Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; Newcomers Get Soft Landing JAX Chamber Veterans Team for New Service to Ease Arrivals' Transition

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; Newcomers Get Soft Landing JAX Chamber Veterans Team for New Service to Ease Arrivals' Transition

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

The LeeValent Group opened six months ago with some familiar names to the Jacksonville business community.

The Lee is Wally Lee, who retired at the end of last year after 23 years as president of JAX Chamber. Valent is Anna Valent, who was vice president of operations at the chamber.

The company is trying to carve out a business helping other businesses ease their new employees into their new lives in Jacksonville. Valent talked about the company and what it does.

How'd this get started?

At the end of last year, when Wally announced his retirement, I was kind of thinking about what he's done, his talents and the things we'd be losing when he retired.

I approached him and said he should really do the thing he's so good at - connecting with people. As soon as he met someone, they were best friends. He'd take them under his wing, but there wasn't a process to help people.

Throughout our years at the chamber, we'd hear about a spouse who didn't connect or kids who had trouble fitting in. But Jacksonville has so much for everybody. Maybe that part of town didn't fit, but there's some place where you do fit in.

So he came back in two weeks and said he'd do it, but only if I go with him.

Is this an established field? Are there companies that do this?

We can't find any that do exactly what we do.

But there are relocation firms.

Those are for managing all the expenses, getting the employee from Point A to Point B. But it ends when your stuff arrives. We don't help with the logistics of moving.

Is the primary issue where to live?

Where to live, where to send my kids to school. Each of our communities have different personalities, and we talk to them to see what they want, what's important in their lives. What are their hobbies? Do they like to eat out? Do they want to walk to restaurants?

Do you help them find a doctor, a gym to join and where to sign their kids up for soccer?

Yes. We actually had a client who is moving here from the Northeast and they have a child who plays hockey, ice hockey. So we connected them with the one person here who plays hockey.

And, no offense, they can't figure these things out for themselves? …

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