Marion County

One of the two primary goals of the CEP is to create and retain jobs in our community. Four of our five core areas are organized around this goal. You will often see our five-year goal of impacting the announced creation of 4500 new jobs if you attend a CEP event or browse our website. However, job creation is more than just the projects that we directly impact. In fact, if we are doing our jobs then the community should see greater economic impact and job creation.

One way many people track the status of the job market is through the unemployment rate. While there are some real challenges with this approach, it does provide a good barometer of what is happening in our community. Using the latest numbers available (March 2017), the current unemployment rate in the Ocala MSA (Marion County) is 5.1 percent. This is a tremendous improvement from just a few years ago when it surpassed 14 percent. Additionally, when you look at the three-county workforce the numbers remain very positive. Marion County is the center of a regional workforce shed so these numbers are important. The unemployment in this region was 5.2 percent with nearly 5,900 more people employed than a year ago. Continue reading

There are so many incredible things happening in our community. The coming months will see the announcement of new primary employers and major expansions by existing primary employers. The Power Plant Business Incubator continues to help innovative and scalable startups primarily in the areas of technology, health care, and communications. The downtown area continues to generate enthusiasm with the new midtown plan, an ever-growing line up of restaurants and stores, and the long awaited hotel project set to break ground by the end of summer. All of this excitement and growth is in large part the result of our partners. Thank you for your engagement and investment in moving Ocala and Marion County forward.

Leadership Ocala Marion

Spring brings warmer weather, high school proms and graduations, and the beginning of planning for the CEP’s amazing leadership programs. For 30 years, Leadership Ocala Marion (LOM) has been training and providing opportunities to train new generations of leaders on the needs of this community and how they can engage. Continue reading

Last month, I outlined the successes of the CEP’s inaugural five-year plan, Moving Forward. In fact, this plan was reached a full year early. This month’s column will be focused on outlining the recently adopted Moving Forward-Phase II plan which seeks to continue to grow and diversify the local economy.

Moving Forward – Phase II

Just like its predecessor, this plan did not just happen. It is the result of months of discussion and research by the CEP staff and Board of Directors. Once again, the Board asked economist Dr. Sharon Younger to assist them in the creation of this plan. She provided an incredible layer of analysis and detail to assist the Board including a significant amount of data on how the Ocala MSA and the CEP compare to our ten benchmark communities. Continue reading

The biggest event hosted by the CEP each year is our Annual Luncheon. Each of the last four years, this has been a Sold Out event and the 2017 edition was no different. In fact, this year’s event filled up before Christmas – a full six weeks before the event! For the 600 attendees we are grateful and hope you left excited about our community and the CEP. For the many, many more who were not able to attend, I am excited to share with you a few highlights of this event. Continue reading

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