Pete Tesch, president of the Economic Council of Saint Lucie County (EDCSLC) explains how economic development can be especially beneficial for seniors and those who are contemplating moving to The Treasure Coast.
Booming Saint Lucie County owes much of its economic success to the EDCSLC and seniors, in particular, have benefited with more medical facility, a world class hospital, and equally world class physicians.
Since the funding for the EDCSLC is approved by a public vote, it is critical for everyone to know how the EDCSLC works and what kind of return voters get for their tax dollars spent to build up the local economy. It's a textbook explanation (that is not in textbooks, by the way) of how ordinary citizens benefit when an entire community is dedicated to improving the local economy, building the educational infrastructure and lays the foundation for a promising future.
The Great American Senior Show podcast is produced by Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing. This podcast is part of the network of podcasts streaming under the umbrella of the Pod National News Network. For more information about Yates & Associates or the Pod National News Network, contact Sam Yates at (772) 528-5185 or Sam@Yatespro.com. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
Yates & Associates is a full-service Public Relations and Marketing company serving select clients throughout the United States and abroad. For more information visit www.YatesPRO.com .
Hello everyone and welcome to another session of the Great American senior Show. I'm Sam Yates your gray haired host for the program today and we are actually on location in St. Lucie county in the heart of the Treasure Coast. And I have a special guest. He is the president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie county Pete Tash. Pete, welcome to the program.Pete Tesch:
Thanks for having me, Sam. It's great to see you.Sam Yates:
You know, I look at things that are going on from an economic standpoint, all over the state of Florida and the country. And here in St. Lucie County. There has been a lot going on under your direction. Let's see if we can break this down for the seniors in the audience and others who may tune in and listen. What is the St. Lucie County Economic Development?Pete Tesch:
First of all, Sam, thanks so much for having me. And again, it's great to see you. The EDC of St. Lucie county is a nonprofit, private organization. And our mission is to help create quality jobs for the community.Sam Yates:
How do you do that?Pete Tesch:
So a couple of things. One thing to make very clear is that we're a public private partnership. As a nonprofit group, we're run by a board of directors with many local business executives and community leaders. And again, with the mission of trying to help create jobs, working with local governments and our businesses and other stakeholders. We work with new and expanding businesses. So the key here is to provide sustainable jobs to our residents and our families. And we're the resource broker advocate on behalf of the business as we try to help existing companies expand or to attract and relocate new businesses. We focus primarily on what we term target industry. And those are companies that are in manufacturing distribution, could be back office operation, corporate headquarters, medical and other professional and business services.Sam Yates:
I know that our senior population is going to raise their hand and ask tax dollars, is this involving my tax dollars and what type of tax dollars either percentage or ballpark number does this involve?Pete Tesch:
Well, to give our listeners a little bit of perspective, our budget is about a million dollars a year, we raise about 65% of that from the private sector and somewhere between 35 40% is local government. So we have contracts to do economic development services. With St. Lucie County, the city of Port St. Lucie and the city of Fort Pierce. So there are tax dollars, general revenue dollars that are invested in our organization. We do a lot of measurement. We try to measure everything in terms of economic growth and job creation and what impact that has on the economy. And we do this using third party Economic Research firms. For example, the EDC working in concert with our local governments, we were able to expand or help attract 25 new and expanding companies that had a total economic output of $850 million over that time, both direct and indirect impact. And it also in terms of return on investment. It was for every dollar invested in these projects. It returned $221 to local governments here in St. Lucie County. So we're an investment organization and as you invest in the community and help grow the economy, then, you know, the rising tide lifts all boats in this situation.Sam Yates:
And I would imagine that as these businesses expand as the new companies come here, adding to that tax base, it ultimately can lead to our senior population in particular, but everyone not having to dig so deep into their pockets because there's more revenue and it's spread over a larger, larger area.Pete Tesch:
I would say stay on that as we expand the tax base and we grow better jobs for the community. This makes it a more vibrant, livable community. You know you you mentioned about education and health care and transportation. Some of those key issues. I got to think that with our great medical care system here in the community and the advent of having Cleveland Clinic, make their entrance into the Treasure Coast, that that's a result of having a growing population and, you know, a economy and a set of communities that are diversified and growing.Sam Yates:
I think that's one that most seniors in St. Lucie county and as a matter of fact, throughout the Treasure Coast, and to a large extent, the entire state of Florida and for some specifics nationally and worldwide, that some of the facilities here have become world class, and I know EDC has played a role in that. How, how have you helped to, to move that forward?Pete Tesch:
Well, one thing that's important is Rob Lord, the current president of Cleveland Clinic, Martin health as the chairman of our organization, so we and we have other health care executives. So you know, we're very, you know, we're grateful to have their participation and their expertise. So, for example, with Cleveland Clinic, you know, we helped make introductions in the community for their healthcare executives, and, you know, primarily they were very interested in, in this case, tradition, you know, tradition hospital, and now also the former vaccine gene therapy Institute. So we work very closely with Cleveland Clinic and the city of Port St. Lucie to arrange for that facility to now become the Florida Research and Innovation Center, where Cleveland Clinic, which has one of the largest biomedical research institutes in the United States, this is their first research facility outside of Cleveland, right here in Port St. Lucie. So we're happy to play a minor and supporting role in that. But, you know, the fact that we have, you know, this excellent health care system now in our community, lends the fact that we do have that growing vibrant economy here in Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County.Sam Yates:
And I know that a lot of those executives that you mentioned, when they look at an area and say, Cleveland Clinic, should we be there, it's more than just brick and mortar facility, they look at quality of life, they look at how the economy is doing. And certainly those were all factors I would imagine.Pete Tesch:
So all the things that are important to you, Sam, were important to Maureen and important to me now that I'm becoming chronologically gifted, is, you know, to look at some of these factors with regard to health care and education and you know, how those things all interact together, but particularly when businesses and corporate executives and site selectors are starting to looking at communities. They're looking at the educational system, they're looking at the cost of living, the affordability of housing. You know, can I get from point A to point B without being stuck in traffic, and, you know, other cultural, recreational, and other things that kind of make up the special and unique nature of St. Lucie county in the Treasure Coast.Sam Yates:
And Pete, I you know, if I were not the gray haired host of those great American seniors show I would be looking around the room who is he talking about? But Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, I have known Pete for a long time. And Pete, you've got some gray creeping egg on the sides here. So crow's feet. Yeah, yep. So it's, it is not hit has not taken its toll on either one of us. But certainly the aging process is at work here. On swamp land for we go back a long way. I might I might have a developer but that's so you know, I I, I chuckle as things have changed over the last few years, including ourselves. But one of the biggest changes has been the the COVID pandemic. What impact did your organization see not internally, but just from an overall workforce development, economic incentive to do anything during the pandemic?Pete Tesch:
Obviously, it was a very miserable time, Sam last year. Lots of uncertainty. A lot of individuals that lost their jobs lost their livelihoods. Intense disruption amongst our residents. You know, it was a horrible time. Some parts of the economy chugged along. Others fell flat on its face. So you know, you look at tourism, hospitality, retail, boom, we had, you know, well over double digit unemployment for a while. So, yeah, things were set back. And, you know, the negative consequences are, are still there, but they are mitigating just because of, you know, the growth, as you mentioned, in the beginning of the program with the state of Florida, and now the Treasure Coast. And things are starting to recover. But there's a certainly different mindset about the business that we're in the economy and business development as a result of the post COVID environment that we're in.Sam Yates:
I think a lot of people may look at your organization and say, Were it not for the organization helping to build a strong economic base here, things could have been much worse.Pete Tesch:
Well, I appreciate that. Sam, over the last 10 years, there's been a pretty significant transfer Nate transformation of the economy. You know, one of the the issues that we're confronted with is that our average earnings per worker in St. Lucie county is about 85%, of the Florida average. And you know, I don't know about you, or Marine, or, you know, my family, it's like, I want 100%, you know, to live on 85% is, is challenging. So, you know, we have a very growing and robust manufacturing sector. With that, the marine industry, along with now, we're seeing distribution and logistics, that industry sector being built, even in greater capacity along as we talked about with healthcare. So there's some dynamics in our economy that are positively impacting where we go. And I think it's also going to positively impact the course and the direction of the economy, in the post pandemic phase, because people don't want to live in huge metro areas in the northeast and the Midwest. And as you can see, we've had, you know, a tremendous influx of population.Sam Yates:
To that end, I know that as people drive around, or if you fly over the area, as you just said, there is a really significant amount of build out and growth and new houses. One of the the potential negatives and someone saying, Hey, I didn't move here to have all of that, how do you counter that and, and it's not a NIMBY, but people get used to a certain thing. How do we overcome that?Pete Tesch:
Well, I guess Sam, Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie counties kind of set up for growth. I mean, you know, you look at tradition, you look at the I 95 chord or, you know, you see the positive pro business, pro growth, attitudes and posture that our local governments have. So, yeah, I think from a short term, you know, we have to be conscientious of traffic and infrastructure. But kind of going back to the premise that if, as we expand the tax base, there's more resources for local governments as well as the state, you know, to help improve our transportation networks and our infrastructure. I mean, that that's an ongoing function of our local governments to be proactive on so yeah. I 95 you know, you drive on tradition Parkway or, or midway road, and it's like, my gosh, there, there's, there's a lot of people on the road. And anyway, getting back to the the part that making sure our local governments have enough resources to improve and expand our road network is the key to that.Sam Yates:
Well, I know when our local governments are looking at development, they do turn to you. I've seen it happening over the years where if Economic Development Council of St. Lucie county says we think this is a good idea, this is going to have a significant impact on our communities, a positive impact, and they generally listen to what you have to say. How do you get all of those entities to work together and Port St. Lucie Fort Pierce St. Lucie County, it's it's rather unique, that there's not a lot of sniping going on between the governmental sectors.Pete Tesch:
But we are fortunate here in this community that there is a spirit of cooperation and collaboration and again, obviously we're all human and we are We have to work together. But it seems, you know, we're trying to focus on some specific things. We can't be all things to everyone. However, you know, these things that revolve around business competitiveness and workforce readiness, and you mentioned infrastructure, and, you know, how do we interrelate with business expansion? You know, these, these are in our wheelhouse. So, you know, at least from a public policy aspect, you know, we, you know, we do the research, we do the homework on it on an issue, try not to politicize it, but, you know, keep it focused on the issue at hand. You know, like, for example, we're, we're really big on, on workforce readiness, talent acquisition, making sure that, you know, all our stakeholders are working on education, which is the engine for economic development. So, you know, we spent a lot of time and we've utilized consultants and put together various studies, indicating that, you know, we need to be collaborative, and take a leadership role in making sure that we have sufficient workers to operate our our places of work, the shop floor, the hospitals, etc. So, you know, we think that because of our board and the research that we do that, you know, we are a voice of authority in some of these subject matter areas.Sam Yates:
I have to agree with that. One final question. As I'm watching the clock, will you be able to come back for another session where we can talk about some other things I know, you're not into the retail, but there's a reason for that. And there's a couple of other items that I want to touch upon. So would you be a guest again, if invited back, Sam, I will gladly come back. My invitation is right here on the table. So, Pete, I look forward to that. And my special thanks again to Pete Tesh, the president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie county for being my guest today. Pete, I have to tell you, you are the first economic development professional that I have interviewed for the program. And there's a reason for that, because you are so progressive. And there are other Economic Development Councils and organizations throughout Florida in the country that haven't even thought about taking the message out to their publics this way. But I wanted you to be the first because we have had a long relationship.Pete Tesch:
So thank you, Sam, if, if I could also interject for those listeners out there. Our website is www dot your edc.com. And it's a wonderful collection. It's a excellent repository of reports and studies of all this stuff that we've talked about. You know, if if someone out there is having sleep issues, there's a lot of great information out there that might help andSam Yates:
You're a mind reader because that was my next question. How can people tap into it? It's a very fascinating resource that is updated on a constant basis. And I know that I have had people from all over the nation all over the world that have gone to the website and they quickly find out why this area is the Treasure Coast and why St. Lucie county Port St. Lucie Fort Pierce is the gym, the Treasure Coast.Pete Tesch:
Well said.Sam Yates:
Pete, thank you for being here. today. We're going to take Pete up on his acceptance of coming back and doing another program with us and what the future holds for his organization and how it all ties together. I'm Sam Yates and that's the way the program ends.