Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nassau County rethinks future in face of recession

Jacksonville Business Journal - by Kimberly Morrison

It wasn’t long ago that Nassau County was a budding jewel of the First Coast.

Improved access from Jacksonville, a charming quality of life and relatively low land prices were attracting fresh arrivals to Nassau County in the heyday of a flourishing economy. By 2007, the population had increased more than 20 percent since the new millennium, making Nassau one of the fastest growing counties in Florida. Developers were lining up, and buildings appeared virtually overnight.

Growth in the county was so strong that local officials amended the county’s own 10-year growth plan through 2010 more than a dozen times to turn tracts preserved for commercial and industrial development to housing areas.

“The situation is like so many parts of Florida. Nassau got caught up in a residential housing boom in the last 10 years,” said Steve Rieck, executive director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board.

Fast forward two years and there is a different, now also familiar situation —— the development hangover after the intoxicating growth subsides.

But while the county settles into a period of slower growth ahead, its leaders are working to correct its course. County officials recently completed a new growth plan, one to get the county through 2032.

“We are on the threshold of an explosion, particularly with the port activity,” said Barry Holloway, a county commissioner. “So we really needed to determine what we wanted to be when we grew up.” More here.

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