By Joe Crews
For Hometown News
Team Volusia Economic Development Corp., a public-private agency tasked with luring out-of-county companies to the area, will take a more "aggressive" approach to its recruiting efforts this year, the agency's president and chief executive recently told representatives of local governments.
At a meeting of the Volusia Council of Governments, CEO Keith Norden outlined what Team Volusia has done in the past and will be doing in 2013.
"All our efforts are meant to attract jobs to Volusia County," Mr. Norden told the group.
Being a relative newcomer -- Mr. Norden started his job just a few months ago -- is an advantage.
"When you're new to an area, you're able to view that area with fresh eyes," he said. "I'm excited about what Volusia County has to offer."
Team Volusia's efforts are coordinated with the county's economic development division and with the Business Alliance, a private panel of corporate executives selected from companies who contribute financially to its operations.
The three entities recently clarified the role each will play in the overall economic development efforts, Mr. Norden said. Team Volusia will try to recruit companies to the area, while the county's efforts will focus on helping existing companies. The Business Alliance, which is not subject to open government regulations since it's privately funded, will operate more on a CEO-to-CEO basis to try to generate corporate interest in Volusia.
Team Volusia also works collaboratively with the area's chambers of commerce, the cities' economic development departments, local colleges and universities, and the Volusia Manufacturers Association.
Team Volusia derives slightly more than half of its roughly $850,000 annual budget from Volusia County, the Volusia County School Board and municipal governments. Nearly six percent comes from higher education institutions; the rest of the funding (almost 42 percent) comes from local businesses and corporations.
Team Volusia has 14 projects in various stages of recruiting, Mr. Norden said. On a six-stage scale, one company has been referred to Team Volusia (stage zero) and another has reached announcement of moving to Volusia (stage 5). The former company could create 200 new jobs; the latter company is an electrical manufacturer from New York that will bring 44 new jobs.
Six companies, with a possible addition of a combined 650 jobs, are in stage 1 (requesting specific information about the county or sites on which to relocate); two firms, with a possible 525 jobs added, are in stage 2 (site visit occurring or scheduled); three companies, with a possible 552 new jobs, are in stage 3 (second site visit); and two companies, which could result in 104 new jobs, are in stage 4 (negotiations underway).
"Our goal in 2012 was to get 55 to 85 jobs, and we got 44," Mr. Norden said. "Others were delayed and will be announced when the companies are ready" to say they're moving to Volusia.
Looking ahead, he presented a schedule of two dozen "recruitment outreach" events for 2013. The schedule includes two trade shows, five site selector events and one international event in the first quarter of the year; one sales mission, four site selector events and two international events in the April-to-June quarter; three site selector events, one developer event and one international event in the third quarter; and one trade show and two site selector events in the final three months of the year.
"I've been working to be proactive with site selectors," he said. "The 2013 outreach timetable is very aggressive."
Team Volusia is also creating an inventory of sites to which businesses could relocate. By the fall, Team Volusia will have a marketing campaign for every potential business site in the county, customized for each site, Mr. Norden added.
In an interview after his presentation, he said the aggressive outreach is very important now that Team Volusia is responsible for recruiting from outside the area.
"We're trying to locate companies interested in putting a facility in Volusia County," Mr. Norden said. "The county will help existing businesses expand or stay here, (since) most new jobs will be created by existing businesses; the Business Alliance will collaborate with us so we don't overlap our efforts.
"I think it's an exciting time for Volusia County," he said. "I'm excited to be here."