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  • Chamber of Commerce wants continued growth in a way that doesn’t “overwhelm county”

    Historic City News wanted to know what Scott Maynard had to say about economic development and the challenges to St Johns County residents and tourists looking forward.  Maynard is the economic development director for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.

    With 44% growth in the past decade, St Johns County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state.  Leaders within the Chamber are working to both continue that growth and make sure it does so in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the county.

    In a recently published interview with American Business Journals, Digital Editor Stuart Korfhage asked, “What are the biggest challenges facing economic development in Florida and in St. Johns County in general?”

    • Maynard: Workforce is a national issue and one that the Chamber of Commerce is working to proactively address. Attracting and training qualified talent is key in any community. Retaining that talent is also a major challenge. Having an ample supply of affordable housing is another key component in this area. The city and county are currently working on several affordable housing projects in St. Johns County.

    Korfhage: What are your thoughts on the incentives that are available for you to use as economic development tools?

    • Maynard: While incentives are effective, and in many cases necessary to be competitive, they must also make economic sense for the community.  An incentive should create a win-win for the prospect and the community in the long run. There are effective ways to build incentive packages that assist the business prospect and protect the community’s investment.

    Korfhage: What are your thoughts on proposed programs like incentives for film production?

    • Again, if it makes long-term economic sense these can be very effective incentives to not only bring business to the community but also showcase a region in a positive light. The current bill in the legislature has requirements that 60% of the cast and crew must be Florida residents and 70% of the production must take place in the state. The bill would provide tax credits after production has been completed and verified. The additional challenge we face in Florida is the strong film production incentives that already exist in states like Georgia and Louisiana.

    Korfhage: Are there other economic development tools you’d like to have at your disposal?

    • One of the best tools we have at our disposal is the high quality of education and the quality of life in our region. We are seeing record growth in St. Johns County for this very reason. People are deciding to relocate to Florida for the weather and positive business climate, but they are choosing St. Johns County specifically for the quality of education and lifestyle. It is a great community to live, work, play and learn with a strong entertainment, arts, and cultural climate as well.
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