Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 21, 2018 3:41 p.m.
During a recent Nassau County budget meeting, County Commissioner (Dist. 4) George Spicer suggested cutting in half the $150K annual county contribution to the Nassau County Economic Development Board (NCEDB), claiming that “the taxpayer has seen no benefit from past funding.”
Many Nassau County businesses and employees would differ with that statement.
The NCEDB has received county support at a level of $150K per year for the past 5 years. But the county is not the only contributor. More than half of its operating funds come from other industry and community partners. According to NCEDB Executive Director Laura DiBella, the Board of County Commissioners investment in the NCEDB from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2018, totaling $600,000, has produced to date at least 540 jobs and $266,475,400in capital investment in Nassau County.
Seven individuals attended the June 20, 2018 Nassau County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting to take issue with Spicer’s statement by providing direct evidence of the help and support the NCEDB provides to local businesses. Speakers pointed to NCEDB’s role in job creation and growing successful local businesses.
Local Liberty Landscape Supply owner Mike Zaffaroni explained to commissioners how support that he had received from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) partially funded with the county’s economic development assistance had been critical in enabling him to expand his business from one to 37 employees since he began operating in 2007. He said, “There is no better investment the county can make; there is no better way to re-invest in the county.”
The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Yulee is a satellite center of the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida region serving aspiring and existing small businesses in Nassau County with no- cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources.
The SBDC helps small businesses by providing start up assistance and advising on access to capital, market growth and profitability. Successful small businesses create jobs and generate tax revenues for infrastructure improvement. Located in the Page Governmental Center in Yulee, they may be reached by calling (904) 491-7347 or (800) 450-4624.
[Slides presented in this article were taken from a presentation prepared for the Board of County Commissioners meeting on June 4, 2018. The presentation could not be shown due to an imposed 3-minute time limit on the speaker.]
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.