Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Former St. Pete Manager to Head JEDC; Barton Began His Career in Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Former St. Pete Manager to Head JEDC; Barton Began His Career in Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID DECAMP

A former St. Petersburg administrator will lead Jacksonville's economic development agency, appointed by Mayor John Peyton over the interim boss and two others.

Ron Barton, who left St. Petersburg's economic development office in March, will begin as executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission on Aug. 15. It's an agency that Peyton has targeted for change.

The mayor wants a tighter handle on tax incentives arranged by the commission, which oversees business recruitment by City Hall. With a new strategic plan for the agency awaiting City Council approval, Peyton has also cut staff from 40 to 30 people this year.

The agency also has been criticized for the bungled development of The Shipyards along the Northbank of the St. Johns River downtown. The city accused the developer of misspending some of $36.5 million from taxpayers, drawing a grand jury investigation that faulted the JEDC.

Barton, a Jacksonville native who will be paid $136,000 a year in his new job, spent four years running St. Petersburg's office. There, he helped lead work to revitalize the downtown. Prior to that job, Barton was a partner in KPMG's real estate and hospitality consulting arm there, and also was national leader for sports and convention issues. Those could be important experiences given Peyton's interest in building downtown and city's sometimes-tense dealings with the Jaguars.

Barton began his career as an urban planner for Jacksonville from 1979 to 1982, helping write the city's first area-wide development plan for downtown. He has a master's degree in business from the University of North Florida.

"Ron Barton joins our team at a very exciting time for Jacksonville. He brings a wealth of experience and talent that will benefit the JEDC and the community," Peyton said in a written statement announcing his pick Wednesday evening. …

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