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.