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.

City of Jacksonville and University of Florida Partnership Will Bring New Graduate Campus

Today, University of Florida (UF) and the city of Jacksonville pledged their commitment to explore creating a new graduate campus in downtown Jacksonville focused on the introduction of innovative programs in medicine, business and engineering.

The proposed campus would provide new graduate education programs aimed at supporting the region’s growing workforce in biomedical technology and focused on pioneering technology related to simulation, health applications of artificial intelligence, patient quality and safety, health care administration and fintech. The plan would include both classroom space and residences.

“We are excited about the possibility of hosting this University of Florida expansion to foster opportunity, a talent pipeline, and further grow our region’s industry, said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

The Jacksonville region has become a leader in financial technology and health care innovation. Recent headquarters announcements from fintechs Paysafe and Dun & Bradstreet will add a combined 1,100+jobs to the region’s already existing financial services and IT workforce of 64,800+ strong.

And with one of the largest and most innovative health care ecosystems in the nation, Northeast Florida is a center for medical breakthroughs and advanced leadership as displayed during the inaugural medical innovation summit held last year.

Although UF has had long-standing specialty and subspecialty graduate medical education programs at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, the plans call for bringing revolutionary approaches to training the health care professionals of tomorrow to the local Jacksonville area, including a regional UF Health campus.

This comes on the heels of the recent announcement of a merger between UF Health at Jacksonville and Flagler Health+, expanding the former’s presence to the region’s southern quadrant.

As a part of the next steps in this partnership, Curry announced intentions to bring a three-year, $50 million proposal to the Jacksonville City Council. UF and community leaders will seek an additional $50 million in private support.

“We’re excited to grow our historic partnership with Jacksonville through exploring what we envision as a new campus designed for the strengths of this unique city,” said Mori Hosseini, chair of the UF Board of Trustees. “We’re confident we can create incredible synergies by joining UF’s strengths as a top-five public flagship university with Jacksonville’s rising stature as national health care and technology hub.”

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.”

Jacksonville Top 15 Best City for Women in Tech

The Jacksonville Region is Committed to Developing Tomorrow’s Workforce

The availability of talent is among the most important components of a company’s decision to relocate or expand. That not only includes the current roster of talent but how the area is growing the pool of qualified workers who will make up the next generation.

With the commitment to developing talent from Florida’s K-12 school districts and postsecondary institutions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared September as Workforce Development Month in Florida. This recognition celebrates the progress made towards strengthening workforce education opportunities for Floridians and aims to make the state best in the nation for workforce education by 2030. As such, since 2019, Florida has invested more than $5 billion in workforce education initiatives, and Northeast Florida is devoted to developing the next generation workforce by creating structures and programs that are tied into its target industries and high-growth areas.

Leading the way in that endeavor is Earn Up, JAXUSA’s workforce development initiative. The “Invest in Your Future” program pairs the region’s companies with students, adult learners and veterans to provide a variety of real-world job experiences, including internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing, mentoring and more. Ascension St. Vincent’s, Collins Aerospace, Florida Blue and CSX are among the companies who are already partnering with the initiative. The work-based learning activities are invaluable for the companies to build homegrown talent with skills needed for mutual success and the individuals they may employ with a better understanding of the opportunities available in the region.

Post-secondary institutions in the Jacksonville region also continue to invest in curriculum that drives college students to be well prepared for the area’s target industries of advanced manufacturing, advanced transportation and logistics, health and biomedical, financial services and IT and innovation. Examples include:

  • The University of North Florida (UNF) chemistry department recently unveiled a new addition and renovation totaling 20,000 square feet of space, labs and study areas and a partnership with Johnson & Johnson Vision to invest in a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer and support for summer research programs.
  • Florida State College at Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College launched the Northeast Florida Fintech Initiative after being awarded a $3.6 million grant to create a training program to develop the highly skilled workers needed for the growing fintech sector.
  • Jacksonville University (JU) has one of the country’s best aviation programs with specialties available in aviation management and flight operations, airport management, airline management and air traffic control. JU is one of 36 universities in the nation selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to educate future air traffic controllers under the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI).
  • Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corporation, a leader in logistics, marine and energy solutions, donated $2.5 million to UNF for the creation and operation of the Crowley Center for Transportation and Logistics. This center of excellence will establish a commitment to the growth and development of skilled, talented students in transportation and logistics.

The Jacksonville region is also unique in that it has several leading universities within 250-miles of the region, including University of Florida (UF), Florida State University (FSU), Florida A&M University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, University of Central Florida, Keiser University and Georgia Southern University. UF and FSU were recently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the nation.

Couple this with the influx of new residents to the Jacksonville region and Northeast Florida is positioned to be a significant talent hub in the Southeast now and for years to come.

Spotlight on Northeast Florida as Region is Featured in Florida Trend

The January 2022 issue of state business and policy publication Florida Trend features an in-depth look at the positive momentum taking place in the seven-county Jacksonville region in its “Jacksonville & Northeast Florida” regional economic profile.

The 26-page section highlights the region’s transportation infrastructure, industries, health care, education and development, showing that the region’s growth is not just in the here and now, but sustainable for the future. Read more…

Crowley Center for Transportation and Logistics Established at University of North Florida

Jacksonville continues to add to its reputation as America’s Logistics Center.

Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corporation, a leader in logistics, marine and energy solutions, donated $2.5 million to the University of North Florida (UNF) for the creation and operation of the Crowley Center for Transportation and Logistics (CCTL). This center of excellence will establish a commitment to the growth and development of skilled, talented students in transportation and logistics, an industry that is growing at a rapid pace in the Jacksonville region.

The endowment will help fund the CCTL operations and leadership, faculty support, visiting scholars, pertinent industry research, pursuit of federally funded grants and contracts, student recruitment in the areas of transportation, logistics and data analytics, and curriculum.

The center will be housed in the UNF Coggin College of Business of which the transportation and logistics program is considered among the best in the nation due to an active and supportive regional professional community and a high-tech Logistics IT Solutions Lab for students to learn about supply chain tools and solutions.

“This donation represents a strategic investment in our industry’s future – the talent and knowledge our leaders of tomorrow and the research needed to propel our industry forward successfully,” said Tom Crowley, the company’s chairman and CEO.

Developing home-grown skilled logistics talent is of the utmost importance now and will be in the future as our region continues to attract and expand business in this industry. With JAXPORT’s and Port of Fernandina’s steadfast growth and the presence of three major interstates, the Jacksonville region has seen an expansion of logistics, distribution and e-commerce over the last several years, including the most recent announcement of American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group’s headquarters relocation to Ponte Vedra Beach in June.

In recent months, the region has also announced new and expanding logistics and distribution centers, including:

  • The Kroger Company – the national grocery chain is adding 180 new jobs at a cross-dock distribution facility to support its refrigerated e-commerce delivery.
  • FlexCold – cold storage company building a temperature-controlled facility to serve meat protein exporters adding 20 new jobs and $47.3 million in capital investment.
  • FedEx Ground – expansion of long-time third-party logistics facility in Jacksonville adding 125 jobs and $10 million in capital investment on parking lot expansion for increased operations.

These announcements and future logistics and distribution companies will benefit from the targeted curriculum and training established through the CCTL.

“Crowley Maritime’s gift to establish this center is not only important for the Coggin College and UNF but is a major investment in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida,” said Richard Buttimer, dean of UNF’s Coggin College of Business. “This center will train future generations of transportation, logistics and supply chain leaders to ensure that Jacksonville has a world-class pool of talent and leadership for this vital industry.”

A Search For A New Food Service Headquarters Lands in Northeast Florida

Comarco Products, a long-standing leader in the food service industry, struggled with their ability to grow their operation from their headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. After years of dealing with remediation issues and burdening taxes, Comarco made the decision to relocate and ultimately settled on Palatka in Putnam County.

“It was a tough decision to leave our home of 32 years, but we knew we needed to move,” said Tom Hoversen, president of Comarco Products. “Our plant was showing signs of age and it was impossible to find a way to build out and modernize in the business climate we were in. I Googled “North Florida economic development” and started talking to people in my industry about new locations.”

After searching the Southeast for the ideal long-term location, Comarco settled on Florida since it gets most of its eggplants from Florida and the state had the available space and talent required to house their operations. The company leadership found the ideal site for their manufacturing plant in Palatka, located approximately 60 miles south of Jacksonville along the St. Johns River and known for its support of large-scale operations.

Comarco now runs their business in a 52,000-square-foot building and has 125 employees in the area. Their plan is to run three production lines out of the facility, which also serves as the company’s headquarters. They also expanded their operation with a freezer which can hold 1,200 pallets of frozen products along with automated equipment and new state-of-the-art conveyor lines.

The people and business community in Palatka have truly been welcoming and completely supportive,” added Hoversen. “We could have not asked for a better situation both professionally and personally. I can’t say enough good things about Palatka and we know that relocating to Northeast Florida was the right move.