Innovate Northeast Florida Releases Year One Progress Report, Business Leaders Highlight Initiatives to Grow Northeast Florida’s Economy

July 26, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (July 25, 2013) – Regional business leaders and elected officials celebrated accomplishments from the first year of the Innovate Northeast Florida Target Industry Implementation Plan, a five-year community economic development strategic plan.

In the past year, the region focused on implementing more than 100 recommendations listed in the Innovate Northeast Florida study.

“We made great strides during our first year and look forward to continued momentum in our efforts to drive economic prosperity to our region,” said Innovate Northeast Florida co-chair Bob Rhodes, a Jacksonville attorney.

The achievements were released by the Northeast Florida Regional Council and JAXUSA Partnership, a division of the JAX Chamber, at the JAXUSA Partnership Regional Economic Development Forum.

Sponsored by Stellar and AT&T, the program highlighted the advancements made to grow Northeast Florida’s top industries – advanced manufacturing, aviation, financial services, health and life sciences, information technology and logistics, since unveiling the plan last year.

“The business leaders of the Northeast Florida region achieved great progress in their efforts to implement the recommendations of the Innovate Northeast Florida plan,” said Amy Holloway, president of Avalanche Consulting, one of the national consulting firms that helped to facilitate the project.

As part of the implementation plan, focus areas were identified with specific action items for marketing and business development, talent development, physical infrastructure improvements, entrepreneurship and innovation, and business climate. The program highlighted accomplishments achieved during the past year including:

  • Convened regional education and business leaders to discuss the needs of enhancing local education programs to meet the region’s skilled workforce demands in the growing Finance and IT industries
  • Innovative Startup Quest Program, an entrepreneurship training program for out-of-work, degree-holding professionals in partnership with the University of Florida
  • Formation of the Northeast Florida Transportation Alliance to address infrastructure issues and market the region’s potential as a logistics, freight and intermodal gateway
  • Elimination of sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment, making the region more competitive for high-skill, high-wage manufacturing jobs
  • Regional Marketing to attract an excellent workforce and top industries to the region

“Supporting new and innovative ways to advance economic development in our region will help us achieve long-term sustainable economic growth,” said Innovate Northeast Florida co-chair Elaine Johnson of Florida Blue.

“We have numerous reasons to celebrate in our region,” said JAXUSA Partnership President Jerry Mallot. “The number of new jobs announced during the first half of 2013 is more than any first half of the year figure since 2006, before the recession struck. We are on the right track, momentum is building and our region is getting its swagger back.”

About JAX Chamber
The JAX Chamber is the business membership organization dedicated to driving quality economic growth in Northeast Florida to make this region the best place to work, live and play. Membership provides the opportunity to connect with and buy from other Chamber members. The connections result in business growth and a more prosperous economy.

About JAXUSA Partnership
JAXUSA Partnership is the regional economic development organization comprised of almost 200 top private sector investors in Northeast Florida, including the Jacksonville Office of Economic Development, JEA, JAXPORT, JAA, JTA, WorkSource and the regional county partners – Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. A division of the JAX Chamber, its purpose is to facilitate the creation and retention of quality jobs and significant capital investment, resulting in a higher standard of living and better quality of life in Northeast Florida.