Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns County Agrees to Join Cornerstone Marketing Program

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns County Agrees to Join Cornerstone Marketing Program

Article excerpt

After years of negotiations, the St. Johns County Commission decided this week in a workshop to join the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Cornerstone regional marketing program.

Commissioners agreed 5-0 to put the decision on the commission's consent agenda next Tuesday, and it also caps a longtime effort by Jacksonville to lure fast-growing St. Johns into the marketing program.

"We wouldn't do it if we weren't optimistic," said George McClure, chairman of the St. Augustine-St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.

St. Johns County would pay about $45,000 annually for the next two years to join the joint marketing effort, which now comprises Baker, Duval, Clay, Nassau and Putnam counties. The effort puts St. Johns' name in regional marketing materials as well as at the table for prospect discussions.

The partnership will be re-evaluated after two years, McClure said.

Jacksonville's chamber has been trying for years to convince St. Johns County business and government leaders to join the regional joint marketing program.

"There has been in the past some friction between development desires in Duval County and development desires in St. Johns County dating back to the World Golf Village and the Southeast Landfill," McClure said.

"But our reaction is perhaps much of that could have been avoided if we were already cooperating at that time," he said.

Those specific issues date back about 10 years. In 1991, the PGA Tour ended plans to build its Hall of Fame in Duval County and moved to St. Johns, and the governor and state Cabinet derailed Duval's plans to build a proposed 880-acre landfill at the St. Johns County line.

St. Johns County Commissioner Mary Kohnke said yesterday she thinks the move "is a good idea."

She said the commission's Economic Development Committee recommended the move. "They recommended we do this for at least two years and see what's going on. I suppose the upshot of it is it should provide us with a lot more exposure. ... The exposure itself will be worth the money and the effort," she said.

"I think it'll go all right. I don't see any reasons it shouldn't," Kohnke said.

St. Johns County Administrator Ben Adams said yesterday that he considered the two-year "trial" partnership as "a good step."

"I think it's worth the effort for all of us to get together for the region," he said.

Jerry Mallot, executive vice president of the Jacksonville chamber and its Cornerstone program, acknowledged the partnership as "a big occasion."

"It is very important that we have the region working together and I think that very good things will come from their participation and our working as whole," Mallot said.

Mallot and McClure both acknowledge that St. Johns County can continue to cultivate its own economic development contacts. …

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