ECB Publishing, Inc.
Although not quite “the coronation” that some may have wished, the elevation of Jefferson County Economic Development Director Julie Conley to the chairmanship of the North Florida Economic Development Partnership (NFEDP) represents a singular and noteworthy accomplishment. “This is a signal honor for Conley and significant for Jefferson’s profile in economic development areas,” remarked Ron Cichon, chair of the Jefferson County Economic Development Council. Cichon, who has presided as EDC chair for most of the 10 years that Conley has served as economic development director, described the latter as “no stranger to challenges,” and praised “her tenacity in promoting Jefferson County and her ability to align herself with the movers and shakers in economic development.” The NFEDP is one such mover and shaker. A consortium made up of 15 counties that include Jefferson, the NFEDP promotes development in a region that encompasses more than 9,100 square miles in north central Florida and is home to more than a million people. And as the group’s newly installed chair, it was Conley’s first executive decision to hold the consortium’s quarterly board of directors and general membership meeting at the Monticello Opera House on Thursday, July 16. The half-day affair, which included a luncheon, dealt with a host of issues, including consideration of the organization’s slate of 2015-2017 officers, its board of directors and executive committee members, and updates of the site consultants’ event in Steinhatchee and the coming 2015 Rural Economic Development Summit in November. As chair, Conley will preside over the monthly business meetings of the executive committee, according to NFEDP Executive Director Jeff Hendry. Besides her chairmanship of the NFEDP, Conley currently serves as a Monticello City Councilwoman and was Mayor for two terms previously. She is also a past president and current member of the Chamber of Commerce, has held a number of key positions in Christ Episcopal Church, including that of senior warden, and several years ago ran a long-shot race for the Florida House of Representatives. The NFEDP, in conjunction with its member organizations in the counties and the State of Florida, offers an array of programs and services for companies wanting to locate or relocate to the region. It also serves existing companies and businesses that are seeking to expand. Among its many services, the NFEDP offers site selection assistance, comprehensive marketing and promotion of the member counties, and economic development education, training and information.