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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 4, 202005:10 AM EST

JAX Chamber president sees 'unprecedented economic development interest' during COVID-19

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Daniel Davis tells the Downtown Council he would not have expected that a month ago.

JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis assured the group's Downtown Council members May 1 that core city development continues in the wake of COVID-19.

“We have several properties poised for development and they're A-plus properties,” he said.

“I see this as a hiccup in our process. I don't see it terminally damaging anything.”

He promised the group that “we're going to continue seeing cranes in the air.”

Davis spoke at a Downtown Council meeting on the Zoom video conference platform.

A member asked Davis about code-named projects Academy and Skateboard, both pledging to create 300 jobs in return for city and state incentives.

Academy is a manufacturer looking on the eastern end of Downtown near Talleyrand and the sports complex, while Skateboard is the expansion of an information technology company with a presence in Jacksonville.

The Office of Economic Development intends to submit legislation to City Council for the incentives.

“All I'm going to say is we've had unprecedented economic development interest during this time,” he said.

“I'm a little surprised that we've continued to see so much interest in Northeast Florida and very relieved to think that we're going to meet our goals this year,” he said.

He said that is a “very, very different answer that I thought I would have given you about three to four weeks ago.”

Davis did not elaborate on the job goals.

He said when JAX Chamber returns to its Downtown office, it would be scheduled so that staff would work on alternate days or among other arrangements “and then start building that back up to what it was like.”

The city and state social distancing and work-at-home orders will change how people work, Davis said.

“I've talked to people every day,” he said. “This is going to change the way we do business.”

Davis said people realized that productivity among employees at home “can be as strong as the productivity in the office, and that's going to change the landscape out there.”

He said the financial services sector will continue to be strong, “if not stronger,” although the density within offices might create change.

“I think there's an argument to be made that some of the talent that might be in a highly dense area in the financial services sector may not want to be in a highly dense area like they are right now,” he said.

“Is that an opportunity for Jacksonville?” he asked.

Davis said Jacksonville's diverse economy means the city is not dependent on “one or the other” industry.

For example, he said JaxPort reports strong business.

“There may be opportunities here,” Davis said.

“So that's the way we're looking at it.”

 

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