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Photo by Max Marbut - Innovate Northeast Florida Economic Development Strategic Plan Co-chairs Bob Rhodes and Elaine Johnson.
Jax Daily Record Friday, Apr. 20, 201212:00 PM EST

Innovate Northeast Florida presents 5-year economic development strategy

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The success of economic development in North Florida will depend on promoting advanced manufacturing, aviation technology, financial services, health and life sciences, information technology and logistics.

That was the gist of the Innovate Northeast Florida Target Industry Implementation plan presented Thursday by the Northeast Florida Regional Council and JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development arm of JAX Chamber.

The nine-month study was co-chaired by Elaine Johnson, principal of Navigy, a subsidiary of Florida Blue, and attorney Bob Rhodes.

The study was conducted by Avalanche Consulting based in Austin, Texas.

Avalanche Consulting President Amy Holloway said the study involved more than 3,000 people in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties.

Holloway said in the past 17 years, she has been involved in similar studies in more than 100 communities and complimented the area participants on their effort.

“The level of collaboration is one of the best I’ve seen,” she said.

The final report released Thursday identified the region’s priority industries in terms of economic development implementation as aircraft and aviation components, financial services support, health care information technology and supply chain management.

Holloway said a key element to economic development in the next five years will be to better market the assets the research has to offer.

“The story isn’t being told as well as it could,” she said.

Holloway said there is no “one-size-fits-all” marketing campaign. She recommended adapting the region’s marketing campaign to each target industry.

One tool to do that is social media. Holloway said social media helps make people comfortable telling the story of their community to their peers and family members.

“Once the buzz starts happening in the community, those stories start leaking out. Your story becomes implanted in the brains of decision-makers,” she said.

The report also recommends demonstrating why the region is a good place to do business before offering incentives to companies contemplating entering the market and studying elements of economic development that have been successful for other communities.

“All this in nine months. Can you believe it?” said Holloway.

“Planning is planning, but implementation is everything,” said Rhodes.

He said the report is available by visiting Updates on implementation and progress also will be made available on the website, Rhodes said.

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