It is hard to believe 2017 has come to an end and we are already in the second month of 2018. The CEP recently hosted its Annual Luncheon with a sold out crowd of more than 600. With a theme of Delivering on Success, we shared with our partners many of the successes of the past year and goals reached through the first year of our 5-year Action, Moving Forward-Phase II.


The major new initiative of this plan is actually a two-prong approach to grow and attraction talent. The CEP took several steps for this effort in 2017 with the hiring of a Director of Talent Development, Dean Blinkhorn, and the creation of two programs to focus on these efforts.

Our Talent Development Initiative is presented by Townley Manufacturing who has made a significant commitment to this effort. The CEP will be partnering with our schools systems and higher education partners to ensure that teachers have the tools they need to provide relevancy to their lessons. This does not mean that we are going to tell teachers how to teach. Instead, we are going to provide them with resourced to help them prepare students for the realities of the workforce they will be entering.

Live Life Here is the name of our Talent Attraction effort. Just as we have successfully worked to bring talented businesses to the community, we think we can do the same with attracting talented people. Thanks to a presenting sponsorship from Sellstate Realty with partner sponsors Angie Lewis State Farm, Columbia Bank, Prime Mortgage, Spherion Staffing, and Trinity Catholic High School, the CEP will be running an ongoing digital marketing effort to drive targeted populations to the website. The campaign has coordinated print collateral and personal touches as well. The goal is roll this effort out later this quarter.


The McLane Company has announced that it plans to locate a new wholesale grocery distribution facility in Ocala. The company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, has purchased an existing 113,000 sq. ft. facility here and plans to triple the building in size. The facility will eventually house 500 employees at an average of more than $40,000/year. The CEP was pleased to work with McLane throughout the location process.


The Moving Forward-Phase II plan has goals for every area of the CEP but also includes three big goals: to impact the announced creation of 4500 new jobs; that those jobs will pay 15% above the County average wage; and result in a capital investment of our community of $400 million. We are through the first year of this five year effort and can report that we have announced 2056 new jobs (46% of goal); they pay on average 17% above the County average wage; and will result in a capital investment in our community of more than $194 million (49% of goal)! This is a great start to this important effort and we are excited about the opportunities we are already working on for 2018.

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