Rayonier’s Success Is Intertwined With Northeast Florida

Rayonier relocated their headquarters to Northeast Florida in 1999, but their roots in the region date back to the 1930s. During that time, they have continued to acquire and manage timberland, adapt and grow as their business model has evolved and embark on one of the largest community development projects in the United States.

“Relocating to the Jacksonville region provided us a lot of advantages and the quality of life is unmatched, but the more time we spent in the area we realized how much opportunity there was in Northeast Florida,” said Mike Bell, vice president of public affairs and communications at Rayonier.

In 2014, Rayonier divided its land resources business from its performance fibers business, creating two independent publicly traded companies “As Rayonier has evolved, we have always continued to look for ways to maximize the value of our land holdings,” added Bell. “Our commitment to sustainable forestry efforts has remained constant, but through that exploration, the idea for Wildlight was born.”

Wildlight is a 2,900-acre mixed-use, master-planned development in Nassau County near Yulee that aims to create a sustainable and vibrant community with a mix of housing options along with commercial and retail spaces. As Wildlight develops, it will also contain the largest land conservation easement in the history of Northeast Florida, a 12,000+ acre Conservation Habitat Network. Wildlight is now the home of Rayonier’s corporate headquarters.

“Fulfilling the full vision of Wildlight will take 75 to 100 years – that means 3-4 generations will take part in its development,” said Wes Hinton, vice president of Wildlight. “Nassau County is a great place to live and it’s only going to get better as we create a community that both attracts people to Northeast Florida and lets locals stay local by having close access to key services and retail. Creating this kind of community is an amazing opportunity for Rayonier and the region.”

As Rayonier looks toward the future, they are committed to being a great partner to the community, their customers and 400+ employees, and continuing to provide nature-based solutions across its footprint.

Suddath’s Start In Jacksonville Leads To Global Growth

The 100+ year history of Suddath has been filled with growth and transformation. From its inception as a moving company in the Jacksonville region to a global powerhouse in transportation, logistics and more, Suddath has evolved with the market and its customer needs and continues to drive innovative solutions through its historical strength as the largest commercial mover in the United States.

“The last 10 years have brought great change and growth for Suddath,” said Mike Brannigan, president and chief executive officer of Suddath. “Our strategy has been to look for ways we could build on our rich history and provide more offerings that help our customers with their efficiency and effectiveness. “That has allowed us to diversify what we do and where we do it.”

In the early days, Suddath focused primarily on local moving services, helping families and businesses in the Jacksonville region move their belongings and equipment. However, as the company grew and expanded, it began offering a wider range of transportation, logistics and project management services, including international moving, workplace solutions, warehousing and distribution and employee relocation. Today, the company has more than 2,000 employees, locations on three continents and serves customers in 180 countries worldwide.

Suddath’s base of operations in Jacksonville has continued to provide a significant strategic advantage for the organization and its clients. Northeast Florida’s prominence as a transportation and logistics center provides Suddath the global connectivity it needs to serve its clientele.

The Jacksonville region’s ability to create and retain talent is also important to Suddath. “Our partnerships with the local colleges and universities are critical to innovation and our ability to move up the value chain,” added Brannigan. “The University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Florida State College at Jacksonville all have programs that provide specifically trained talent to us because we help with programming and curriculums. That ability to work with them to build the talent we need accelerates development and their contribution to our goals.”

In addition to its moving and logistics services, Suddath is also committed to giving back to the communities it serves. The company has a long history of philanthropy, supporting a wide range of charitable causes and organizations in Jacksonville and beyond. Some of the organizations Suddath supports include Move For Hunger, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive, Truckers Against Trafficking and K9s For Warriors.

Suddath’s roadmap, now more than ever, is one of growth, innovation and dedication to its customers and communities around the world, but the Jacksonville region remains central to its success.

Johnson & Johnson Vision is Grounded and Growing in Jacksonville

What started in 1981 in Jacksonville as Frontier Contact Lenses has become a growth engine for one of the world’s most revered health care companies. Since then, Johnson & Johnson Vision which has its global headquarters based in Jacksonville has continued to innovate and prosper in the region to become what it is today – developing and manufacturing solutions which help to improve the sight for millions of people around the world.

Prior to its acquisition, Frontier had 150 employees in Northeast Florida. Today, more than 3,500 people work for Jacksonville’s Johnson & Johnson Vision campus. This growth has come through several expansion efforts over the years, including its most recent announcement of an incremental $200 million investment in its Deerwood Park headquarters.

Our people are truly excited about the cause of eye health. They are always learning and driving innovation, so we want to support those goals through investments in the business and in them professionally,” said Peter Menziuso, company group chairman of Johnson & Johnson Vision. “It’s a significant mission—2.2 billion people globally are vision impaired, and a lot of them have no eye care available. Our solutions are changing the world, and it is imperative that we have the best and brightest in our ranks.

A key dimension of Johnson & Johnson Vision’s hiring model is the integration of former military members. In fact, 75 percent of the company’s manufacturing team are current or former military personnel. “Veterans have the background, training and work ethic needed to drive us forward,” added Menziuso. “Recruiting people from the military is a critical part of our talent strategy because of our highly specialized and technical needs—another reason why Jacksonville is a strategic fit for us.” Each year, there are approximately 3,000 military separations who choose to remain in the Jacksonville region.

Another strategic advantage for Johnson & Johnson Vision is Jacksonville’s position as a logistics and transportation center. The region’s deep-water ports, interconnecting interstates, railroad spurs and international airport system provides them with a global reach right from their manufacturing facilities. This provides both speed to market and built-in efficiencies that are virtually unmatched by the competition.

Technical secondary education in the area is an advantage as well. Johnson & Johnson Vision regularly recruits from the region’s colleges and universities, including University of North Florida and nearby top 20 public universities, the University of Florida and Florida State University. The company also helps develop programs and curriculums that prepare the future workforce for roles within the organization. That—coupled with a strong commitment to giving back to the community—has created a critical partnership between the company and the city they call home.

From their start in San Marco to producing 1.7 billion contact lenses annually, Johnson & Johnson Vision is a catalyst for growth in the Jacksonville area and the leader in the future of vision care around the world.

Deutsche Bank Supports Global Clients from Jacksonville Hub

With trillions in assets across the world, Deutsche Bank is truly a financial powerhouse. What you may not know is that a key part of their global operation resides in the Jacksonville region and has for more than 15 years.

Deutsche Bank’s presence in Northeast Florida dates back to 2008 and originally planned for a few hundred roles across operations, investment banking and IT support. Today, there are more than 2,000 employees in the Jacksonville region and the functional support has expanded to include Investment Bank, Corporate Bank, Private Bank, Research, a suite of Operations and Technology functions, Compliance, Anti-Financial Crime, Finance, Audit, Legal, Risk Management and Human Resources.

“Jacksonville provided the opportunity to grow our talent pool in a way that was cost efficient, but cost wasn’t the sole driving factor,” said Brian Fay, Americas head of operations and managing director for Deutsche Bank Jacksonville. “We realized quickly that we didn’t have to keep jobs in New York to get the level of talent and experience we needed to support and grow our business. Deutsche Bank has a lot of complex roles and it’s incredibly helpful to have people in Jacksonville with the appropriate skill sets.”

Jacksonville has been a great place to grow on several different levels,” added Nader Jarun, Deutsche Bank’s chief of staff for Jacksonville. “Not only are we able to find the talent we need for our functions here, but our colleagues in other U.S. locations, and around the world, are looking to the Jacksonville site as a place to compliment the bank’s strategy, foster employee career growth and enable our employees to maintain a better quality of life. That kind of career mobility is something on which we pride ourselves.

The growth of Deutsche Bank has been helped by the continued rise of the financial services sector in the Jacksonville region. With more than 64,800 employees, the industry is one of the largest employers in the area and regularly sees new companies and fresh talent arrive almost daily. “It’s great for Deutsche Bank to be in a location where so many leaders in financial services reside,” said Fay. “Yes, we all do compete for talent, but that pushes us all to be better and to differentiate ourselves.”

As for the future of Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville, it will remain a focal point of their regional strategy. “We will always look for ways to build synergies based on our scale here,” said Fay. “Plus, we want to continue to give back to a community that has done so much for us. Since we don’t have retail branches in Jacksonville like some of our competitors, our involvement and support in the region helps generate a #positiveimpact with our community partners and clients as well as increase the awareness of the DB brand. We’re excited about where we are going as a bank and Jacksonville will remain an integral part of our plans.”

Republican National Convention Showcases Jacksonville’s “Open For Business” Mentality

Preparations are underway in the Jacksonville region for the 2020 Republican National Convention. Jacksonville was selected to host the celebratory aspects of the convention, highlighted by President Donald Trump’s acceptance of the party’s nomination in Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

The convention is estimated to have an economic impact of $100 million, but it will show value to the region long after the convention is gone. Tens of thousands of people from across the country will not only have the opportunity to experience Northeast Florida’s quality of life, business-friendly environment and talent-rich workforce but see the Jacksonville region as a viable destination for business growth and expansion.

The RNC mentioned Jacksonville’s strong interest in hosting the convention and willingness to support an event of this scale as key determinants in their selection process. Jacksonville was the first city to host a major sporting event since the start of the pandemic – UFC 249 in May – which brought to the forefront the region’s ability to move quickly and support high impact events.

With a seven-county region and an infrastructure able to support the influx of visitors, Jacksonville is well suited to play host to one of the key events on this year’s political calendar. To date, city officials have secured more than 10,000 hotel rooms across the Jacksonville metropolitan area and are coordinating with lodging, event and entertainment properties throughout Northeast Florida.

Even with the influx of people to the region for the event, Jacksonville is prepared to provide a safe environment for both visitors and convention participants. As one of the first areas in the country to open back up safely, Jacksonville is well on pace in its return to normal.

The selection of Jacksonville as a host city for the Republican National Convention shows that Jacksonville is open for business and dedicated to helping organizations of all shapes and sizes move forward.

JAXUSA Leads Business Recruitment Efforts in United Kingdom

A delegation comprised of Jacksonville city officials, business leaders and staff from JAXUSA Partnership and JAX Chamber is embarking on the 7th annual economic development mission to the United Kingdom.

The mission will further strengthen Jacksonville’s international ties and increase economic development prospects and relationships. It coincides with the annual home game for the Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembley Stadium on Nov. 3.

During the trade mission, the team will tour facilities and meet with companies in the financial services/fintech, logistics, maritime and IT & innovation sectors. These industries continue to be targets for the Jacksonville region due to our available skilled talent, infrastructure and competitive business structure.

The delegation will build on Jacksonville’s growing fintech reputation through its new partnership with Innovate Finance, an association that serves as the connection and hub of the UK’s global fintech community, by learning additional ways to connect, collaborate and work closer with UK fintech companies.

A recent success in Jacksonville’s fintech industry includes the acquisition of UK-based WorldPay by Jacksonville-based fintech firm FIS, a Fortune 500 company and the largest fintech company in the world based on revenue and a leader in payment processing, financial software and banking solutions.

London has become a second home for the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team has had a presence in the United Kingdom since 2013, playing a home game in Wembley Stadium annually. Both Jaguars owner Shad Khan and the City of Jacksonville are committed to the UK for economic development growth opportunities.

Financial Talent Pool Reaffirms Macquarie’s Decision on Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s reputation as an international banking and financial powerhouse is growing as more companies seek the area’s lower cost of living compared to traditional markets and the more than 60,000 – and growing – employees that work in the region’s financial services industry.

Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO of Australian-based Macquarie Group, one of the region’s leading financial services companies, recently toured Jacksonville’s global office to showcase the company’s expanded operations. She was a member of Macquarie’s executive committee in 2015 that decided to establish a global financial services office in Jacksonville due to the city’s strong financial services presence and available talent pool.

Macquarie has been so impressed with the Northeast Florida workforce that the company has expanded well beyond its initial agreement with the city to create 123 jobs.

Now, the office has grown to more than 270 employees, growing by 38 percent in the past year alone, with 85 percent of the workers hired locally. The company has hired graduates from the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University and offered internships to students. It is also working with the institutions on workforce development programs.

Although most of the employees were hired locally, the company proudly displays a global map with pins showing the workers came to Jacksonville from 27 countries.

“It’s a very diverse workforce,” said Wikramanayake, who said 58 percent of the top-level managers in the Jacksonville office are female and a majority of the staff are women.

Besides the quality of the labor pool, Wikramanayake said other factors influencing Macquarie’s decision to open the office included the region’s attractive lifestyle and that “it was in the right time zone” to support the company’s operations.

Macquarie has 2,800 U.S. employees in 22 locations, and it expects to continue to expand the Jacksonville office. Since opening with finance functions, the Jacksonville office has added staff for other operations including risk management, human resources and information technology.

For more information, read the article in Jacksonville Daily Record.

Growth in Jacksonville’s FTZ No. 64 Benefits More Businesses with International Ties

Jacksonville FTZ 64

By John Freeman

Tariffs represent a hot topic in America’s business community, and many are wondering if Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) status can positively impact the national tariffs’ effects on business. It’s an issue that’s being closely watched.

In some cases, like tariffs on steel and aluminum, the final product is not subject to additional duties beyond those assessed on the imported materials. In other instances, such as the prospective tariffs on Chinese imports, additional tariffs could be assessed on items manufactured in an FTZ because of the way the trade action is written.

The National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones (NAFTZ) is advocating to manage tariffs in a way that would mitigate additional duties for FTZ stakeholders and keep U.S. companies globally competitive. A 2018 NAFTZ study concluded FTZs have a positive impact on employment growth, wage growth and value-added growth in the American communities in which they are located, compared to similar communities without FTZs.

Ironically, the creation of FTZs came in response to tariffs. In the 1930s, the Smoot-Hawley Act put large tariffs or taxes on imports to the United States. While the U.S. lawmakers, Sen. Reed Smoot and Rep. Willis Hawley, had good intentions and wanted to protect American manufacturers from a flood of foreign goods, most economists believe it made the Great Depression even worse.

For those involved in international trade, FTZs offer many economic benefits. They can save companies millions of dollars and strengthen their global competitiveness. As FTZs are essentially the U.S. version of free-trade zones, benefiting companies can bring imported merchandise into an FTZ-approved facility without paying duties and taxes since it is legally outside of U.S. Customs’ territory. These costs are not due until the product leaves the facility and enters the U.S. market, increasing cash flow and giving companies more flexibility.

If a product is exported directly from an FTZ, these goods may be re-exported without paying duties and with substantially lower customs fees. Companies within the FTZ may also benefit financially from the Merchandise Processing Fee savings weekly filings of customs entries, as opposed to being daily filings as required outside of the foreign trade zone.

In Jacksonville, Florida, FTZ No. 64 is an important part of the local economy. With the recent addition of Flagler County, FTZ No. 64 encompasses nine Northeast Florida counties including all seven counties within JAXUSA Partnership’s region. Of the 21 foreign trade zones in Florida, FTZ No. 64 is the largest in the state extending more than 5,000 square miles and more than 130 million square feet of distribution center and warehousing space within close proximity to JAXPORT.

JAXPORT serves as the administrating agency for all users within FTZ No.64, which operates under the alternative site framework, which can cut a lot of red tape and has less acreage restrictions.

Alternative site framework reduces the approval time, which can save a company money since they will be able to access the savings associated with an FTZ sooner. Storage and distribution sites can be approved as quickly as within 30 days; manufacturing and processing plants can be approved within 120 days or less.

Some of the best industrial land sites are available within FTZ No. 64. Importing and exporting companies that have benefitted from Jacksonville’s FTZ include APR Energy, Bacardi Bottling Corp. and Suddath, among others.

While an FTZ has the potential to save companies a lot of money on duties and fees, there are costs associated with applying for and running an FTZ. It’s not right for every business, therefore a cost/benefit analysis is needed to determine the return on investment.

The first step for companies interested in accessing FTZ No. 64 is to reach out to JAXPORT. As administrator of FTZ No. 64, JAXPORT has a dedicated FTZ administrator and a team with more than 15 years of experience working with FTZ processes. The port’s team provides the advantage of working with an experienced consultant who is available to answer questions and advise companies on whether an FTZ is a good fit.

International trade is a powerful driver of economic growth in Northeast Florida and businesses can enjoy immense benefits in an FTZ. Some have reduced their expenses by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Companies also can move goods more easily, generating additional revenue and profit, adding to their competitive advantage.

John Freeman is Director, Business Development and Global Cities Initiative for JAXUSA Partnership, the Jacksonville regional economic development agency for the seven counties of Northeast Florida.

Winning on Business Recruitment

Positive momentum in the recruitment of worldwide businesses is occurring in Jacksonville. More and more companies are discovering our region’s distinguishing strengths and assets that enable their operations to grow and be successful.

In a recent article, JAXUSA Partnership President Aundra Wallace highlighted a few of the characteristics and aspects that attract companies to our area as they discover Jacksonville is an ideal location for relocation or expansion.

All target industries are experiencing growth, but especially our IT & innovation career fields, particularly those areas related to data security and analytics. Companies and workers value our low labor costs, low cost of living and access to a skilled talent pool graduating from the region’s renowned K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning, validating Jacksonville’s recent recognition of being named a Top 10 Emerging Tech City by Site Selection Group.

In the interview, Wallace pinpoints JAXPORT, one of the fastest-growing ports in the country, as a major economic attractor for companies, particularly in the manufacturing and transportation/logistics sectors. E-commerce company Wayfair broke ground on a Jacksonville distribution center earlier this year with the intent to utilize the port for its global shipping and distribution capabilities.

Wallace also shared how international businesses have strong interest in our region, especially when companies participate in foreign direct investment in the area. Our Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) spans the entire seven-county region and helps companies doing business internationally reduce the cost of operations and function more efficiently. Our FTZ is the largest of Florida’s 21 FTZs based on a combined value of import/export trade.

Our skilled workforce and talent pipeline further contribute to the attractiveness of our area and entice potential company interest.

Assets and Talent Make Jacksonville Ideal Destination for Aviation and Aerospace

Airplane at JAX

By Aaron Bowman

Half a century ago, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and astronaut Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Fifty years later, space exploration in the United States is alive and well. Suborbital tourist flights and astronauts flying to the International Space Station are among the aerospace and defense milestones to look forward to in 2019, according to Aviation Week Network.

Jacksonville Advantage

Jacksonville – home to the only licensed commercial spaceport on the East Coast – is a leader in the aviation and aerospace industries, one of the region’s sectors for growth and innovation. From my professional experience, I’ve seen unprecedented growth in these industries throughout Florida, but especially in Jacksonville.

Take a look at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) – 2018’s fastest-growing airport in North America. In March of this year, more passengers flew though JAX than any month in the airport’s 50-year history. The airport, which has grown year-over-year passenger traffic for the last year and a half, is in the process of expanding to meet this growing demand.

In addition to the record-breaking growth at JAX, another airport in Jacksonville Aviation Authority’s diversified airport system is considered a crown jewel for aeronautical, manufacturing and logistics business – Cecil Airport.

Cecil is a former military training facility and Navy Master JetBase. It is equipped with four runways including Florida’s third-longest runway at 12,500 feet and is home to Cecil Spaceport, one of eight spaceports in the United States approved for horizontal launches. The Cecil Spaceport control center, which will be housed at the airport’s air traffic control tower, will give operators the ability to track and remotely collect data from their spacecraft.

Though there have been few horizontal launches in the country so far, that’s likely to change in the near future. Potential operators include Virgin Galactic, Generation Orbit, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, among others, with capabilities of long-range flights that would span the other side of the globe in half the time of a typical commercial flight.

With Cecil’s long runways, ability to accommodate horizontal launch operators and hundreds of developable acres of land with runway access, Cecil Airport provides fertile ground for aerospace businesses to grow.

Cecil Airport at Cecil Commerce Center is currently home to a wide variety of aerospace industry leaders including Boeing, Flightstar Aircraft Services, Inc., Navy Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, LSI and more. Florida State College at Jacksonville’s (FSCJ) Aviation Center of Excellence which offers workforce training is also based at Cecil Commerce Center.

Defining Talent

Cecil Airport is a significant contributor to the region’s economy with an impact of almost $3 billion annually and 11,000 jobs. Jacksonville’s manufacturing base and logistical advantage positions the region well for the space industry.

Aviation and aerospace industries are hiring at all levels throughout the Southeast. In Florida, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a 5 percent growth for aircraft mechanic and technical careers, and more than 12,000 new technical job openings in the next decade.

Nothing is more important to a company’s success than its workforce and Jacksonville offers a unparalled talent pipeline to meet the demands of the aviation and aerospace industry. The region’s four military installations provide a skilled, highly-trained workforce with the knowledge to staff technical and engineering positions. More than 3,000 personnel who leave the military each year choose to remain in Northeast Florida, providing a stream of diligent employees for local businesses.

Florida’s universities are among the nation’s top producers of STEM graduates, including many specializing in the industry. In addition to FSCJ and its Aviation Center of Excellence at Cecil Commerce Center, other aviation education programs in and near Jacksonville include University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, University of Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and area high school aviation career academies.

Jacksonville represents the best in manufacturing, technology and innovation, and offers the business community and quality of life that companies and their employees need to thrive. There is a growing recognition among aerospace and aviation industry leaders that Jacksonville offers the assets that will help their businesses soar.

Aaron Bowman is senior vice president of business development for JAXUSA Partnership, the Jacksonville regional economic development agency for the seven counties of Northeast Florida.