News and Media

DeSantis’ visits Nassau with $4 million check
June 29, 2022
- With a message strong on economic development, Gov. Ron DeSantis awarded the town of Callahan $4 million toward a new water plant at Crawford Diamond Industrial Park. DeSantis held a press conference Monday morning in The Pig Bar-B-Q with a standing-room-only crowd in attendance. Callahan town officials were on hand to accept the check. Mayor Matthew Davis presented DeSantis with a bronze town seal. “Not a bad day at the office, $4 million bucks,” the governor said. The funds derive from an economic development grant from the governor’s office, according to Callahan Public Works Director Mike Williams. Town representatives are working with Nassau County officials to obtain an additional $4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Pending contract negotiations and the receipt of funds, it could be a few more months before the water plant project breaks ground. It will take about two years to complete, Williams said.   The 1,800-acre industrial park, designated as a mega-site, can accommodate up to 10.5 million square feet of heavy industrial land use. Florida Power & Light purchased more than 1,300 acres in 2017 from Rayonier for $13.1 million.

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Ocean Highway and Port Authority executive director hired to lead port
May 19, 2022
- The Port of Fernandina will have, for the first time, an executive director if contract negotiations go forward for the Ocean Highway and Port Authority to hire David Kaufman. Port operator Chris Ragucci was appointed port director after Laura DiBella vacated the position in 2019. The port has been without a director since the OHPA Commission removed Ragucci from the position last August. The position has remained vacant since then due to a lack of funding. OHPA spoke to two candidates at a previous meeting, Kaufman and Noel Comeaux. At its May 11 meeting, commission Chairman Danny Fullwood said the port authority had ironed out the details of a contract with Kaufman. Fullwood had previously advocated for an executive director as opposed to a port director. He told the News-Leader he wants Kaufman to take on broader responsibilities than working to manage the port.

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Hurricane Preparedness Workshop hosted by NCEDB
April 29, 2022
- Florida’s hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30th. It is crucial to plan for your safety in an emergency. Now is the time to prepare for the risks associated with hurricane season to protect yourself and your loved ones when alerted by emergency officials. Please join us as our Panelists will be sharing tips and guidance on how to prepare for hurricane season this year. From lessons learned from Irma, Matthew, and the most recent tornado that unexpectedly hit Nassau County. We will have expert advice on what to do this year. EXPERTS INCLUDE: • Martha Oberdorfer, Deputy Director - Nassau County Emergency Operations • Royce Proctor, Marketing Director - Okefenokee Rural Electric Membership Corporation • Steve Turner, Owner - Turner Ace Hardware • Paul Schwend, Owner - Schwend Insurance

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Nassau County BRE Forum
February 23, 2022
- We are having a BRE (Business Retention and Expansion) Forum on March 3rd from 8 AM to 10 AM. The BRE program focuses on retaining our current businesses in Nassau County. We will be sharing our role in the community and have a panel of experts in Economic Development, Nassau County Planning, The Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Development, CareerSource, and education represented by Florida State College at Jacksonville - Nassau Center. One of the many initiatives out of the NCEDB three to five years strategic plan is to reinforce a unified, team-based approach to economic development. Come and enjoy some delicious breakfast created by Executive Chef Ian Kitch with the Culinary Arts Program at Nassau County's School District.

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FSCJ Nassau Center Receives Florida Job Growth Grant to Support Commercial Vehicle Driving Program Expansion
December 21, 2021
- Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) received a $3,181,791.70 Florida Job Growth Grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and Enterprise Florida to support the Nassau County Transportation Education Institute. Governor Ron DeSantis and DEO Secretary Dane Eagle visited FSCJ’s Nassau Center on Thursday, December 16, 2021, to announce the grant award which will allow the College to establish a designated truck driving training facility at the Nassau Center.

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Labor Challenges Persist
November 23, 2021
- As of this past summer, there were 9.5 million people looking for work and 9.2 million job openings — so, technically speaking, there isn’t a labor shortage. However, in addition to those who cannot go back to work because of COVID health concerns or childcare issues due to a continuation in remote learning, there is a mismatch between the skills of unemployed job-seekers and the skills necessary to fill the open jobs. Thus, although the economy has been recovering post-pandemic, significant challenges remain in labor supply-demand imbalances and a drop in labor force participation. Manufacturers would benefit by beginning to look to tech and automation as not just replacing workers but creating new jobs and programs that are better for workers and higher-paying. U.S. manufacturers need to prioritize retraining programs, access to STEM education, and training on vocational/trade skills if they want to attract labor to their industry. They also need to create a workplace culture where employees feel they are valued and have a plan for growth and development. According to Rocki Rockingham, Chief Human Resources Officer at GE Appliances, this means a safe and inclusive workplace as well as training opportunities and a focus on new technology as well as competitive pay and a robust benefits package that fits them at every stage of life. Employees also want to know what a company stands for in order to determine if the company’s goals align with theirs. Consequently, community engagement opportunities are also valued. Labor Shortages: The Disconnect and Possible Solutions (shrm.org)

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Ribbon Cutting for the Opening of the Crawford Road Extension
November 10, 2021
- The Board of County Commissioner hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in celebration of the re-opening of the newly improved Crawford Rd. The improvements included paving the 6.5 mile-long, two-lane dirt road connecting County Road 121 with the existing paved portion of Crawford Road, just west of US 301.  

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Meridian Waste Partners with Dossier Systems
August 30, 2021
- Meridian Waste, an integrated, non-hazardous solid waste services company, announced today a partnership with Dossier Systems, a leading provider of fleet maintenance management software.

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Newsweek’s Best Small Bank in Florida
January 5, 2021
- FFB Named Newsweek's Best Small Bank in Florida for 2021  October 22, 2020 by First Federal Bank First Federal Bank was recently named on Newsweek’s America’s Best Banks 2021 list as the Best Small Bank in Florida.  This distinction is the result of Newsweek’s assessment of 2,500 FDIC-insured banks, measuring 55 different factors ranging from banking accounts and customer service, to financial reports from the FDIC. “We are honored by this recognition, which emphasizes First Federal’s commitment to being a financially sound, community bank,” says FFB President and CEO John Medina. “Because we are a mutual savings bank, Newsweek acknowledged our ability to be more responsive to local customer needs. This accolade demonstrates that even through challenging times we remain committed to our purpose of providing stability to our customers, employees, and communities.” Recognizing the pandemic has altered the way individuals function on a daily basis, including the way Americans bank, Newsweek compiled a list of the best-in-class banking institutions. Newsweek partnered with Lending Tree to rank 2,500 FDIC-insured financial institutions based on a wide variety of fees, interest rates, account terms and conditions, digital services, customer service features, and bank profile. To read the complete article, go to www.newsweek.com/americas-best-banks-2021/best-small-banks-state First Federal Bank is a community-based mutual savings bank offering consumer and commercial banking solutions, services, and loans through banking offices in Florida’s Panhandle, North Central and East Florida, and coastal South Carolina. Mortgage, SBA and USDA customers are served through lending offices across the Southeast and Midwest. First Federal is headquartered in Lake City, Florida with assets totaling over $3 billiorom BauerFinancial, Inc., of Coral Gables, Fla. for more than two decades.n. First Federal has received a “5-Star, Superior” financial rating f

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Starting Point is One of Only 20 Selected for a National Project on Trauma, Racism, and Resilience-Oriented Care
October 14, 2020
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:          Laureen Pagel, Ph.D, CEO                        904.225.8280                         lpagel@spbh.org Starting Point Is One of Only 20 Selected for A National Project on Trauma, Racism, and Resilience-Oriented Care The Only Provider in Florida Chosen October 14, 2020 , Yulee, FL — Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare (SPBH) is one of only 20 providers nationally  - and the only one in Florida - chosen to participate in the Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented Equity Call to Action Community of Practice, sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health. This project will provide training to SPBH staff from a national team of experts to help them provide more informed treatment to individuals affected by trauma and/or systemic racism.   “Because there are a limited number of slots available for this training, Starting Point faced a very competitive process to become approved,” said CEO Dr. Laureen Pagel. “This recognition reflects the commitment we have to providing care to clients with the latest approaches. We know that trauma can often be intergenerational, and it can also be the result of lifelong systemic racism. Knowing how to identify and treat these issues will help our clients during their therapy. It also educates and informs our own staff, so they can identify these issues in their own lives.” Once the 12-session training is complete, Starting Point’s mental health professionals will have a completed plan to educate staff on the effects of trauma, micro-aggressions, inequity, and systemic racism for the individuals they serve.   “This is a 12-month learning collaborative focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Dr. Pagel said. “I am very proud that this has been an effort driven by our own staff. Our Diversity Steering Committee completed this competitive application process and will be the core implementation team. This is a very exciting opportunity for our organization.”   “Trauma-informed, resilience-oriented care asks not, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ but, ‘What happened to you?’ and ‘What’s strong with you?’, “ she said.   About Starting Point Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare provides mental health and substance abuse treatment services to children, teens and adults in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The non-profit agency serves more than 2,800 individuals each year and has been serving the region for more than 25 years. Starting Point is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). For more information, visit spbh.org.     ###

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