Life Sciences

‘Tremendous growth’ — Interview with St. Johns County Economic Development Director

With several master-planned communities under development and new retail quickly coming online, St. Johns County is in boom times.

To get a better look at what’s going on in the area, the Business Journal sat down with St. Johns County Director of Economic Development Melissa Glasgow.

You’ve been in your role for eight years now. How would you characterize St. Johns County’s economic growth since you began?

I think I’ve seen tremendous growth here and opportunity in St. Johns County. When I moved here in 2011, we were still coming out of the recession. Florida was hit very hard, but I think that St. Johns County has taken great strides to attract more businesses and commercial development to the area.

Which industries have you seen the most growth in?

We’ve seen a lot of interest in our professional services and corporate offices. Also, hospitality and tourism have been particularly hot.

A few hospitals, such as Baptist Health and Flagler Hospital, have recently decided to expand in St. Johns County. Why do you see this rapid expansion in that sector lately?

St. Johns County is a fast growing community. We’re adding between 8,000 and 10,000 residents per year. So medical service providers are seeing opportunity to greet a new audience.

What is the county doing to keep up with the growth?

We are embracing the growth, but we’re also looking at opportunities for sustainability, growing the county in the right way. We’re encouraging commercial development that will balance the residential growth.

Last year, for instance, when we looked at our impact fee schedule, we brought down commercial impact fees in order to encourage that activity here in St. Johns County.

What’s on your radar for the next five years?

I think we have significant opportunities in our master-planned developments, such as Durbin Park, Beachwalk, SilverLeaf, and at Northeast Florida Regional Airport for industrial opportunities. I see great potential for more corporate offices, professional services, advanced manufacturing and industrial development to complement what we already have here.