I specialize in financial services and work directly with companies to showcase the region to attract jobs and capital investment. I also lead our regional strategic planning efforts and oversee our marketing, research and investor relations teams.
I stumbled into economic development through an internship while I was in college in Hamilton, Ohio. It’s been just over 23 years. I moved here 16 years ago and met this guy named Jerry Mallot (the retiring president of JAXUSA Partnership) and I’ve been at the Jacksonville chamber ever since.
I love showcasing the region to someone who’s never been here or thinks they know Jacksonville but really don’t. Just watching them be amazed by what they didn’t know about Jacksonville is the best part.
Everything’s driven by talent these days, so a lot of our research and time is spent really digging into a project and understanding what they’re looking for and demonstrating that we have the capacity to meet that need. The way we shine is by introducing them to companies that are successful. They may not be direct competitors but at least are similar so they can relate to their experiences.
Although we promote the entire Northeast Florida region, Downtown is our showpiece. That experience of being able to bring people Downtown and have them feel the vibrancy that we all so want for Downtown will be a turning point for the whole region.
There are some great people stepping forward to make investments Downtown that are already familiar with the area. When we hit the radar of investors from the outside, that’s the turning point.
I have two teenage boys. My fun involves a lot of attending their lacrosse and basketball games in various gyms and fields across the region. We love to travel, so every year I take them on what I call an “epic trip.” We went to Breckenridge this year – I went skiing, they went snowboarding. We’ve gone on cruises, to New York, D.C. We’re working on the next plans. We have fun planning together.
I try to read, that’s my quiet time. I don’t have one favorite author. I have a book club. I read books about interesting people whose lives are nothing like mine.
My parents live a couple of miles from me. They moved down from St. Louis about seven or eight years ago. That’s been great. I wanted to be a teacher at first – my mom was a teacher and guidance counselor – and then I moved on. When I went to college I wanted to go to law school. I could have found a very interesting law path, I’m sure.
Law school would have been great, but looking at the hours and the lifestyle, this has been a lot more fun. What I love about this work is no two days are ever the same, and no two companies are ever the same, and no projects are ever the same. The variety and the people are what make it so special. So far, I’m having fun. As long as I’m having fun, I’m going to stick with this.
About Cathy Chambers
Title: Senior vice president, Strategy & Business Development
Organization: JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development division of the JAX Chamber
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Public Administration, Miami University, Ohio; MBA, Xavier University;
Family: Sons Luke, 14, and Nathan, 12, and dog Kobe
Hometown: St. Louis
Hobbies: Travel, reading
Cathy Chambers, JAXUSA Partnership senior vice president of strategy and business development, was honored with the prestigious Eunice Sullivan Economic Development Professional of the Year Award at the 2018 Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) Annual Conference on Tuesday. The award is given to one professional each year who exemplifies outstanding dedication and commitment to the field of economic development in the state.
The FEDC recognized Chambers as a leader of business development success and advocacy for the profession, the region and women in the field. During her tenure at JAXUSA Partnership, Chambers spearheaded efforts to attract more than 13,000 jobs and capital investment to the Northeast Florida region, including significant projects such as Deutsche Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Macquarie Group, EY, Fidelity Investments and Adecco, among others.
“Cathy is a highly respected voice for economic development in the Northeast Florida region and the state,” said Jerry Mallot, president of JAXUSA Partnership and 1997 recipient of the Eunice Sullivan Award. “Many business decision makers and site consultants have recounted that they are drawn to the region because of Cathy’s professionalism, credibility and knowledge. She consistently impresses our clients resulting in their investment in the region which is good, not only for them, but also for our community.”
Chambers joined JAXUSA Partnership in 2002, serving in various roles until she was promoted to her current position in 2012. In this position, Chambers also oversees strategic planning, consultant relationship management, marketing strategy and partner relations.
About JAXUSA Partnership
JAXUSA Partnership, a division of JAX Chamber, is Northeast Florida’s regional economic development organization. Working with economic development partners in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns Counties; the independent authorities of JAXPORT, JAA, JEA and JTA; CareerSource Northeast Florida; and private-sector investors, JAXUSA Partnership markets the Northeast Florida region to recruit new companies and expand existing business to increase high-wage job growth, private capital investment and talent attraction.
Over the first five months of 2018, Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) has been in the news. Earlier this year, JIA announced its accolade of being ranked North America’s #1 airport for customer service according to customer surveys conducted by Airports Council International for the second year in a row; followed by news of two new nonstop flights on Allegiant to previously unrepresented cities of Louisville, Ky. and Norfolk, Va.; and the most recent announcement of six new destinations to be served by Frontier Airlines according to Jacksonville Business Journal five of which are new destinations for JIA.
Ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) are not the only airlines expanding at JIA. Southwest recently invested in a new route to Fort Lauderdale and United service to Denver began in April. The airlift schedule for June represents a substantial increase in service over 2017 with a 17.3 percent YOY growth in flights and 15.8 percent in seats. This is good news for the JAX region, its residents and businesses.
Once today’s announced flights begin service in August, travel to 40 different airports in North America can be reached nonstop to/from Jacksonville. Those cities are:
- Chicago (O’Hare and Midway)
- Dallas (Dallas-Fort Worth and Dallas Love)
- Fort Lauderdale
- Houston (George Bush Intercontinental and Houston Hobby)
- Kansas City
- Las Vegas
- Marsh Harbour, Bahamas
- New York (JFK and LaGuardia)
- St. Louis (Lambert and Belleville)
- Washington, DC (Dulles and Reagan)
Karen Brune Mathis speaks with JAXUSA Partnership President Jerry Mallot on First Coast Connect to reflect on his 24-year tenure as the leader of economic development in Northeast Florida. In the segment, Jerry talks about highlights in his career, challenges and what sets us apart.
Whether its the biggest deals of Fidelity National Financial, which as Jerry states was the most impactful with community investment, high-wage jobs and stature (950 jobs and $93 million in capital investment) or Amazon with the largest number of jobs at what will be 5,000 jobs for Northeast Florida workers, Jerry credits a smart and manageable growth plan that has kept our economy vibrant, people employed and our tax base thriving.
Jacksonville is the top U.S. relocation city for financial institutions as more and more banks cutting finance jobs on Wall Street. Known as nearshoring, the practice involves banks that move their operations away from expensive financial centers to more affordable and business-friendly locations, like Northeast Florida.
According to an article in Jacksonville Business Journal , the majority of these jobs are in areas such as cybersecurity, payment processing, record maintenance and regulatory compliance. Site consultant John Boyd of The Boyd Company says that Jacksonville’s lower real estate cost per square foot, less expensive labor costs due to lower cost of living, low tax rate, large financial services talent pool and competitive incentives, positions the region as an attractive and more profitable location for banks.
That, coupled with recent legislation which increases certain bank regulations to only apply to banks with greater than $250 billion in assets, allows banks with $50 billion in assets to experience growth. This tier of banks previously had to comply with those regulations.
In the last five years, Jacksonville has experience phenomenal growth in the financial services industry welcoming or expanding institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Macquarie, EY and Fidelity Investments and nearly 4,000 new jobs.
Jacksonville has been on the financial radar for some time as evidenced recently by Bloomberg BusinessWeek as well.
Jerry Mallot announced today that he will retire from his roles as President of JAXUSA Partnership and Executive Vice President of JAX Chamber. Mallot’s retirement is effective Sept. 1.
Mallot, 70, joined the Chamber in 1994, recruited to lead a regional economic development organization in Northeast Florida, known at the time as Cornerstone.
“This is truly the best city and region in the country to live and to do business – and that certainly helps when you’re bringing top companies to the region,” Mallot said.
Some of the biggest economic development deals in Mallot’s tenure include recruiting Fidelity National Financial in 2003 to move its headquarters to Jacksonville from California; attracting Deutsche Bank to create 1,000 jobs that have turned into more than 2,000 and luring four different Amazon facilities that will employ more than 5,000 people.
“Our economy is thriving and poised for even more growth because of the work Jerry and his team have done here for the past two decades,” said Jacksonville University President Tim Cost, who serves as chair of JAXUSA Partnership.
“The investment he’s helped attract to our city is remarkable,” said JAX Chamber Chair John Peyton, who served as Jacksonville’s mayor from 2003-11 and worked with Mallot on several high-profile projects. “Jerry is so incredibly skilled at finding ways to get a deal done, it’s been a privilege to work with him over the years.”
A local committee of current and past volunteer leaders of JAX Chamber and JAXUSA Partnership will work with a search firm to vet and interview candidates. Serving on the local committee are:
- Tim Cost
- John Peyton, President of GATE Petroleum
- Daniel Davis, JAX Chamber President and CEO
- Kelly Madden, Head of Commercial Banking for Florida for Wells Fargo, Past Chair of both JAX Chamber and JAXUSA Partnership
- Darnell Smith, North Florida Market President for Florida Blue and Past Chair of JAX Chamber
Davis will begin a “Listening Tour” with JAXUSA Partnership investors and regional partners to hear qualities they think are important to the next president.
“You’re not going to be able to really replace a leader like Jerry Mallot – he’s done so much for our community,” Davis said. “We have talented, engaged investors and partners we will lean on as we make this important decision.”
The next JAXUSA President is expected to be hired this summer.
Mallot is regarded as one of the top economic developers in the country and has been named Economic Developer of the Year in both Florida and Kansas, where he worked for 17 years, the last four as president of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.
He is a past chair of Leadership Jacksonville and Community Connections of Jacksonville.
“It’s amazing to look around at different projects and see how far we’ve come,” Mallot said. “We have so much momentum here and I look forward to seeing it continue.”