Naples Works – Opportunity Naples

John Coxby John S. Cox, CCE, CEcD, IOM
President & CEO

Opportunity Naples seeks to diversify and sustain our economy over time, resulting in economic opportunity for every person in Collier County. Have you read what others are writing about us?
NEW JOBS: Naples will see 4% job growth in 2015, the largest percentage increase of any area of Florida—IHS Global Insight (Florida Trend Magazine, April 2015).

HIGHER WAGES: Collier County had the fourth largest wage increase on a percentage basis nationwide and the biggest in Florida between mid-2013 and mid-2014—IHS Global Insight (Florida Trend Magazine, April 2015).

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: Collier County was at 5 percent in February 2015, down from 5.3 percent in January 2015 and 5.8 percent a year ago. Collier County had the highest annual job growth of all Florida metro areas, led by mining, logging and construction (up 14.3 percent) and manufacturing (up 9.4 percent).—Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS: “High School and College graduates have more options to stay in the area when the labor market improves like this.”—The News-Press, March 28, 2015.

JOB CREATION: Governor Rick Scott, “Naples leads state in job growth”—Naples Daily News, March 28, 2015.

POPULATION GROWTH: “Florida has six of the nation’s fastest growing metros; Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island is the 10th fastest growing MSA in the nation.”—New York Times, March 26, 2015.

WELLNESS: Collier remains the second healthiest county in Florida—The annual County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation March 26, 2015; BLUE ZONE initiative underway.

INCOME: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: “The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro—highest personal income in Florida in 2013, at $64,872 per capita.”

TOURISTS: “Collier welcomed 201,700 guests in February up 5% from a year ago. Hotel occupancy: 94% an increase of 2.4% from year ago.”—The News-Press, March 23, 2015.

BUSINESSES: large and small recognized for excellence: Arthrex named to Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies in America to work for and Norris Sports Group named by Governor Scott as an outstanding example of an entrepreneurial company.

INCENTIVES: “The Partnership for Collier’s Future Economy, a collaborative effort between county government, the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce and business leaders…” has worked to create incentives to retain existing business in Collier County—“we commend them.” Naples Daily News Editorial, Feb. 26, 2015.

QUALITY OF PLACE: Naples, Florida: 50 Best Places to Live in America and #5 Best City for a Career Change—Men’s Journal, April 2015.

We are encouraged by the positive press and attention we are receiving through fact-based measures, but there is additional work to do to sustain this economic activity to the point at which economic opportunity becomes a reality for everyone in Collier County.

Julie Schmelzle, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Senior Vice President and Partnership Chairman, continues conversations with current and future partnership investors. She led the Board in a strategic decision resulting in a second year contractual relationship with the Collier County Board of Commissioners to provide economic development services to the county and its businesses including business retention and expansion, business attraction, marketing and managing the relationships with Enterprise Florida and Florida Power & Light at no cost to the county. The provision of these services is due to the private sector and nonprofit investments made to the Partnership and Opportunity Naples.

The Opportunity Naples Steering Committee is evolving into the Implementation Committee. This group includes Steering Committee members, but is expanding to include partner organizations and others engaged in our common purpose. Steering Committee Chair Dudley
Goodlette is transitioning from that role and the new Chair is Julie Schmelzle. The Implementation Committee met on April 16 and
featured a presentation by Collier County Commissioner Tim Nance on future land use and growth management. The Partnership is also involved in other key issues affecting economic development such as affordable housing. Partnership staff attended the county’s affordable housing workshop and the Greater Naples Chamber Public Policy Committee held a roundtable discussion on the topic with area organizations at the April meeting. These issues were identified in the Opportunity Naples Competitive Assessment.

Our Communications Work Group, chaired by Lynne Groth, meets monthly to discuss the communications strategy. The work group has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions document that is updated continually to reflect progress and input. The work group has spoken to the Naples Daily News Editorial Board. In March of 2015, presentations were made to the following organizations: Pelican Bay Men’s Club, 33 United Way Agencies, the Collier County Public School’s New Teacher orientation and the Chamber’s Growing Associates in Naples (GAIN) young professionals group.

Our Community Investment Work Group is led by Gary Price. This work group is reviewing various revenue models, discussing funding strategies with professional fundraisers and engaging local investors regarding the return on investment and the value proposition.

In order for the three year Implementation Plan to be successful and achieve the desired outcomes, a comprehensive fundraising effort must
be undertaken.

Our day-to-day economic development practice is led by Vice President of Business Development Kristi Bartlett. Kristi works with existing businesses to determine what resources are available to help them expand and stay in Collier County. Recent projects include the retention of tech company, Kore Wireless and the expansion of Project Reverie. Kore Wireless was in the process of relocating to Lee County, but in a joint effort with the County Manager’s office, the Commissioners and the company, we were able to achieve a win-win agreement that retained 50 jobs and allows for the creation of many more. Kristi also assists companies interested in relocating to Collier County. Project Coleman was approved for the state’s Qualified Target Industry grant incentive, which includes a local 20% match. The final decision on the project will be reached in June and could result in 40 new jobs at an average wage of over $63,000 annually. The Partnership also continues to source clients for and otherwise partner with the county’s incubator and accelerator programs led by Marshall Goodman. These programs provide resources we might not otherwise have to offer new companies. Insulin NG is one example of a company we led directly to the incubator and it is now in the process of establishing a presence in the accelerator.

The strength of our local partnership enhances the support that we can provide to the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance. In the last year, we attended two national trade shows to promote the region and we participated in an out of market Site Selection Consultant/Broker/Developer presentation. This month, the Alliance hired it first Executive Director, Eric Bergland. In-bound and out-bound marketing trips are planned for 2015 to promote the region and Collier County.

Community Leaders are engaging in discussions relating to Opportunity Naples (ON) from the perspective of collective impact.

How can we align our resources to make this happen together and quickly? Alan Horton in his Hodges University Humanitarian of the Year acceptance speech spoke to the promise of ON and to the importance of moving forward. “Horton listed about 30 organizations that have grown into community stalwarts in the 30 years since he came to Naples, but one effort has his attention for the future, he said.

It’s called Opportunity Naples, a result of the economic development partnership of county government and the Chamber of Commerce, and its goal is to build a more diversified economy with a homegrown, multicultural workforce, Horton said.” (NDN, March 13, 2015).

Lydia Galton, named by the Women’s Initiative of the Community Foundation of Collier County as a 2015 Woman of Initiative, cited Opportunity Naples as a positive new direction and said, “We must champion economic development.”(eBella Magazine, April 2015). The Community Foundation of Collier County recognized the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce with its Outstanding Corporate Philanthropy Award for the work done via ON.

Thank you for your investment and involvement. I think it’s clear our partnership is effective, growing and strong. The collective work we do will create economic opportunity for everyone in Collier County over time. And we’ve demonstrated that when Naples works, opportunity happens.

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