Introduction (

Communities that take action to build and enhance their local economy 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 vision. A community that participates in this technical assistance program is committed to innovative strategies that promote partnerships, community design, and a viable economy. This partnership program 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) and Enterprise Florida as well as state-wide recognition and celebration of their successes along the way.

Competitive Florida: Community - Economy - Leadership

How the Program Works

  1. Get to know you. If your community is interested, DEO will get to know the community, listen to needs and answer any questions about the program.
  2. Look at your Strategy. Does the community have a clearly defined, holistic vision for economic development with actionable projects to accomplish its goals? If so, great? How can we help with implementation? If not, the first step is to create or improve this strategy.
  3. 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 them and begin to build their scope for this effort. DEO may allocate resources for these tasks which may include DEO staff time, grant funding or a mix of both types of resources through a competitive grant application process. If a community does not yet have a sufficient strategy, the improvement or development of this document, along with mapping community assets is the first step. Communities that already have this in place can request other types of resources and support.
  4. Make a commitment. An interested community will need to submit an application detailing their request for technical assistance, along with a series of letters demonstrating that elected, business and community leaders are on board.
  5. Start off with a bang. Once approved, the activities the community will tackle will be broadcasted to the public. 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 their competitive advantage.
  6. Set Benchmarks. It's important to set achievable goals for a community with timeframes for completion. The community will prioritize and group the actions into clusters that make sense and identify benchmarks to demonstrate successful points.
  7. Do Something. The community will work together to tackle the scope of work and develop actions to be completed that will help them meet their first benchmark.
  8. Review progress. It's important that the community continue to review its progress along the way and choose a new project or action to maintain momentum.
  9. Share your success and engage in the network. The community will engage in the Competitive Florida network and share their 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 success and lessons learned from their peers.
  10. Celebrate! DEO will celebrate with the community and formally recognize their achievements after they reach the first benchmark.Once a community has gone through the steps above, it's considered a member of the Competitive Florida Partnership 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 about successful community efforts 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; 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 future 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 community and work to ensure that their built environment and regulatory structure support their path 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 they currently have, 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.


  • Julie Dennis

    (850) 717-8478
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