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JAX Chamber and JAXUSA Partnership 2012 Year in Review

Accomplishments Drive Economic Growth to the Region 

As part of its comprehensive commitment to economic development, the JAX Chamber and its economic development division, JAXUSA Partnership, helped strengthen the region with announcements of approximately 3,000 new jobs, the retention of more than 1,000 existing jobs and more than $200 million in capital investment.

This month the City of Jacksonville passed legislation that will shorten the project review and approval process and make Jacksonville more competitive with other cities when closing high-value economic development projects. The JAX Chamber Board of Directors voted to support this legislation, which will help attract and grow businesses in Jacksonville, creating new investment and jobs in the community.

Some of JAXUSA’s project announcements include BI-LO and Winn-Dixie, Web.com, Healogics, GE Capital, Medtronic, Advanced Disposal Services Inc. and FlightStar.

Chamber President Wally Lee announced his retirement. Jerry Mallot, president of JAXUSA Partnership, will serve as interim president and CEO of the Chamber, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

“Wally has represented Northeast Florida very effectively at the local, national and international levels,” said Tom Van Berkel, 2012 Chamber Chair and Chairman and CEO of The Main Street America Group. “When we were looking to relocate Main Street America’s corporate headquarters in 2002, Wally’s team clearly demonstrated this is the best area in the country to work, live and play as well as the best place for our employees and their families.”

Chamber leadership focused on six priority areas to drive quality economic development to the region in 2012.

Downtown Development – Developing Downtown Jacksonville is essential for the region’s success.

  • The JAX Chamber Board of Directors supported the creation of the Downtown Investment Authority, a lead Downtown agency to implement a long-term plan and facilitate the development of a strong urban core where businesses can thrive.
  • Downtown revitalization efforts received a major boost when EverBank Financial Corporation leased 270,000 square feet of office space on Bay Street, now known as EverBank Center, to accommodate 1,600 employees.
  • Community First Saturdays, sponsored by Community First Credit Union, is a monthly Chamber event offering fitness classes, health-oriented activities and entertainment Downtown along the banks of the St. Johns River to re-energize the urban core.

The Port of Jacksonville – The port of Jacksonville is an economic driver for job creation and high-wage jobs in the region, and the JAX Chamber is diligently advocating for funding improvements that will lead to significant job creation.

  • The JAX Chamber and Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a strategic alliance that will help advance and enhance economic development opportunities while strengthening economic partnerships between the two regions.
  • The Chamber achieved another milestone at Mile Point when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it will spend more than $21 million on maintenance dredging and engineering design improvements, an $8 million increase over the previous year.  Mile Point improvements will allow for significant job growth.
  • The Chamber supported the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure the Corps has revenue to conduct ongoing maintenance dredging and other maintenance-related projects.

Education and Workforce Development – Education is the key to success, providing the knowledge and skills necessary to compete and prosper in a challenging marketplace.  High-wage job growth relies on an educated workforce.

  • Building strong partnerships between business and education partners is a key priority for the JAX Chamber as demonstrated in its new Strategic School Partnership Pilot Program with Duval County Public Schools.
  • The Chamber and JAXUSA Partnership supports New Path, a program for mid-career professionals seeking employment in the ever-changing job market.  The New Path program is designed to educate individuals on the industries in the region and how to brand themselves while networking with the goal of helping individuals transition their skills to a new career.

Sports and Entertainment — Sporting and entertainment events add to the region’s quality of life and boost economic development.

  • THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass is one of the best known golf tournaments in the world.  The 2012 event drew more than 162,000 attendees, an increase of about 20 percent over 2011, and provided an estimated economic impact of more than $150 million to the region.  Nearly 2,000 jobs are created as a result of THE PLAYERS each year, and the tournament has raised a record $5.9 million for local charities.  Sales for the 2013 private venues have peaked earlier than in previous years.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars football team continues to generate national and international recognition to the community and a regional economic impact of more than $200 million annually.  International recognition is expected to increase as owner Shad Khan has arranged for the Jaguars to play in London for four consecutive years.

Community Pride – The Innovate Northeast Florida survey indicated the need to improve local residents’ perception of the region.  The Chamber launched #ilovejax in response to a tweet that the region had lost it “swagger.”

    • The  #ilovejax campaign uses multiple communication methods, with a focus on  social media, to promote the many positive reasons that make the JAX  region dynamic.  The conversation continues at #ilovejax.
    • The campaign generated more than 5 million social media impressions from those using #ilovejax on Twitter.  A regular December day with no major Chamber events yielded 74 tweets, generating 149,436 impressions.
    • To highlight the region’s business and economic strength, the Chamber organized #ilovejax tours, inviting media, elected officials and business leaders to visit some of the region’s greatest assets including JAXPORT, the Fleet Readiness Center, Mayo Clinic, EverBank Field and THE PLAYERS, among others. The #ilovejax tour at Mayo Clinic resulted in 120 tweets, yielding 1,883,576 impressions.

Buy Chamber – The Chamber developed its Buy Chamber program, which helps member businesses grow by marketing and promoting their businesses to other members and, thereby, keep additional dollars in the region.

    • The Chamber’s annual Trade Show brought more than 350 members of the business community for educational and networking opportunities.
    • Matchmaking events brought buyers and sellers together to connect face-to-face.
    • Buy Chamber Marketplace is an online program for members to market their businesses and communicate with other members at www.myjaxchamber.com.

The Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Growth Division delivered more than 90 training and mentoring programs for start up and growth entrepreneurs.  The Division is leading Asset Mapping, which will organize all the resources available to entrepreneurs. The effort has developed consensus among all organizations. A digital map will identify all the resources available in the region.

“The Chamber is helping lead the way to a more prosperous future by implementing dynamic programs to grow local business and attract major companies to our region,” Mallot said.  “We could not have accomplished all that we did in 2012 without the active involvement of our members and business partners.  Together, we are helping drive economic growth to the Northeast Florida region.”

About JAX Chamber

The JAX Chamber is the business membership organization dedicated to driving quality economic growth in Northeast Florida to make this region the best place to work, live and play. Membership provides the opportunity to connect with and buy from other Chamber members. The connections result in business growth and a more prosperous economy.

About JAXUSA Partnership

JAXUSA Partnership is the regional economic development organization comprised of almost 200 top private sector investors in Northeast Florida, including the JEDC, JEA, JAXPORT, JAA, JTA, WorkSource and the regional county partners – Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. A division of the JAX Chamber, its purpose is to facilitate the creation and retention of quality jobs and significant capital investment, resulting in a higher standard of living and better quality of life in Northeast Florida.


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