Introduction (www.FloridaJobs.org/CompetitiveFlorida)

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

If you're interested in the Competitive Florida Partnership Program, 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 program.
  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 application period, along with 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 them 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 strategy. Communities that already have a strategy in place can request other types of resources and support.
    • 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 that details suggestions on how the community can build on existing assets and make improvements.
    • Market analysis. DEO can provide grant assistance to help the community gather important data and analyze trends and opportunities in order to better understand what is feasible.
    • Improve or develop and Economic Development Strategy. The community may receive assistance to help create or improve their 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 your list. Please not 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 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, as appropriate.
    • Feedback on local comprehensive plans. At the request of the community, DEO can informally review their local comprehensive plan to determine whether or not the policies in place support the stated goals they are 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 communities in the program 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 your 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 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 their 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 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 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; 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.

Competitive Florida Partnership Opportunity - Fiscal Year 2014-2015

Competitive Florida Partnership Program

The Department of Economic Opportunity, Division of Community Development is currently accepting proposals from communities that would like to join the Competitive Florida Partnership Program. The application cycle is open through Wednesday, August 27, 2014. DEO anticipates selecting four additional communities to join this program for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

Background

Communities that take action to build and enhance their local economy while staying true to what makes them unique have a competitive advantage. Competitive Florida (see above - How the Program Works) an advanced component of our technical assistance efforts, helps communities map their strengths and identify what makes them unique then target opportunities and improvements that fit within their character. Understanding that there is power in collaboration, this program builds an active network of passionate community leaders who share ideas and learn from each other's experiences.

Eligibility

Eligible Communities include municipal and county local governments, with an emphasis on rural areas. Rural areas may include rural municipalities in an urban county.

Potential Assistance Provided through the Competitive Florida Partnership Program

Communities that are selected can receive both staff support from DEO and partnering agencies through the Rural Economic Development Initiative and grant funding. During the second year, communities will continue to receive staff support and may be eligible for additional grant support to complete tasks identified in the first year. All communities will be invited to participate in network meetings once they participate in the program, as an opportunity to learn from the experiences of other communities.

DEO recognizes that Florida's communities have different needs and each path will be unique. 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 document, 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 economic development strategy. Communities that already have a strategy in place can request other types of resources and support.

The following support may be provided 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 that details suggestions on how the community can build on existing assets and make improvements.
  • Market analysis. DEO can provide grant assistance to help the community gather important data and analyze trends and opportunities in order to better understand what is feasible.
  • Improve or develop and Economic Development Strategy. The community may receive assistance to help create or improve their 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 your list. Please not 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 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, as appropriate.
  • Feedback on local comprehensive plans. At the request of the community, DEO can informally review their local comprehensive plan to determine whether or not the policies in place support the stated goals they are 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 communities in the program 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 your 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 will help us further develop the types of services and tools offered through Competitive Florida.

Requirements for Participants

Participating Communities will be required to:

  1. Engage the public in an open dialogue on economic development through community conversations, public meetings and other creative forms of public outreach.
  2. Complete all tasks in the agreed upon timeframe outlined in the scope of work.
  3. Develop a case study that highlights current and past successes of your community.
  4. Attend community collaboration meetings (meetings with other Competitive Florida Communities) throughout the duration of the agreement.
  5. Attend the asset mapping exercise of another partnership community.

For more information on expectations for the Competitive Florida Partnership, please review Competitive Florida Partnership Expectations.

Proposal Components

Communities interested in participating in the Competitive Florida Partnership Program should prepare a proposal that includes the following components:

  1. Letter of Request. Eligible applicants will need to prepare a letter of request that details what they hope to get out of their experience with Competitive Florida and what makes them a good fit for this program. Eligible applicants are municipal and county local governments. The community should indicate what type of assistance they are interested in receiving based on the options above. Communities are encouraged to request all items that would be helpful, understanding that the Department cannot enter multi-year contracts and some of this work may be suggested as tasks for the future. This letter should also indicate who the point of contact will be for the community, should they be selected.
  2. Economic Development Strategy Review. Communities will need to complete a review of their existing economic development strategy using the crosswalk, Economic Development Strategy - Self Assessment to determine if it is comprehensive and actionable, if a plan already exists. The responses and feedback entered into this review crosswalk will be used to help develop the scope of work for selected communities. Communities that do not currently have a strategy or have a strategy that lacks sufficient information such as actions and projects are targeted as priorities for FY14-15.
  3. Economic Development Stakeholder Group/Steering Committee. In addition to public input, economic development strategy efforts should be steered by a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure it is comprehensive in approach. If your community already has an economic development steering committee, please include a list of its members and who they represent. If you community doesn't have an economic development committee, please provide a list of names (with organizations represented) that you will contact to help guide this effort as stakeholders. DEO suggests the following stakeholders Potential Community Stakeholders be considered for participation, as applicable.
  4. Letters of Support to Demonstration of Partnerships. Building and creating partnerships in a community to guide and implement economic development efforts, requires input from many different organizations. Letters of support from as many of the following organizations as possible will help demonstrate that your community has the partners needed to move forward with a comprehensive economic development effort.
    1. Support from the following agencies is required:
      1. Municipal Government(s). If the partnership is proposed at the municipal level, only one letter is required. If proposed countywide, all municipalities that will be included in the effort must submit a letter or support.
      2. County Government. This is required for both countywide and municipal level proposals.
      3. Local Economic Development Organization(s). This may include but is not limited to: County/City Economic Development Organizations, Chambers of Commerce and other government and non-government entities.
    2. Support from the following agencies is strongly encouraged and will greatly enhance the application:
      1. Community Action Agency. For information on which Community Action Agency is responsible for your community, visit the Florida Association for Community Action - CSBG Eligible Entities website.
      2. Regional CareerSource Board. For information on the CareerSource Board responsible for your community, visit the CareerSource - Your Local Team website.
      3. County School Board. This is encouraged for both countywide and municipal level proposals.
      4. Regional Planning and Economic Development Organizations. This may include but is not limited to: Regional Planning Councils, Regional Development Organizations and others as appropriate.
      5. Any other organizations or entities deemed appropriate by the community.

Tools for Increasing Community Competitiveness and Enhancing Economic Development Planning and Implementation (Optional Bonus Proposal)

One of the goals of the Competitive Florida Partnership Program is to develop tools that could be used by communities when creating or updating economic development strategies or implementing economic development projects or actions that increase their competitive advantage. If your community feels that there is an additional step or tool that would help you, please include a short synopsis of your idea along with a budget for the proposal. Included in the proposal and budget should be a tool or some sort of guidance to make the product beneficial statewide. The inclusion of additional tools is not required for applicants. Proposed tools will be funded at the discretion of DEO Staff based on their uniqueness, merit and statewide applicability. If a community decides to submit an additional tool or step in their proposal, the following information should be included:

  1. Name of the project or tool
  2. Detailed scope of work or services
  3. Benefits to the community
  4. Statewide benefits
  5. Additional partners included in the tool development
  6. Budget with tangible deliverables

Proposal Submission

Interested communities can submit proposals electronically or via mail. All applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

Electronic Submission. When sending requests electronically, send via email to: julie.dennis@deo.myflorida.com.

Mail Submission. When sending requests by mail send to:

  • Julie A. Dennis
  • Community Program Manager
  • Division of Community Development/ Economic Development
  • 107 E. Madison Street
  • Caldwell Building, MSC 160
  • Tallahassee, FL 32399

Additional Information

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

Contacts

  • Julie Dennis

    (850) 717-8478
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