JAXUSA Strategic Plan on the Menu at Chamber Breakfast

JAXUSA Strategic Plan on the Menu at Chamber Breakfast

Along the coffee, pastries, eggs and sausage served up at the final St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Breakfast of the year, attendees got a taste of where the JAXUSA Partnership is headed in the next five years.

Anna Lebesch, senior vice president for strategy and talent development at JAXUSA, briefed chamber members and guests on the finer points of the economic development agency’s new strategic plan for the 7-county region it represents.

“This is a regional strategic plan, it’s not a JAXUSA plan,” Lebesch said.

The JAXUSA Partnership encompasses 4,400 square miles with a population of 1.9 million people in the seven member counties, including St. Johns and its mission, according to Lebesch, “is economic growth for the entire region.”

Before discussing the new strategic plank Lebesch gave a quick recap of the group’s previous effort called Elevate Northeast Florida.

“Talent development was a core function” of the old plan, she said. “A lot was accomplished under that last plan, but the future is now.”

JAXUSA developed the new strategic plan through a series of workshops, county tours, interviews with community leaders and 18 roundtable discussions across the region. The plan aims to increase competitiveness, regionalism, economic mobility, innovation and resilience across the member counties under four main goals.

In a twist to other strategic plans, Lebesch said the first goal is talent development.

“Talent is the new currency in the region,” she said. “We must grow our exploration and training programs,” adding workforce development issues are important for the region to remain competitive.

Business Development is the second goal, with a focus on recruitment of new companies and expansion of existing businesses throughout the region. One of the areas Lebesch highlighted was corporate operations, an industry sector JAXUSA has had some success with.

The third main goal centers around Quality of Place to keep the region attractive for business development and residents.

“We want to continue our efforts in our downtowns and our main streets,” she said. “It’s important to maintain the essence of our communities.”

Infrastructure Networks is the fourth goal and Lebesch said one area that requires attention is the approval process for new projects.

“We’ve got to address permitting,” she said.

Lebesch said so far this year there have been 17 project announcements related to JAXUSA efforts, creating nearly 2,300 new jobs and generating $2.1 billion in capital investment.

“If we want to continue to be successful, we have to double down on this strategic plan,” she said. “And it’s going to take all of us working together.”