Introduction (

Communities that take action to build and enhance their local economies while staying true to what makes them unique have a competitive advantage. Seizing that advantage, the Competitive Florida Partnership helps a community value those assets that makes them special and challenges them to set realistic goals for advancing their economic development visions. A community that participates in this technical assistance opportunity is committed to innovative strategies that promote partnerships, community design, and a viable economy. This partnership will create a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders who gain ideas on how to reach their goals through the success and lessons learned from their peers. A community that makes a formal commitment to the Competitive Florida Partnership receives enhanced support from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) as well as state-wide recognition and celebration of their successes along the way.

Competitive Florida: Community - Economy - Leadership

How the Partnership Works

If you're interested in the Competitive Florida Partnership, we will:

  1. Get to know you. If your community is interested, we'll get to know you, listen to your needs and answer any questions you may have about the opportunity.
  2. Discuss your Strategy. Does your community have a clearly defined holistic vision for economic development with action-oriented projects listed to accomplish its goals? If so, great! How can we help you with implementation? If not, the first step is to create or improve this strategy.

Once you decide to participate, you'll need to:

  1. Make a commitment. An interested community will need to submit a proposal detailing their request for technical assistance during the open request for proposal period, along with a series of letters demonstrating that community leaders are on board.
  2. Pick the path that works for you. DEO recognizes that Florida's communities have different needs and each path will be unique. The community will decide which activities make sense for it and begin to build their scope for this effort. DEO will allocate resources for these tasks which may include DEO staff time, grant funding or a mix of both types of resources. If a community does not yet have a sufficient strategy, the improvement or development of this plan, along with mapping community assets and potentially a market analysis, is the first step. In addition, communities can select assistance that may support the development of their strategies. Communities that already have a strategy in place can request other types of resources and support.

The following support may be offered to selected communities:

  • Community Asset Mapping. DEO Staff will facilitate an asset mapping exercise (see What is Asset Mapping?) with participation of other state agencies through the Rural Economic Development Initiative resulting in a report (see City of Port St. Joe Competitive Florida Asset Mapping Report) that details suggestions on how the community can build on existing assets and make improvements.
  • Market analysis. DEO can provide technical assistance to help the community gather important data and analyze trends and opportunities in order to better understand what is feasible.
  • Improve or develop an Economic Development Strategy. The community may receive assistance to help create or improve its Economic Development Strategy, emphasizing an actionable implementation plan.
  • Resource matching to implement actions. With assistance from our Rural Economic Development Initiative partners, DEO and other state agencies can help the community identify resources to implement the actions on its list. Please note that this does not guarantee that the community will receive funds.
  • Economic Development Training. DEO or a partner agency can identify economic development training specific to a community's needs for its public officials, elected officials and citizens.
  • Advice on a specific project. DEO staff and partners can travel to your community to provide guidance on a specific project.
  • Feedback on local comprehensive plans. At the request of the community, DEO can informally review the local comprehensive plan to determine whether or not the policies in place support the stated goals the community is trying to achieve. This may include feedback on ways the comprehensive plan could be improved to better achieve goals.
  • Peer-to-peer constructive learning experience. Two partnership communities will tour one another's communities and offer insights based on their experiences. This can be incorporated into the asset mapping exercise.
  • Community Branding. For communities with an existing economic development strategy, DEO can provide grant assistance to develop a brand that captures what makes the community unique, with a concise slogan for future use.
  • Additional Assistance. Do you have an additional suggested task that would complement your efforts that is not covered above? Suggest it as part of your proposal, including guidance that will help other communities complete the same task. If approved, you could receive additional funding to implement this task and you will help us further develop the types of services and tools offered through Competitive Florida.

If selected, together we will:

  1. Get people on board. Once approved, the activities the community will tackle will be shared with all stakeholders. Business leaders, elected officials and community organizations will be invited to kick-off the effort and learn more about the community's efforts to increase its competitive advantage.
  2. Start a conversation. The community will invite all residents and business owners to share their ideas on economic development and improvements through a community conversation or event where the public talks and local/state staff listen.
  3. Do something. The community will work together to tackle priority actions to be completed, as outlined in the scope of work as well as a project that is easy and visible to build momentum behind the efforts.
  4. Celebrate! DEO will celebrate with the community and formally recognize the major successes accomplished to date.
  5. Share your success and engage in the network. The community will engage in the Competitive Florida network and share its success story and accomplishments with other communities working to increase their competitive advantage. The goal is to create a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders who gain ideas on how to reach their goals through the experience of others.
  6. Review progress and pick a new action or project. It's important that the community continue to review its progress along the way and choose a new project or action to maintain momentum.

We want to help you succeed!

Once a community has gone through the steps above, it's considered a member of the Competitive Florida network. Our goal is to help you succeed in implementing your vision for economic development and we will be available to provide continued support. Success stories and best practices from our network of communities will be featured on our website.

Build on a Community's Unique Assets

Asset-based economic development is a bottom-up approach that builds on existing local resources to strengthen the economy. This approach focuses on a community's tangible and intangible assets combined with economic advantages and how these can be leveraged into sustainable economic growth and prosperity. Assets in a community may include but are not limited to: individuals and human capital; associations and voluntary networks; political advocates; historical and cultural resources; natural landscapes (including renewable and nonrenewable material resources); financial assets; the built environment including transportation networks, communications facilities, utilities, public facilitates and commercial buildings); and institutions such as schools, hospitals and government agencies. DEO will work with communities to identify these assets and facilitate a conversation that will result in new ideas through existing channels of communication.

Ways to Make Florida's Communities More Competitive

DEO recognizes that not all community needs are the same and each journey will be different. For this reason, the Competitive Florida Partnership encourages the participants to come up with a plan that meets their needs while at the same time allowing for flexibility to account for new opportunities that present themselves along the way.

Communities can be likened to a variety of storefronts with different visions for how they should operate based on their values, assets and the customers they would like to attract. Some want to be a leader in value and variety, while others may prioritize enhanced atmosphere and customer service. Others may focus on specialty or high-end products or a combination of all of these factors. All of these stores may sell similar products, but the way they market and present these products can vary a great deal. In the same way, communities should have visions for their futures that are grounded in what is important to them and what makes them unique. Their mix of land uses, services provided, and aesthetic appeal are likely different and should reflect their vision for the future. Communities participating in the Competitive Florida Partnership determine the appropriate vision for their communities and work to ensure that their built environment and regulatory structure support their paths to the future.

After completing or enhancing the multi-year strategic plan for economic development, communities are strongly encouraged to prioritize:

  1. the development of an overarching economic development organization and
  2. updating their local comprehensive plan to serve as a guide for economic development in the future.

DEO advocates for a holistic approach to job creation that goes beyond recruitment of new businesses and industries. For this reason, the components listed below should be considered when determining what to include in your economic development vision and strategy. There are many actions a community can take to attract new industry and keep the ones it currently has, while working to build partnerships and encourage innovative community design. In the future, you'll be able to visit our website for more information on ways to increase community competitiveness under the topics below:

  1. Whole community approach to planning and implementation.
  2. Retain current businesses and support expansion.
  3. Attract new businesses and industries.
  4. Build human capital and develop the workforce.
  5. Encourage innovation and entrepreneur-ship.
  6. Preserve sense of place.
  7. Build community leadership.
  8. Encourage commercial district revitalization.
  9. Improve resiliency to disasters.
  10. Provide quality education.
  11. Increase the availability of affordable housing for the workforce.
  12. Provide and promote recreational opportunities.
  13. Ensure the availability of quality healthcare facilities.
  14. Promote sustainable building and economic development practices.
  15. Support neighborhood revitalization.

Asset Mapping Reports

DEO Staff, with input from other state agency partners through the Rural Economic Development Initiative developed the following reports for each community detailing feedback from the asset mapping exercise:

Resource Matching Reports

Upon the completion of the community economic development strategy, DEO Staff, with input from other state agency partners compiles potential resources to help the community implement the actions identified. The reports below were developed for each of the pilot communities:

Additional Information

To receive email notifications about the Competitive Florida Partnership, including the announcement of the next opportunity to participate, please submit the following information:

For more information, please see the contact information in the upper right corner of this webpage.


  • John Reddick

    (850) 717-8485
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