The recent round of funding awards through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund show Northeast Florida as a big winner. The most recent announcement made by Florida Gov. Rick Scott yesterday awarded funds totaling nearly $4.4 million to three projects located in the JAX region that will enhance job training and infrastructure in our state. The projects include:
- Baker County ($2,297,054) to create an access road to the Woodstock Industrial Park for advanced manufacturing and distribution projects.
- St. Johns River State College ($1,383,237) to expand an advanced manufacturing and robotics training program that will support local manufacturing training, economic development and job growth for Clay, Putnam and St. Johns Counties.
- Florida State College at Jacksonville ($710,352) to enhance the Northeast Florida Advanced Manufacturing & Logistic Job Growth program, which collaborates with more than 300 employers in the high-growth industries of advanced manufacturing and logistics.
This news joins the February announcement of $6 million from the fund to help construct a 1.5 mile long road within the Cecil Commerce Center. That grant will make it possible to develop access to a megasite primed for a large-scale manufacturing operation to the northern part of the complex with the potential to bring a substantial number of jobs and investment once complete.
Grants are reviewed by the Department of Economic Opportunity and Enterprise Florida and awarded based on strong investment returns in improving infrastructure and enhancing workforce training. More than 245 proposals totaling $866 million in funding were submitted to be considered. With yesterday’s announcement, 27 projects totaling $70 million in funding have been selected.
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-based malt beverage distributor, Champion Brands, broke ground this morning at the site of their new corporate headquarters on Jacksonville’s Southside. The new headquarters, which will be completed in February 2019, will be 38,000 square feet – nearly five times the size of its current space. The current headquarter location will be demolished and replaced with a 40,000 square-foot warehouse.
The distributor of brands like Coors, Red Bull, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Abita and others is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint. In 2015, Champion Brands opened the first public compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Jacksonville and began converting its fleet to CNG trucks. Two years later, it installed the largest solar panel system in the city, receiving 20 percent of its power from 340 photovoltaic roof panels.
The new location will continue with Champion Brands’ dedication to being green. Solar panels will be added to the roof of the new facility and, with 95 percent of CNG trucks in the company’s fleet currently, the goal is to be at 100 percent by next year.
Champion Brands’ CEO Earl Benton is focused on the company’s future and Jacksonville. “We’re excited to be a part of Jacksonville’s continued growth,” said Benton. Founded in 1985, Champion Brands has more than 300 employees, handles 1,500 products and more than 60 suppliers worldwide.
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.”