Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Economic View Is Mixed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Economic View Is Mixed

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis, Times-Union senior business writer

A Boston-based research company has provided an analysis of the Jacksonville economy, and the results show a mixed but generally optimistic assessment.

Real estate economist Erik Gilliland tracks Jacksonville for Property & Portfolio Research LLC, and this is what he found in the metro area.

-- Economy: Employment growth is weak but positive, meaning the area created jobs rather than lost positions.

Total payrolls were up more than 1 percent as of July. The bulk of the growth over the past year came within the business services industry. Moreover, layoff announcements seem to be slowing, "indicating the local economy could strengthen in the near term."

Expansions will help, notably those by Southeast Toyota Distributors, Kaman Aerospace and BMW of North America, which are planning or completing major developments in North or West Jacksonville. Those moves "should fuel growth in the manufacturing sector." There's also the Citibank expansion. Citibank could add 500 jobs as it decides where to establish a Southside office campus.

"Job growth is expected to outpace the national average over the forecast," PPR writes.

-- Apartments: While people have been moving into town, "Jacksonville's apartment market has weakened over the past 18 months," PPR reports. Strong construction helped to push vacancies to 9 percent in the second quarter. Still, the pace of apartments being permitted for construction could surpass the 2001 activity.

"However, construction is expected to moderate after this year," PPR says. Construction is strongest in Westside, Southside, Arlington and downtown.

"Developers are making a play for downtown residential space, taking advantage of of tax incentives and loans from the city of Jacksonville," the report says. …

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