County hires Airstream Ventures to bolster sports, entertainment events

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County residents can expect more sporting events after the Board of County Commissioners approved an annual contract for $66,000 with Airstream Ventures.

Airstream is a sports marketing company that specializes in bringing sports events to an area. The Tourism Development Council unanimously approved to contract the company’s services, but it needed BCC approval. The commission followed suit Tuesday night with a unanimous vote.

“The TDC voted unanimously,” Commissioner and TDC Chair Mike Cella said. “It’s a great way to use [TDC funding], which is generated through the bed tax.”

Airstream Ventures is headed by Alan Verlander and Joel Lamp, and both have a history in sports marketing and sports entertainment. They’ll be bringing their expertise to Clay County after working with events like NCAA tournaments, motorsport competitions and spartan races.

Verlander is the former COO of the Jacksonville Sports Council, in charge of the sports and entertainment division for the City of Jacksonville, which included a prominent role with the Taxslayer Gator Bowl. Before that, he was the director of athletics at Jacksonville University.

Lamp is also worked in the sports and entertainment office for Jacksonville. He’s also worked as the Senior Associate Athletics Director for Development and External Operations.

Verlander said some of the events they can bring to the area can have economic impacts of up to $1 million or more. They bring a wealth of clients they’ve worked with in the past and already, a handful of those clients are interested in holding an event in Clay County.

Tourism Director Kimberly Morgan said part of Airstream Ventures’ attractiveness is its commitment.

“At any given time, we’ll have 10 to 12 of our staff working exclusively on this for you,” Verlander said.

Those staff members, along with Verlander and Lamp, will work to bring sports entertainment to Clay County as often as possible.

“Our goal is to bring people to Clay County using sports,” Morgan said. “We’re going to create an experience unlike any other and we’re going to make it a memorable experience.”

“We love what Clay County has to offer and we look forward to working with you.”

The BCC approved the contract for $5,500 a month for three years. That’s contingent on annual check-ups to ensure the money being spent is worth the service.

In other business, Economic Development Corp. President JJ Harris gave a quarterly update to the BCC that showed impressive growth and job stability in Clay County. By November of last year, 1055 new homes’ construction had already been started. That number was 855 in 2018. Unemployment as of last November was 2.8% but Harris said that number is already down to 2.6% today.

“All of this means increased property values, which is great,” Harris said. “Property values increased, on average, by $10,000 this year.”

The BCC also approved a resolution for the Black Creek Trail extension to NAS Jax so now, all involved partners are on board. The next step is creating funding between everyone involved and creating the extension.

For those interested in the extensive road projects potentially coming to Clay County from a $130 million bond, a workshop will be held Tuesday evening. A town hall is planned for Feb. 14 in the community area affected by the projects to discuss the same thing. A location was not selected during Tuesday, County Manager Howard Wanamaker suggested it be held at a local school.

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