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Photo by Karen Brune Mathis - From left, Ennis Davis of Metro Jacksonville Inc., Erika Alba of the Foley & Lardner law firm and Michael Drexler of Deutsche Bank shared industry trends and predictions with the Association for Corporate Growth North...
Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 21, 201312:00 PM EST

ACG's '10 ahead' includes Downtown development, job recruitment and politics


"Changing markets," was a common theme Thursday when the Association for Corporate Growth North Florida Chapter presented its annual "Ten Ahead: Predictions for the Next Decade."

Ennis Davis of Metro Jacksonville Inc., Michael Drexler of Deutsche Bank and Erika Alba of the Foley & Lardner firm outlined the trends they expect in Downtown, job recruitment and politics.

They spoke to more than 80 members and guests of the group at The River Club.


Davis, an urban planner, presented his views of "The Future of Urban Development in Jacksonville."

He first outlined three national urban trends — the desire by 18-40-year-olds to live in vibrant central cities, the need for sustainability of investments in public parks and spaces and the use of fixed transit in successful urban areas.

Turning to trends in Jacksonville, Davis provided six trends:

• Changing markets. He said governments, facing budget constraints, are limiting the subsidization of suburban development, or "unsustainable sprawl."

• Multifamily development. Fewer office parks and more apartments and multifamily developments are taking place, notably two apartment communities in the Brooklyn and Riverside area of Downtown.

• NIMBYs and organic growth. Davis said people claim to want a "vibrant city, but we don't know what that truly means." He said people might say they want a vibrant, urban community, but they don't want the noise and parking issues those developments bring to a neighborhood. Those are the "not in my backyard" views. As for organic growth, Davis sees neighborhood-retail developments emerging along Main Street in Springfield and along Edgewood Avenue in Murray Hill, which are older communities not far from Downtown.

• Urban retail. Davis says the State and Union street corridors are attracting retail and commercial development, such as the 7-Eleven and Family Dollar stores and the McDonald's, all new projects in that area. He expects the emerging commercial developments might be more compact than similar construction in the suburbs.

• Additional urban nodes. Davis expects to see more urban-style neighborhoods develop along Butler Boulevard, such as Tapestry Park at Butler and Southside boulevards, and at the Beaches.

• JAX2025. Davis plugged the JAX2025 community visioning project, which was discussed Saturday at its first public event.

Job recruitment

Drexler of Deutsche Bank shared his views about "The Migration of Business from High Cost Urban Centers."

He said Deutsche Bank in 2010 moved 10 investment traders to Jacksonville and the move worked out so well that there are 220 investment bankers here now and that number "should double in the next 18 months."

"We realized we needed to reorient … to a broader group of people," he said.

Drexler said Jacksonville was attractive because Florida does not impose a state income tax, it is a two-hour flight to New York and offers a quality of life.

"I've been here 18 months. I think from a business perspective the advantages of Jacksonville are quite profound," he said.

Comparing the area's attractiveness of the ease of transit to Davis's support of urban development, Drexler said the Deutsche Bank investment bankers like the quality of life in a more open setting.

"I like to be able to drive where I want and park in front," he said.

"Having lived in New York City," he said, "be careful what you wish for." He referred to the issues related to mass transit, density and parking.

Drexler said the City and the state have been "extremely accommodating" in Deutsche Bank's expansion in Jacksonville.

Drexler outlined two challenges.

One is air service. He said calling on clients across the country is a challenge because "it's so difficult to change (flights) in Atlanta," referring to connecting flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The second is making employees aware of professional forums, such as the Association for Corporate Growth North Florida Chapter events.

Deutsche Bank employs more than 1,000 people in Southside, receiving City and state incentives when it chose the area in 2008 for the operation. It recently received approval for incentives for an expansion to create 260 more jobs.

According to the July legislative summary, the agreement is between the City and DB Services New Jersey Inc., DB Services Americas Inc. and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., which are American subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank of Germany.


Alba discussed "Washington and Tallahassee After the Fiscal Cliff" and titled her presentation "Are we safe in 2013?"

Alba is a public affairs director with the Foley & Lardner law firm and a member of its Government and Public Policy Practice and the Insurance Industry team. She chairs the Associated Industries of Florida and is the first woman to do so.

On the national front, she discussed the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, sequestration, firearms restrictions, immigration reform and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Alba said there was a "100 percent chance" that legislation will be introduced to restrict firearms and to reform immigration laws.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 established the consumer bureau. "This is a huge bureau that could affect everybody," Alba said.

On the state front, she talked about the upcoming elections that include the governor's seat, and she expects former Gov. Charlie Crist, who served as a Republican but has become a Democrat since, to challenge incumbent Republication Gov. Rick Scott.

She said the state anticipates a budget surplus and that its uses will be sought by K-12 and higher education interests as well as Medicaid and pension costs.

Also, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, insurance issues, tax legislation and election law, ethics and political contribution reforms will be topics to watch.

The Association for Corporate Growth North Florida Chapter is part of a global organization founded in 1954. The chapter, which was started in 1997, includes professionals involved in middle-market corporate growth, corporate development and mergers and acquisitions.

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