Economic development teams across the country are focused on growing their local economies, in part by diversifying their private sector job markets. For those working on Volusia County’s behalf, global businesses are a key part of the equation.
Recruiting international companies takes a team effort as Keith Norden, CEO and President of the Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation, will tell you.
Each year, Team Volusia attends international trade shows focused on target industries like aerospace, aviation and advanced manufacturing, to showcase the area’s attributes and speak directly with decision makers, while extending an invitation to tour Volusia County.
“We have a dynamic outreach program that includes dozens of initiatives annually including select trade shows and exhibitions serving targeted industries, direct sales missions, and more, including some of the world’s largest international events,” said Norden.
Collaboration among Volusia County’s Economic Development Division, Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation, the CEO Business Alliance, Enterprise Florida and other organizations allows for highly effective recruitment efforts, tailored to the specific needs of the individual company according to Norden.
“The County of Volusia is the largest investor, public or private, in the Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation (TVEDC) and we rely on that organization to effectively market Volusia County to firms in the U.S. and overseas,” said Rob Ehrhardt, Economic Development Director for Volusia County.
“The County is also the designated ‘primary partner’ to Enterprise Florida (EFI) whose efforts include, but are not limited to, attracting Foreign Direct Investment to the State of Florida,” said Ehrhardt.
Once a United States or international firm has been successfully attracted to the area, the Volusia County Economic Development Division, CEO Business Alliance and Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation develop a value proposition in partnership with local stakeholders, including cities, higher education, and chambers of commerce, addressing the business objectives for that particular company.
The ability to meet the specific needs of individual companies has resulted in an increase of stage five (or committed projects) in the Volusia County area according to Team Volusia’s 2018 annual report.
One example of international success was the attraction of B. Braun to the area.
Looking back now, it appears as if bringing the German-based medical manufacturer to the area was a simple process, but Kent Sharples, Ph.D., President of the CEO Business Alliance, says it was much more involved.
“The commitment on behalf of the private sector community is extremely important to large companies when they’re looking at a location,” he said. “They want to know, first of all, they are welcome in the community, secondly they have the support of the other successful businesses in the area.”
Sharples calls it “cyclical economic prosperity,” combining economic growth and jobs.
“People call it economic development, I call it economic growth and job creation,” said Sharples. “We’re not in the development business, but to get to the jobs, development must occur.”
Making Them Feel Welcome
The saying goes – a person may not remember what you said to them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel, and in the case of B. Braun, it was clearly conveyed to the decision makers their presence was wanted in Florida, specifically in Daytona Beach. Bruce Heugel, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, recalls from the early meetings, a sense of being welcomed whole-heartedly to the community.
“In one of the first meetings down here, we met Kent and the CEO Business Alliance and that made it a lot easier for us to navigate not only what the state could do but what Team Volusia or the city could do,” said Heugel.
“Being an international company, we want to make sure we go to places where we are wanted. It really came from the get-go, starting with the governor and the local officials, that they want us here. One of the things it did was built confidence and trust.”
Economics, infrastructure, talent pool and speed to market all factored into the decision to make Volusia County the right choice for B. Braun’s more than $140 million investment.
“So far it’s been successful,” said Heugel. “We’ve been putting in a lot of money, we’re on the right path here, we’re going to create a lot jobs and have fun.”
What do International Companies Bring to the Table?
Success in attracting international companies to the area brings with it a certain prestige – a worldliness on par with major cities and hubs around the globe, not to mention a diversified economy and tax base.
Teledyne, another company in Volusia County with global connections, brings with them high paying jobs, a priority for economic development advocates.
Under the Teledyne Technologies umbrella, Teledyne Marine, a group of 23 companies in a niche industry, is headquartered in Daytona Beach and is one of the world’s largest underwater equipment suppliers.
Teledyne Technologies serves the oil and gas industries, oceanographic markets, and military programs across the world, with the marine branch of companies providing deep-ocean, underwater solutions. Not only is Teledyne a global exporter of their product, but their cutting edge research and development draws foreign direct investment.
In turn, the company has invested in Volusia County, employing 300 people and constructing two buildings. The company’s 50,000 square foot building is devoted to research and development of long-range product development and long-range testing. Their 100,000 square foot building is used for integrated manufacturing of underwater connectors and sensors, primarily for the off-shore oil industry.
Florida’s Chamber of Commerce Foreign Direct Investment report for 2017 cites the correlation between FDI and jobs, noting that according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “FDI not only creates jobs in communities across Florida – these jobs pay 30 percent higher than the economy-wide average. For each job directly supported by FDI, there is at least one job indirectly supported by FDI.”
Teledyne Marine President Mike Read says the company often taps into the talent pool from universities like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“We have a very active intern program “Local Florida,” (with) universities and schools, particularly Embry-Riddle where these students think they want to go up in the air,” said Read. “They come work for us for a summer or two and we’ll convert about thirty percent of our interns into junior engineers. It’s fantastic. Until they walk in the door, they have no idea about the cool solutions they could be working on here locally in Daytona Beach.”
Read has been part of the company, founded 30 years ago in Holly Hill as the small, local business Ocean Design Inc., for 17 years. Purchased by Teledyne Technologies in August 2006, Teledyne Marine, with a global customer base, could locate its headquarters anywhere in the world, but notes Volusia County has important elements for success.
“It was started here and when I took it over, the reality was we wanted a location where we could build a custom building and Tomoka Farms had that. We have employees who live locally. A happy, motivated workforce is exactly what you need, so we’ve retained many of the people who started the company and added a lot of new talent to help us grow,” he said.
Teledyne Marine has become one of the businesses showcased when other high tech companies come to tour the area.
“Mike is a critical player,” said Sharples. “When we bring a company into town and they are a technical company, engineering based, frequently we take them over to Teledyne and introduce them to Mike and let them see that, yes, you can hire engineers and be successful manufacturer of high tech products right here in Volusia County.”
“That’s the key. It’s all a product of the relationships. People do business with people they like,” said Sharples. “If you come here, you feel welcomed, you develop relationships with members of the business community, you feel a level of comfort.”