CLAY COUNTY – Josh Cockrell works for the Clay County Development Authority, and he does a lot of good work for Clay County.
But if you asked most people exactly what the Clay County Development Authority is, they probably couldn’t tell you.
“In 1957 the legislature created the CCDA as an independent special district. It was created to support, promote and facilitate economic development in Clay county. Over the years what that has looked like that has evolved,” Cockrell said. “In partnerships with the chamber and such, they’ve done several projects throughout the region and over time that’s ended up evolving to the CCDA becoming a separate entity.”
The board of the CCDA is made up of 10 members of Clay County residents, who are appointed by the Governor’s office to serve a pair of four-year terms.
In the 1980s, the board was instrumental in purchasing land and creating the Harbor Road Industrial Park in Green Cove Springs.
“If you go there, you’ll still see the old sign, but there’s businesses that have gone into the industrial park and are creating some really great things. I think Challenge Enterprises is in there,” said Cockrell.
The CCDA also has issue $80 million in industrial revenue bonds since 1979 to assist in building the facilities.
“We’re the entity that issues those,” said Cockrell. “So, we are always looking for prospects and opportunities to continue to help businesses that are looking to expand here, or maybe looking to relocate here, and be that financial instrument to help them.”
Another big job of the CCDA is to apply for grants through the Florida Defense support task force to help Camp Blanding with infrastructure needs. Camp Blanding is important because of the revenue it generates through its use by reserve, National Guard and active-duty military forces in addition to police forces and multiple federal agencies like the FBI, ATF and homeland security.
Some things done have been the resurfacing of roads on Camp Blanding or the current project of rebuilding a force security canopy at one of the base entrances. With the funding they utilize, they are reimbursed by the state of Florida, and the federal government matches the dollars spent which brings
the projects to fruition. Land is also purchased around the installation. Funds are matched by the federal government for this as well. The lands purchased are to prevent encroachment closer to the base and to ensure that a safe distance is retained.
“There’s a three-mile buffer around the base,” said Cockrell. “By using our funds and matching federal dollars, we’re able to purchase a couple hundred thousand acres-per-year, around Camp Blanding to prevent future incompatible development and encroachment.”
For most, the CCDA may not usually have a direct influence on their lives. But through roundabout means, the overall county development raises the quality of life in the county.
“We have a pool of funds that we’re able to utilize to ensure that projects come to fruition. Whether it's filling in a gap on a project's finances by providing a loan.,” Cockrell said. “I look at it as we’re that spoke in the without us, that project doesn’t come to fruition at all, thus no jobs getting created, no new taxes being created potentially.”
Direct and indirect induced job creation have been positive results of the development authority.
Overall, the CCDA is a valuable part of the development cog of Clay County. Most residents usually don’t seek out them out; businesses often do.
The buildup of more companies and infrastructure creates jobs, with generates tax revenue and perpetuates the overall growth of the area.