Q&A with Interim Executive Director of Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation

Laura Pavlus, interim executive director of Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation, sees a bright future for the county as businesses in the region are recovering after the economic recession. She recently spoke to Florida Business Daily about the organizations’ economic outlook for 2018 as well as the target areas she believes will be ripe for growth.

Question: What do you expect to see this year?

Answer: Continued expansion of our existing business community. Our business community continues to flourish and these prosperous times are generating enough confidence to encourage leaders to move forward with plans for growth. Regional consolidations into Clay County are about 25 percent of our current project load.

Existing business expansion is about 50 percent of project load. An interesting trend we are seeing is that companies are desiring to purchase real estate more than the previous desire to lease.

Q: Who benefits/loses?

A: Clay County benefits with an expanding tax base and a stronger and more competitive business climate. Employers nationally are striving to raise wages to remain competitive in retaining and attracting talent in the labor force.

As the labor market tightened, we saw a lot of transition in organizations as employees whom had been underemployed were given the opportunity to advance. These transitions stretched resources further, but brought new energy and ideas to many organizations.

The labor shortage has also encouraged creative problem solving and better organizational management.

In short-term losses, we hear about employee fatigue.

Employers will need to be sensitive to “burn out” and quality of life as employees are stretched thin and demand is increased.

Q: How should businesses/consumers approach the year from an economic viewpoint?

A: Most business owners have recovered or are beginning to recover from the recession. They remain fiscally conservative and risk adverse in their decisions. This is the time to implement incremental growth strategies.

Whether those strategies are aggressive, moderate or conservative will remain in the decision making of senior leadership.

Q: Which sectors do you see ripe for growth?

A: Construction and trade industries will continue to flourish, as long as population growth remains on track.

The medical industry will continue to explode due to the “greying of the workforce.”

We will see heavy advancement in automation and IT to offset the labor shortages.

Every organization will need to work smarter and with fewer resources to remain competitive.

Q: Which sectors do you think will continue to sink?

A: Non-essential jobs will diminish as technology and automation advancements can offset labor shortages. Businesses will prioritize work with the greatest return and focus on those efforts. Companies will become even more focused and streamlined.

JIA Ranked #1 for Customer Service by Airport Association

Flying to or from Jacksonville International Airport? Anxiety and frustration certainly won’t be symptoms of the travel experience as an article in Jacksonville Business Journal highlights its #1 ranking for customer service for the second straight year. The designation, awarded by Airports Council International and voted on by customers at nearly 350 airports, measure check-in, security, ease of directions, food and beverage options and more.

JIA CEO Steve Grossman recognized that each airport employee plays a role in the experience “whether [they are] an airline employee, custodial staff or a restaurant server,” adding that through the insight obtained by customers who fly in and out of JIA provides “a roadmap for future improvements.”

The popularity of the region as a destination for business or pleasure is being recognized by the airlines as well. In the last six months, airlines have announced new and expanded routes between JIA and Chicago O’Hare, Philadelphia, Denver, Cincinnati, Austin and Trenton, NJ.

2017 Annual Report

JAX Named #2 Most Up-and-Coming City in America

Florida Ranked 2nd for Business Climate

Florida ranks second among the 50 states for having the best business climate, according to a new survey of U.S. corporate executives released at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) annual conference.

Texas ranked first, Georgia ranked third, followed by South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively.

Conducted by the Development Counsellors International (DCI) every three years, the “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” survey has tracked trends in economic development since its inception in 1996.

Florida is in the No. 2 spot with 22 percent of the respondents naming it as the state with having the most favorable business climate.

Respondents who named Florida mentioned the state’s pro-business environment, favorable tax climate and its strategic location.

Laura Pavlus



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