Flagler County sits in economic ‘sweet spot’

The Daytona Beach News-Journal sits down with JAXUSA Partnership President Jerry Mallot to discuss Flagler County’s economic opportunity.

With the U.S. economy showing more signs of sustainable growth and a tax reform package set to energize business development, the outlook for economic growth in the Sunshine State is bright. Beyond local efforts, Flagler County is also a member of the JAXUSA Partnership, a group of seven Northeast Florida counties aligned to promote development in the region. For a look at what this means for economic development here and in the region, Jerry Mallot, JAXUSA president, offers the local spin.

What are the implications of tax reform for the regional economy?

It gives us a competitive advantage beyond what we have had in the past. There are a number of folks who are going to see our lack of an income tax as more of a spur then they did before since they lost deductibility in a number of states around the country. I think that might be particularly true for businesses that are family owned but I don’t think it will stop there. I just think it gives us another edge. We still have to be competitive in what we do but now we have an added advantage.

Infrastructure is getting a lot of attention in Washington D.C. right now. What are the pressing needs in northeast Florida?

There are always needs but I would tell you that northeast Florida has been able to attract four or five billion dollars worth of road development funds from state and federal sources over the last few years. That allows us to get ahead of the work. We’ve seen a lot of construction on Interstate 95 and other projects so we’re in much better shape, frankly, than most places in the country. We will always have needs, but I think the biggest challenges in infrastructure are in the northern part of the country.

How does Flagler County fit into the northeast Florida region economically?

Flagler has a unique role. It is very new in a lot of respects. It has a huge quality of life in the developments along the ocean and even west of 95. It’s kind of a very bright spot and has a great reputation, so I think that’s some of the things that make it unique and interesting. What we need more of in Flagler is available existing buildings and that is not an easy thing to do because somebody has to take the risk. But I think Flagler is quite well positioned and not just in its relationship north up to Jacksonville but south to Daytona and over to Orlando. It’s a sweet spot.

What is your outlook for the region?

I think it’s very good. I don’t see any clouds ahead. I listened to an economist the other day who said whether we like it or not sometimes there needs to be a recession, but he can’t see any reason why it would occur anytime in the near future.