Have you heard the buzz about the Florida Eight and wondered what it was? Read below for more information and don’t forget to visit their website: www.floridaeight.com
WHAT IT IS:
The Florida Eight initiative provides regional teams with a variety of facilitation services and resources to build their regional capacity for economic development, talent development, job retention and international business opportunities—all priorities outlined in Governor Rick Scott’s 7-7-7 Jobs Plan. Through Workforce Florida’s investment—and consistent with its mission to strengthen the state’s business climate through talent development—this initiative provides research, marketing and other resources to up to eight regional teams as they establish and implement business development plans.
WHERE IT IS FOCUSED:
The initiative supports the economic development regional model used by Enterprise Florida and the Florida Economic Development Council and recognizes the local and regional differences in a large state such as Florida. To that end, regions have the flexibility to form custom teams beyond the outlined boundaries. Regions serve as economic catalysts by collaborating to attract, retain and grow businesses. By allowing the eight regions to form teams for coordination and partnership, based on their respective industry and talent needs, The Florida Eight provides a great deal of flexibility to ensure the teams can best identify how to advance their economic and workforce priorities and interests.
Regional Business Teams (RBTs) are flexible, but need to include regional workforce boards and economic development organizations, and extend into necessary partners like higher education, regional partnerships and other enterprises with strong stakes in bolstering regional capacity. Participation in the initiative is voluntary.
Planning for The Florida Eight initiative began in 2008 as a recommendation stemming from a Southwest Florida demonstration project, also funded by Workforce Florida. The Florida Eight project officially kicked off in April of this year, when the first of three team application periods began. The program runs through July 2012 to apply and develop regional plans. Also worth noting is that the regional strategic plans that result from this initiative allow for sustainability and a plan of action that will yield benefits to participating regions for years to come.
WHAT IS HAPPENING SO FAR:
Regional teams are still being formed, but regional teams in key parts of Florida have already begun meeting and developing their plans. A few highlights:
• Northeast: The June 9 kickoff meeting focused on priorities including how to better communicate to incumbent companies; supporting companies with an important role in target industry clusters; and addressing skills gaps and business recruitment needs for the region. The next meeting is scheduled for October.
• South Central: This region understands that talent development is a critical component of successful regional capacity. The team is using the Florida Eight initiative to develop a Marketing plan that links to the regional strategic plan. The plan will also include solidifying target industries or further developing target industries. The first meeting is August 8.
• East Central: Led by the Central Florida Partnership, this team is using Florida Eight to extend its current “Open for Business” initiative to improve business recruitment, economic diversity and retention.
• North Central: Led by the North Florida Economic Development Partnership and Workforce Connection, this team submitted its application Aug. 1. The team will conduct an inventory of economic development resources in the region, and will use its findings to develop a plan that addresses key areas including rural business’ talent and marketing needs; and recruiting skilled workers.
• Tampa Bay: The primary interest of this team is to develop a cross jurisdictional strategic plan to address issues and innovative solutions to business retention, economic diversity to include international trade. The team’s first meeting was July 29.
• Southeast: Led by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, this team kicks off its work on Aug. 19. Already, team partners have identified a number of priorities to address, including promoting and marketing business retention and expansion resources; expanding international outreach; and ensuring new businesses in the region have the support needed for optimal job growth.