An economic action workshop OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
March 11, 2011
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met for an Economic Action Workshop on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 9:00 a.m., at the South Lake Campus of Lake-Sumter Community College, Room 204, 1250 N. Hancock Road, Clermont, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Jennifer Hill, Chairman; Leslie Campione, Vice Chairman; Sean Parks; Jimmy Conner; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Darren Gray, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; and Courtney Vincent, Deputy Clerk.
Commr. Hill welcomed everyone and introduced the Board of County Commissioners. She summarized the accomplishments since the previous Economic Action Workshop on February 1, 2011, noting the BCC had received a presentation from Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission (Metro Orlando EDC), had ongoing discussions and meetings with Lake Sumter MPO which had made the Economic Action Plan one of their legislative priorities as well as a Board priority, and had in depth discussions and input from the Lake County School Board.
economic action plan
Commr. Campione stated the first Economic Action Workshop occurred February 1, 2011, describing it as a vision session and commenting that it provided a chance to identify broken areas that could be fixed. She noted suggestions from the community were being received and remarked that several emerging themes were used to help create the initial draft of the Lake County Economic Action Plan (the Plan) which the Board had decided to implement immediately. She gave a PowerPoint presentation, displaying the vision, mission, and nine goals of the Plan.
The Vision and the Mission
She stated the vision was, “To facilitate a more prosperous and diverse economy in Lake County in partnership with others,” and the mission was, “To aggressively retain, attract and grow jobs in Lake County, while protecting and improving Lake County’s quality of life and unique character.” She mentioned one of the thing new businesses took into consideration before deciding where to locate was the quality of life in the surrounding area and remarked comments had also been received requesting the County not neglect already established companies. She then read and discussed each of the nine goals on the Plan explaining that behind each goal were several implementing programs and noting a complete copy of the Plan would be available on the County’s website.
The First Goal
Commr. Campione read the first goal: “Create a ‘business friendly’ environment, simplify the governmental permitting process, and always be mindful of the impact of governmental regulation on the success of the private sector to retain and create jobs.” She stated it supported the need to simplify the process of obtaining government permits and noted steps were being taken towards providing permitting online within the next six months. She mentioned another part of the goal involved indentifying policies, situations, and regulations that adversely affected the mission and vision of the Plan, adding that a permitting advocate or “concierge” would be established to guide a business owner through the permitting process and bridge the cap between city and county regulations.
The Second Goal
Commr. Campione read the second goal: “Work directly with willing municipalities to assist with the implementation of each city’s economic initiatives, and promote cooperation and coordination between the cities and Lake County.” She stated most cities had economic initiatives or plans and the County wanted to help implement them. She explained if a city brought in a new business the entire County benefited so the County wanted to be the facilitator to help each entity work together towards the common goal.
The Third Goal
Commr. Campione read the third goal: “Assure that we have an available and well-prepared workforce for existing, emerging and prospective businesses, and collaborate with Lake County educators to meet workforce needs and achieve educational excellence.” She stressed the need for a great education system in the County. She added that one of the implementing goals was to collaborate with education partners to identify workforce needs and define programs to help existing businesses with their specific needs. She emphasized the importance of bridging the gap between the business community and the education community.
The Fourth Goal
Commr. Campione read the fourth goal: “Establish policies and programs that promote the retention, success, and expansion of existing businesses.” She indicated they wanted existing business to thrive, noting the Goal had been immediately implemented. She mentioned the County’s economic staff was making weekly visits to existing primary sector job producers and described how, because of that contact, a Leesburg company looking to add five new positions was informed of job creation incentives.
The Fifth Goal
Commr. Campione read the fifth goal: “Establish policies and programs to assist start-up and developing businesses, and encourage entrepreneurship.” She mentioned there was currently a business incubator in Leesburg and a goal to create a business incubator in South Lake County within six months. She explained the business incubators provided an opportunity for start-up businesses to receive guidance on how to take their idea for a business to the next level. She reported the Lake Sumter Community College (LSCC) Business Resource Center had an entrepreneurship program that also provided guidance to businesses and suggested there might be a need to have such resources in sub-regions of Lake County for better accessibility.
The Sixth Goal
Commr. Campione read the sixth goal: “Attract and recruit new businesses to Lake County by targeting specific industries, drawing upon regional partnership and using proven business models.” She stated the partnership with Metro Orlando EDC allowed Lake County to take a regional approach to economic development. She emphasized that while they would ensure established businesses would not be overlooked, they did not want to miss an opportunity to bring in new businesses to the County and it was only one portion of the entire process towards economic development.
The Seventh Goal
Commr. Campione read the seventh goal: “Work directly with the business community, cities, and other stakeholders to promote eco-tourism, recreation, sports and tourism.” She stressed the County was not reaching its full potential in those areas and two of the implementing items of the seventh goal were to look at infrastructure needs and create a business retention program for the tourism industry including sports and recreation opportunities in the County.
The Eighth Goal
Commr. Campione read the eighth goal: “Protect and improve our quality of life, and maintain the proper balance between job creation and the protection of our natural resources and unique “Lake County” character.” She stated by having that as an economic goal it became a priority to remain mindful of the impact their efforts had on protection of natural resources and quality of life.
The Ninth Goal
Commr. Campione read the ninth goal: “Establish specific targets and track progress of our economic development efforts and programs, and maintain intensity level and sense of urgency regarding economic prosperity emphasizing the connection between government and the private sector.” She reported the County staff had been asked to make updates on economic development a regular agenda item and to set specific goals to provide something to strive for and measure progress. She mentioned the entire Plan was available on the County’s website and urged everyone to look at the implementing parts of the goals and to stay in contact with the County.
building a regional economic strategy
Ms. Shelly Weidenhamer, Metro Orlando EDC, gave a PowerPoint presentation and led a discussion on “Building a Regional Economic Strategy”. She mentioned she would be discussing who the Metro Orlando EDC was, what changes were being implemented there, who some of the new leaders were, and where they planned on going. She introduced the EDC members who were in attendance at the meeting and explained their mission was to aggressively attract, retain and grow primary jobs for the Metro Orlando region. She mentioned they were a public/private partnership, reporting 35 percent of their funding came from their partners Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Lake County as well as the City of Orlando and the other 65 percent of their funding came from the private business community. She displayed a map of the regional offices throughout Central Florida and their Organizational Chart, noting they reported to a Board of Directors and the organization was split into two sections, the first being Innovation and Business Development and the second being Corporate Resources. She reported a new Vice President of Innovation and Business Development had been hired and it was his duty to reorganize the Innovation and Development Team for strategic vision, explaining they had a regional strategic vision that incorporated 215 commissioners, 96 districts, and 36 cities and towns who were the stakeholders. She also mentioned a new CEO had been hired. She recognized the members of the Board of Directors who were from Lake County. She stated that in order for economic development to be successful a vision needed to be aligned around resources, and the three key components to accomplishing that were economic development, workforce development and community development. She stressed the need for all of those components to be aligned and working properly in order to develop momentum to move forward. She noted the primary sector businesses were based around tourism and agriculture as well other areas. She stressed they did not create jobs; they helped companies with growth opportunities. She stated their focus was creating “primary jobs,” which she defined as jobs that produced goods or services in excess of what could be absorbed by the region. She mentioned they created a targeted primary sector list of companies within the region that had already been successful and companies in emerging industries, displaying the list during her presentation. She discussed their plan to retain and expand existing companies, recruit new companies, support start-up companies, and facilitate film and television production. She remarked job creation tomorrow would take deep economic analysis to identify future drivers of job growth; enhanced competitiveness through updating legislative, regulatory and incentive factors; and aggressive and customized marketing strategies to target industries that will drive future growth. She stated currently there were 12 people within the Innovation and Business Development team, each targeting a primary sector.
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares who writes a blog on fiscal issues, mentioned there might be some overlap with Chambers of Commerce and asked for an explanation of the differences.
Ms. Weidenhamer replied there was no overlap with Chambers of Commerce; they were a partner working towards economic development because it took more than one entity to improve the economy. She said one of the simplest things that would help was knowing the facts about a region and talking about why the area was a great place to live and work.
Commr. Campione clarified Metro Orlando EDC was a resource available to the entire County, not just County staff, and if anyone heard of a company that wanted to come to the area, expand, or might be leaving, they should call the County or the Metro Orlando EDC to help. She gave the example of how the City of Tavares was responding to an RFP for a job producer looking at relocating into the area and the Metro Orlando EDC was able to help them.
Mr. Jay Evens, City Manager for the City of Leesburg, commented that the City of Leesburg had also received assistance from the Metro Orlando EDC when they needed help outside of the scope of expertise of their professionals.
lake county: a statistical analysis
Mr. Cary Pierce, Lake County Economic Growth & Redevelopment Division, gave a PowerPoint presentation and discussed information about the demographics of Lake County. He noted the data was available through the County’s strategic partners and through the library system, adding that he put the data in graphical format. He displayed a graph showing the percentage of total population in descending order with the City of Clermont representing the greatest percentage of population for the County and the City of Leesburg following in second. He broke down the population percentage by age group, educational level, degree attainment (ages 25+), and household income. He displayed graphs illustrating the break down of the total number of companies and employees per municipality. He displayed graphs depicting the percentage of the population working in finance and insurance; agriculture, forest, fishing, and hunting; manufacturing; wholesale and other services. He then displayed graphs of the industry analysis for the Cities of Clermont, Eustis and Minneola/Montverde. He noted Lake County had a large educated workforce but 41 percent of those educated workers were employed outside of the County. He added the statistics displayed did not represent the 39 percent of jobs filled by people who worked in Lake County but lived somewhere else. He mentioned the data used in his presentation was derived from information from the 2000 United States Census that had been updated annually based on trends in the economy because they did not have information from the 2010 Census yet.
Mr. Paul Richardson, a representative of the South Lake Tea Party, asked if the information was available to the public.
Mr. Pierce answered that the information and graphs were available on their website: http://egr.lakecountyfl.gov .
Mr. Clark Morris, a resident of Mount Plymouth, asked if the County would use the presented statistics to make suggestions to the cities to pursue specific industries for their area.
Mr. Pierce replied the purpose was to make the data available to help with decisions such as whether to focus on one specific industry or multiple industries, or whether the focus should be on workforce development to target preferred industries for the area.
Mr. Ray Goodgame, Councilman for the City of Clermont, commented the information was based on percentages which falsely represented what should have been presented as numerical values, remarking the data should state how many people in a certain category were available in a certain city and added that using percentages made the data misleading. He opined the actual numbers needed to be available before the data was presented to a corporation.
Mr. Pierce clarified the presentation was not meant for a corporation, it was an economic development analysis to determine where industries were, and the data was available for review.
Ms. Christina Kurtz-Clark, a Commercial Broker for Coldwell Banker Commercial in Clermont, asked if the County was starting work with Metro Orlando EDC to target marketing directions towards companies for the South Lake region of the County.
Mr. Pierce said absolutely, the data helped show that Lake County was a good location.
Mr. Morris asked if there was a skills inventory of existing companies in Lake County.
Commr. Campione replied that one of the Goals of the Action Plan included creating a database of all existing regional businesses and an inventory map and matrix for each region of the County that identified improved and vacant parcels available for the targeted industries, identified the available workforce to accommodate the targeted industries, and then they would collaborate with educational partners to rectify deficiencies in the workforce.
Commr. Cadwell advised that an inventory of local businesses could help encourage local companies to do business with each other.
Commr. Campione added that existing companies might encourage their customer companies to locate to Lake County as well.
Mr. Russ Sloan, Director of Business Resources for LSCC, suggested creating a private sector board to work alongside economic development staff.
Mr. Rick Gonzalez, Sales Director for R & S Realty Group Inc. in Tavares, asked what incentives the County offered businesses to relocate to the area.
Commr. Campione mentioned a company received an incentive if they brought in jobs that were a certain percentage over the County’s median salary range.
Mr. Gonzalez commented $3,000 per person was not a very strong incentive.
Commr. Campione clarified that the amount changed depending on the level of salary. She added the enterprise zones were working with Representative Metz and Senator Hays to potentially offer tax abatement, but currently that option was unavailable. She added the tax abatement, if it went into affect, might be limited to certain specific industries.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:15 a.m. that there would be a 15-minute recess.
panel dsicussion with local business leaders
Mr. Alan Winslow, Chairman of the Lake County Republican Party, moderated a discussion panel of local business leaders from Lake County which consisted of: Dr. Dwayne Dundore, Chief Technology Officer, Raptor Technology Group, Groveland; Mr. James Burks, President, Senninger Irrigation, Clermont; Ms. Mary Boston, Vice President of Operations, Environmental Composites, Tavares; and Mr. John Cottrell, Vice President and General Manager, G & T Conveyor Company, Tavares. He introduced the panel members and asked them to give a brief description of their industry.
Mr. Dundore stated the main business of Raptor Technology Group was energy; they were the largest producer of biodiesel plants in the United States between one and 20 million gallons. He reported there were about 19 plants built over the last three years worldwide. He added they worked with other energy-related equipment such as designing fuel rods for electric cars as well as mining for precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and gold. He mentioned the office in Groveland was their headquarters.
Mr. Burks stated Senninger Irrigation was located off of SR 50 in the City of Clermont and was a company of about 210 employees who were mostly based in Florida. He mentioned they had a global market for agricultural and irrigation products and their objective was to bring greater technologies for energy and water conservation to agricultural irrigation. He added that 65 percent of their products were used domestically while the other 35 percent were exported to other countries.
Ms. Boston explained Environmental Composites was started by a single proprietor who brought fiberglass composite materials into the stormwater market, reporting they made skimmers that went into retention ponds and various other products and from there had expanded to work with aluminum, steel, and stainless steel as well as branching out into water treatment, handrails, walkways, and platforms.
Mr. Cottrell stated G & T Conveyor Company built airport conveyor systems. He mentioned they worked all over the United States as well as internationally and they primarily built baggage conveyors systems though they also built a lot of the equipment related to security screening systems. He remarked they started out in Clermont but were now located in Tavares with a large manufacturing facility and supplied mechanical engineering jobs and electrical engineering projects, and they were the last American owned and operated baggage conveyor company in the United States. He explained their competitors were owned by multibillion dollar foreign companies.
Mr. Winslow asked the panelists how they found the labor market in Lake County.
Mr. Dundore replied it was different for his company because they employed other engineers which a lot of the time they brought in from outside the area. He commented that in regards to trade labor such as welders and electricians they had a number of qualified people to choose from because of the decline in the building industry.
Mr. Burks commented their needs were heavily engineered through their research and development department and throughout their production and industrial engineering department but they also had a need for assembly and molding injection workers, commenting that he loved the supply of young intelligent engineers coming out of the University of Central Florida (UCF) and through the collaboration with LSCC. He noted that over the last five years they had hired three engineers from that educational supply chain into their research and development department. He mentioned most of the new hires were for assembly and molding jobs and so far the community had served very well. He mentioned they should look at serving their communities and improving economic development more instead of keeping it on the peripheral.
Ms. Boston remarked that they hired more unskilled employees, clarifying that they were a small company of about ten people and noted they had been fortunate their new hires were right out of college and possessed the necessary base skill set for the job. She noted they had some problem with reliable labor, opining attitude was a big factor.
Mr. Cottrell stated they had entry level people who did assembly all the way up to software engineers and IT professionals and it was a little challenging finding entry level staff because not all of them were committed to the company. He said they needed specific engineers and while they previously had the luxury of hiring people and taking the time to train them they did not have that anymore, noting because of that they needed engineers specific to their market because they could not afford for any mistakes to be made. He commented that when they advertized for mechanical engineers who knew conveyor or material handling they usually came from the northeast or even Detroit and they needed to be recruited to relocate to Florida. He added they also had welders, break operators and mechanics and there were not many of those skilled laborers in the area which also caused them to look outside the area. He reported they were currently at 166 employees but when the economy had been thriving they had as many as 400 manufacturing employees and it was in part because of the cut in the workforce they could not spend a lot of time training new hires.
Mr. Winslow asked Ms. Boston what percentage of her business was outside the area.
Ms. Boston replied 80 percent was in Florida and 20 percent was outside, but the outside percentage was growing as they opened up to new markets.
Mr. Winslow asked Mr. Cottrell to expound on his comment regarding the importance of the school system.
Mr. Cottrell replied that when they recruited people from outside the area they were asked how the school system was in Lake County. He commented often times they moved to Seminole County because, whether it was real or perceived, they had a better education system. He asked what Lake County was doing to keep jobs and the workforce local to the County, stressing the need to do something with the education system so people looked at the County’s public or private education system they would help show it was a good place to live.
Commr. Conner stated he knew what the perceptions were. He reported he and the other Commissioners had met with Superintendent Dr. Susan Moxley to discuss how to change the image because it did not reflect the reality. He suggested mentioning over 80 percent of the schools in the County were A or B schools when someone asked about the school system.
Mr. Jim Krakowski, a South Lake Tea Party member, agreed with Commr. Conner. He noted people only heard about the negative things and added that the Lake County School System was given a B rating countywide. He reported the school system had gone from 35th in the nation to 5th in the nation as far as quality of education. He mentioned some of the schools were reimplementing shop classes to teach trade skills.
Mr. Winslow commented that one of the big challenges was marketing for the County because in the competitive market of attracting businesses first impressions were extremely important.
Commr. Conner agreed with Mr. Cottrell, stating the County did need a marketing plan to solve the problem of County image.
Mr. Winslow asked the panelists why their companies were located in Lake County.
Mr. Burks responded that they outgrew their original location, adding they had previously purchased property in Lake County. He mentioned a lot of the people who worked there lived in Lake County already. He explained they were a rural company and had rural customers and the location fit them well. He stressed the County was running out of potential land for companies that needed a lot of land for manufacturing, and so the County needed to take inventory of available property, earmark it for specific uses, and take that information to potential users.
Mr. Winslow asked Mr. Dundore what the most important thing a company was looking for that would attract them to the area other than being closer to their supplier.
Mr. Dundore said in his experience incentives were not a primary reason to relocate to the area for the companies he had spoken, mentioning that how quickly the companies can get permits was a big concern.
Mr. Winslow asked Mr. Cottrell why his company moved to Lake County.
Mr. Cottrell remarked that it was because they owned land in Lake County and had labor with a good work ethic.
Mr. Winslow asked about G & T Conveyor’s subsidiaries.
Mr. Cottrell reported they owned four other businesses including one located in Indianapolis that built loading bridges used to board passengers onto aircraft, a design firm in Dallas that designed baggage handling systems, a company in Utah that performed similar services to G & T Conveyor, a company that made high definition surveying and scanning for buildings, and one called ELS which was located in all 50 States and maintained airport equipment such as baggage handling systems, loading bridges, GSE equipment and emergency vehicles on site.
Mr. Winslow asked if, given the opportunity, he would expand in Lake County.
Mr. Cottrell commented that right now he wanted to add more employees as a short term goal and that currently they could not expand in Lake County.
Mr. Winslow asked if it was because of business reasons or because of the relationship with the County.
Mr. Cottrell answered it was not because of the County, that the County had been very helpful for them. He explained bonding was a problem because they went up against billion dollar companies that were able to sell bonds but G & T Conveyor had to go through a bonding company and currently bonds were not being given out easily. He remarked they could not bid on certain projects because they were outside of their bonding capacity. He mentioned the State offered loan incentives and loan programs for guaranteed loans to small businesses and it would be nice to have some type of incentive program for bonding, especially for the airport projects that they bid in Florida. He stressed if they wanted to keep Florida jobs in Florida then they should help him with his bonding so he could bid on the larger projects, noting that as they won projects their bonding ability went down.
Mr. Winslow asked the panelists if there were any problems within the County in regards to their businesses.
Mr. Dundore commented that the County needed to focus more on marketing because some of the problems he had seen in the past concerned interpretation. He explained what he was reading might not read the same to someone from another country and that it was not an issue of whether the document was correct but rather a problem with the foreign company’s interpretation of the document. He specified part of the problem was the use of acronyms and terminology that might be easily understood by someone from Florida but could possibly be misunderstood by someone outside who did not know what certain acronyms or terminology meant. He suggested having a staff member act as a concierge who would look over the documents, know exactly what was needed, and could help the businesses.
Mr. Cottrell said his issues were minor, noting they had not yet reached the full capacity of their manufacturing and engineering facility. He mentioned their greatest expense was freight because the majority of their work was outside the State.
Ms. Boston mentioned there could be more networking and there was a lack of industrial programs in the County. She stated Lake County seemed to be late in regards to technological advancements such as getting DSL lines installed or having Demand Star for bidding.
Mr. Burks remarked that collaboration and cooperation were important. He mentioned he liked the new roads but navigating them was difficult and there were issues with construction scheduling. He noted the revenue streams of other businesses had been negatively impacted because of the construction. He suggested the County and State sit down with the businesses to collaborate towards a solution to road construction problems.
Mr. Winslow commented that networking should be on the top of the list.
how we help business
Mr. Pierce gave a PowerPoint presentation on a new tool to help the County communicate with all of its partners. He summarized the progress made in regards to economic development, mentioning the County’s initial request for suggestions from everyone, the first economic development workshop, the additional suggestions for improving economic development, and then noted that based off the input the County received they worked towards creating and implementing a plan. He stated one of the recurring suggestions was to report what was being done towards economic development, create awareness of what the County as well as other entities were doing, and engage in conversation with the partners and the community as a whole. He remarked they wanted to encourage participation and create a central location to have the conversation of economic development as well as a place to report results. He introduced the new economic development website created for that purpose: www.HowWeHelpBusiness.com . He reported the website was currently live and the goal of the website was to provide a centralized location to submit economic development ideas as well as to inform people about any programs being implemented by the County. He explained Phase 1 would involve the County, mentioning that all the departments would report what they were doing to help economic development and to help businesses grow. He mentioned Phase 2 would involve their partners such as the schools, the business incubators, Workforce Central Florida, and the cities and everything they were doing towards helping with business would be reported on the website. He outlined Phase 3 as reporting back on the results and successes of what was being done. He stated Phase 4 would be specific examples of how an individual went over and beyond to help a business and how they helped the business.
open forum discussion
Commr. Campione asked all of the elected officials and city managers to come up and listen to comments and questions from the audience in an open forum discussion.
Mr. Winslow explained the purpose of the open forum was for the elected officials and city managers to listen to the questions, comments, and suggestions from the audience and that they could not speak during that time.
Mr. Edward Moore, Moore Smart Homes – Moore Enterprises, stated he submitted a grant request for funding under the DOE’s grant stimulus program and discovered the majority of the money for the smart grid went to the major utilities companies. He suggested a plan to utilize resources of the community by creating a regional training center for the State of Florida to teach contractors about new technology to make them more marketable in the workforce.
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares who writes a blog on fiscal issues, stated he agreed with Mr. Moore, commenting that the community college did not have the level of technology he saw in California. He mentioned when he moved to Florida he had considered buying a construction/remodeling company and found it was difficult to find information on SBA programs, loan programs, or business programs. He explained he spoke with a banker and found that almost all of the banks he had spoken with required the submission of an application to a regional office located outside the area and someone at the regional office decided the outcome on the request. He suggested creating a regional center for finance for businesses, bring in high level people who had worked in major financial centers and create an action plan to pull people from the local banks as well as people who specialized in capital funding for companies to grow.
Mr. Rick Gonzalez, Sales Director for R & S Realty Group Inc. in Tavares, mentioned there were a lot of inconsistencies depending on the city and recommended there be one meeting for new businesses where all the rules were defined at the County and City level. He stressed there should be cooperation between the County and the City.
Mr. Paul Richardson, a member of the South Lake Tea Party, remarked he had been without a job since 2008 and it had been difficult for him to find a job. He suggested that since they were trying to bring new businesses in that they should also be helping to connect those who were looking for a job with those who were looking for people to hire.
Mr. Dundore commented that the biggest problem he had bringing companies into the area was with business tax receipts and occupational licenses. He explained the cities told businesses they needed to go to the County to get a business tax receipt, but when they went to the County’s website there was no mention of business tax receipts, it was listed under occupational license, and the entire process to complete the form was confusing and overly complicated.
Ms. Christina Kurtz-Clark, a Commercial Broker for Coldwell Banker Commercial in Clermont, stressed it was a communications issue, that there was a terrible break between County permitting versus city permitting and a small business person did not have the time to deal with the complex process because with most small businesses it was the owner-operator who had to leave their business to handle those issues. She applauded the County’s efforts to create the business liaison to step business owners through the process. She asked if the website would have a way to direct business owners to the correct people to answer their questions.
The Commissioners all answered yes.
Mr. Curtis Binney, a resident of Clermont who was commenting on behalf of the Economic Committee of the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and Business Owners of South Lake, stated a business incubator was needed in South Lake County and asked the County to be as receptive as possible to the ISBA issues with the municipalities.
Mr. Clark Morris, a resident of Mount Plymouth, commented there was a large segment of the population in the past that viewed growth as a negative thing and asked how they would reach out to the people who did not want to see change and inform them the County would grow properly. He opined there could be backlash from those who did not want more growth.
Mr. Tim Green from Green Consulting Group stated he was a past president of the Chamber Alliance of Lake County and currently the Chairman of the Lake County Business Partnership Program. He mentioned the Lake County Business Partnership Program met on the second Thursday of the month at Main Street Receptions in Leesburg, also mentioning Commr. Conner and Commr. Campione had attended meetings. He invited city leaders and other County Commissioners to attend the meetings. He remarked it was a diverse group that discussed economic development in Lake County.
Commr. Hill expressed her appreciation for everyone’s participation and thanked Commr. Campione for facilitating and moderating the meeting and thanked Mr. Winslow for moderating as well. She stressed the Board had been very focused on the issue of economic development. She asked if the Board had any other comments.
Commr. Parks expressed there were still a lot of hard realities, noting unemployment had increased but also stressing the need to remain positive.
Commr. Campione stated the next step would be the education summit and remarked that hopefully as a County they would be able to bridge the gap between the education community and the business community to better focus on workforce needs.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.
Jennifer hill, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK