Steve Rieck of the Nassau County Economic Development Board Stops by the Club
Recently, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club enjoyed a presentation by Steve Rieck, executive director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board (NCEDB). Rieck talked about current demographics for Fernandina Beach, saying the city’s population growth has been flat for more than 10 years. In fact, while the county is projected to add approximately 20,000 new residents between now and 2025, Fernandina Beach will likely only add some 1,100 to its population. Rieck said the median age in the city is 65 with less work-age residents and fewer children, which means reduced enrollment in Fernandina Beach schools. He also noted that taxable property values in the city have been decreasing since 2008. More than 55 percent of total taxable property value in the city comes from Rayonier and Rock Tenn making it important for the city to diversify its economic base. Rieck said the NCEDB continues to work on targeting areas in the city for development, including the Central Business District, Eighth and Fourteenth Streets and the airport. Rieck also explained the importance of the Crawford Diamond Industrial Park to Nassau County’s economic development efforts. He said the 1,800-acre site near Callahan, which has been certified by the state for rapid development, could attract such employers as food processing facilities, automotive parts and components manufacturers or industrial machinery plants. The Crawford Diamond, according to Rieck, has the potential of bringing thousands of jobs and upwards of $430 million annually in economic impact to the county.