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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 29, 201112:00 PM EST

Five in Focus: Gray Swoope, Enterprise Florida President, CEO


Gray Swoope, the president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, is scheduled as keynote speaker today to a joint NAIOP and ULI North Florida lunch event. Enterprise Florida is the state’s economic development organization. The Daily Record spoke with him Wednesday afternoon.

What is your message to NAIOP?
It’s real simple. It’s a new day in economic development in Florida. I’m going to share the development strategy of Gov. Rick Scott and the state.

What are the keys to job creation in Florida?
There are three areas, really. The first is increasing the amount of competitive projects and winning them. The Time Warner deal (that will add 500 jobs) in Tampa is an example of that. We want to increase deal flow. The second is to continue to facilitate growth in areas where the state has made a conscious effort. We don’t want to take resources from one or another. For example, Visit Florida includes international trade and exports generate jobs. Last, organic growth and how that affects business policy. We want to tighten up time lines, speed up permitting.

Should we expect any large job-creation announcements before the end of the year? Any for Northeast Florida?
If there were any imminent, I couldn’t really say. But yes, we will.

What’s your outlook for Florida’s economy in the next year?
I’m bullish. You look at what we’re doing and you see international trade is driving the economy. As you know up in Jacksonville, our ports are going to play a big part. We’ve had a net 71,000-job gain so far in 2011.

What are Northeast Florida’s strengths and weaknesses?
I’m one of the ones that look at strengths. Certainly shipping and port market access. Great logistics. There’s also a great deal of financial services that are coming back and are known commodities. The JAXUSA marketing effort I love, and the Northeast Florida counties work well together.

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