Making Our Future Together -
Palm Coast business world welcomes innovation, technology, clean industry
Gary and Debra Davies fell in love with Palm Coast while their daughter was attending Flagler College in St. Augustine. The Rhode Island couple discussed retiring here someday, then decided, "Life's too short – why wait?"
It was 2002. Palm Coast's population was half the size it is now and growing rapidly. The "retirement community" was morphing into a comprehensive city with people of all ages. Many of the jobs centered around the building boom.
Gary Davies quickly landed a position as a process engineer at a Swedish-owned manufacturing plant in Palm Coast, the same type job he held in the Northeast. Today, Davies is general manager of the international company's local division – Sandvik Palm Coast.
Located at 1 Commerce Blvd., Sandvik Palm Coast specializes in manufacturing fine wires and coating of wires used primarily in the medical industry. The wire is sold all over the world, used in cochlear implants and continuous glucose monitors among other medical devices. "We're a unique company," Davies said. "It makes you feel good knowing you're helping someone."
Light manufacturing like that done at Sandvik is a perfect fit for the City of Palm Coast.
Palm Coast strives to provide a business climate that makes it right for clean, high-tech industry, for light manufacturing, for aviation, medical, financial and Internet-based companies. Entrepreneurship is cultivated, and innovation is valued. The City operates an all-fiber network for high-speed Internet.
The City incorporated just 15 years ago and when the recession hit, the Palm Coast City Council adopted the Prosperity 2021 economic development plan to expand business opportunities in an effort to foster a strong local economy. Prosperity 2021's primary goals are:
- Maintain our neighborhoods;
- Support existing businesses; and
- Encourage investment by attracting residents.
Key to Prosperity 2021 is the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center. Established in 2011, the BAC is a unique partnership between the City and the Florida Small Business Development Center hosted by the University of Central Florida. The BAC provides personalized assistance in starting and growing businesses in Flagler County, at no cost to businesses.
"We are growing Palm Coast 'one job at a time,'" said City Chief Innovation Officer Donald Kewley, who leads the City's economic development team. "We work hard on our own strategies and also support the economic development efforts of the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity, the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, Flagler Schools, and Entrepreneur Night."
The City, in partnership with the Flagler County Tourist Development Council, has built a niche in the sports tourism market by attracting major sports tournaments for sports including soccer and lacrosse.
Currently, the City of Palm Coast is building its first permanent City Hall in Town Center. Combined with a recently completed major reconstruction of the State Road 100/Bulldog Drive entrance into Town Center, the new City Hall is expected to spark more growth in that downtown corridor. Across town, the oldest shopping center along Palm Coast Parkway is undergoing a complete reconstruction.
These are among the many positive trends in Palm Coast. Employment is rising, tourism is growing, taxable sales are increasing every year, and construction is up, along with home values.
"Our future is bright," said Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon. "Our residents already know this is a great place to live and to operate a business. We are making our future together. But we have room to grow, and now we're inviting other companies, families and retirees to join us to make our community even better."
Gary Davies of Sandvik also sees a bright future for Palm Coast. The company has had its ups and downs over the years, especially when demand for its wire declined within the computer industry, he said. Sandvik adjusted and, today, there are fewer employees.
The company is active with VMA, the Value-Added Manufacturers Association, which serves Flagler and Volusia counties. Davies would love to see more manufacturers move to Palm Coast, to develop synergies, share best practices, network for resources and build a workforce with skills manufacturers need.
"I love Palm Coast. This will be my permanent home as long as I can make that happen," Davies said. "My goal is to do whatever I can to continue the business here and grow it."
As for the Davies family's decision to move here more than a decade ago? They love it here!
"It's clean, and I really like the layout and the fact that it's not built-up," he said. "Everything is very convenient, but it's not a hustle-bustle atmosphere. It's a very comfortable place to live."
The Palm Coast BAC: serving our business community
The Palm Coast Business Assistance Center is a unique partnership between the City of Palm Coast and the Florida Small Business Development Center hosted by the University of Central Florida. It is located at Palm Coast City Hall at 160 Lake Avenue.
Since 2011, the BAC has provided personalized assistance in starting and growing businesses in Flagler County. Services such as business plans, sales and marketing, strategic planning, budgets, access to capital, technology, inventory controls and lean business concepts are provided to existing businesses and to pre-venture clients, at no cost. In addition, the center conducts a BAC Business Expo with world-class speakers each November and, throughout the year, offers business workshops.
Business clients of the BAC generated $21.3 million in economic impact – in sales, capital investment and wages – in the BAC's first three years of operation, the latest Annual State Survey of Florida Small Business Development Center customers found.
Learn more at www.PalmCoastBAC.com or call the Palm Coast BAC/Florida SBDC at 386-986-2499.
Follow the trends on Business & Growth website
The Business & Growth section of the City website, www.palmcoastgov.com/business, provides up-to-date information about Palm Coast's economy and growth. Reports available on the site include quarterly economic development trends, annual reports on growth and development, traffic reports and guidelines for public-private partnerships. The site also details development activity in the Week in Review, which comes out every Friday.
Ratings/rankings in 2014
Forbes magazine named Palm Coast as the nation's No. 7 City for the Best Small Places for Business and Careers.
Beyond.com named Palm Coast the 10th easiest place in the nation to make a hire.
The Wall Street Journal selected Palm Coast as the 7th-ranked Best Small Places for Business and Careers.
Where To Retire magazine selected Palm Coast among its Top Eight Low-Cost Cities in the U.S. for retirement.
IHS Global Insight Economists named Palm Coast to be among 21 U.S. metro areas to grow at a rate above 4 percent through 2020.