighty-seven percent of Florida executives surveyed project an increase in revenue in the next 12 months, with mean total growth of 7.3 percent and 4.7 percent employment growth.
About 1,000 executives from nearly 200,000 mid-sized companies with revenues from $10 million to $1 billion nationwide were interviewed in early December for the quarterly Middle Market Survey. Floridians have significantly higher confidence in the economy than their peers nationally. That confidence also is reflected in a separate survey last week by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce’s Council of Economic Advisors. In the Middle Market survey, 79 percent of Florida middle-market executives said they feel confident in their local economy; 76 percent are confident in the U.S. economy; and 62 percent said they were confident in the global economy. The executives said the cost of health care still ranks as the top challenge to doing business for Florida middle-market firms. Other hurdles include the cost of doing business, the ability to increase revenue, the ability to maintain margins, and the ability to attract and retain talent.
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Grow Your Northwest Florida Business with ScaleUp North Florida
ScaleUp America is a new initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The University of North Florida was selected from more than 60 applicants to deliver ScaleUp services in the Jacksonville MSA, one of only eight communities in the U.S. ScaleUp North Florida will provide the necessary support AT NO CHARGE TO THE BUSINESS OWNER to help companies scale up and grow.
To qualify, your business must be at least three years old with revenues beween $150,000 and $500,000. Only 50 applicants will be accepted to this intensive program designed to scale up your growth and revenue. Classes begin February 10th.
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New High-Tech Jobs Coming to Santa Rosa
The Santa Rosa Industrial Park in Milton will soon welcome 25-plus new jobs and an approximately $1.75 million investment from Aerosync Support Inc., a leader in helicopter repairs, modifications and upgrades. Greg Bartlett, Aerosync president, said the company has been looking at the Pensacola area for about four years, focusing on Milton in more recent years. “In the last two years, we’ve really targeted this area because of the military sector up here,” Bartlett said after the announcement was made during Tuesday’s county commission meeting. “We know that there’s a really good opportunity to expand the aerospace market that exists here.”
Santa Rosa County Economic Development Director Shannon Ogletree said the EDO has been working with Aerosync for about 13 months to bring the project to fruition, taking time to ensure the best location was selected. “The company is willing to take a leap of faith in that given community, and they’re investing their hard-earned dollars at a site,” Ogletree said. “If they invest wrong, it could make or break the company, so they’ve got to be absolutely sure that this location works.” Bartlett said he is excited about bringing new high-paying jobs to Santa Rosa County and servicing the county’s established aerospace market, both in commercial and military sectors. “The idea as well is to bring a lot of our domestic military work that ends up in Texas or Alabama and bring a portion of that to this section of Florida,” Bartlett said.
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Kellstrom Defense Aerospace Expands Operations to Miramar
Kellstrom Defense Aerospace, Inc., a Merex Group company, will expand its South Florida operations to the IDI Corporate Park in Miramar, Florida. The expansion will create 20 new jobs, in addition to retaining 106 jobs, and make a capital investment of $5.9 million in the Miramar community. Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “The expansion of Kellstrom Defense’s Florida operation is another success story in the state’s pursuit of fostering high-skill, high-wage jobs for Florida families. The creation of 20 new jobs over the next three years and a capital investment of nearly $6 million shows that Kellstrom Defense, and many companies like it, are committing to Florida because of the low tax, pro-growth policies of this administration.”
Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance President/CEO Bob Swindell added, “We are very happy that Kellstrom Defense Aerospace is expanding in Miramar. The company’s decision to expand in our region is a good indicator that our efforts in growing Broward County’s Aviation/Aerospace cluster continue to pay off.”This project was made possible through close partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Broward County and the City of Miramar.
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NASA and Space Coast EDC Form Strategic Alliance
NASA and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast announced Wednesday they have formed a “strategic alliance” aimed at bringing cutting-edge technologies and resources to help solve manufacturing and technology challenges for various industries. While helping regional small and medium-sized businesses with access to NASA’s talent pool and advanced technologies, the alliance also is meant to to boost the area’s economy by helping companies grow and be more efficient. The program is part of NASA’s national pilot program for regional economic development.
“With a large concentration of manufacturing and technology companies that operate from the Space Coast, these companies could all benefit from more tools and assistance,” said Lynda Weatherman, the EDC’s president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased to say there is now a program in place, just for them, that will expand their reach, increase their access to emerging innovations, and better position them to compete in an industry that is increasingly focused on new technology.”
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Welcome to Tampa: A Startup Scene Emerges in this Beach Paradise
The Tampa Bay region is not all about sunshine and sand. This historic Florida port, birthplace of Hooters and Wikipedia, has startup fever in a big way. Comprised of the waterfront cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa, this sun-soaked region of 4 million residents is making a serious play to create one of the country’s most desirable entrepreneurial hubs.
We have come a long way … and we are gaining momentum,” says Rebecca White, who leads the entrepreneurship center at the University of Tampa, which is undergoing an expansion of its own with plans for a new facility to be announced later this year. It now has 250 people enrolled in graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship courses, up from about 80 students five years ago. It also helps that Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, who assumed office in 2011, is proactively leading an economic development charge that largely has the support of the startup and business communities. Multiple people interviewed for this story cited Buckhorn’s enthusiasm and energy in transforming the city.
TampaBay Startup Week is February 2-6th and will highlight the success of the emerging TampaBay Startup Scene.
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Collier Business Incubators Moving forward
Collier County’s business incubators are progressing according to schedule but need to move into a larger facility in order to start bringing in companies. The incubators — intended for North Naples and Immokalee — are the centerpiece of Collier’s economic development strategy and are funded with millions in taxpayer money. Last spring, the Legislature allotted Collier $2.5 million and the county kicked in another $1.3 in local funding. They provide a “soft landing” for area businesses looking to take the next step, or either foreign or domestic companies looking to expand into the county. The accelerator would provide resources like expertise, office space and local connections to help businesses grow. Already, officials say they’ve received applications from companies from Germany, the United Kingdom and Finland, along with some domestic and local startups, said Bruce Register, director of Collier Office of Business and Economic Development.
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All Aboard Florida Says Stations Are Expected to Generate Significant Economic Impact
All Aboard Florida has selected Moss & Associates as the general contractor for the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach stations. Construction activities are expected to commence at the end of the first quarter. As part of the urban infrastructure in both counties, All Aboard Florida says the stations are expected to generate significant economic impact to the state. According to a recent economic impact study, All Aboard Florida is expected to create $6.4 billion in direct economic impact to Florida’s economy over the next eight years; $653 million in federal, state and local government tax revenue through 2021; more than 10,000 jobs on average per year through rail line construction and more than 5,000 jobs on average per year after rail line construction is completed through 2021. More specifically, in Broward and Palm Beach County, the project will create more than 1,400 rail-line construction jobs, generating $161.8 million in labor income.
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Central Florida Business Forecast 2015
This is going to be a big year for growth in Central Florida as the region shakes off the final remnants of the Great Recession. Our main industries – including tourism, real estate, retail, technology and health – are poised to take advantage of our improving economy. Job growth, in quantity and quality, will play a critical role as Central Florida continues to look beyond its traditional employment sources and diversify its economic strength while building on cornerstones such as tourism and residential real estate. Gov. Rick Scott’s second term figures to see continued increases in hiring, with wages remaining a question mark for some.
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