County update subject of Ponte Vedra Chamber meeting


In an update on the state of the county Wednesday, Feb. 24, St. Johns County Deputy Administrator Joy Andrews gave members of the Ponte Vedra Beach Division of the Chamber of Commerce a rundown on several issues of interest to local residents.

Many of the items she discussed related to growth.

“People are moving from all over the country to St. Johns County,” she said.

Since 2010, the population has increased 40% to 265,000 people, making St. Johns the 10th fastest growing county in the nation.

At the same time, businesses are inquiring about relocation here. Andrews called that “great news for our residents.”

“As long as you want to work, there’s pretty much a job for you,” she said, citing the county’s unemployment rate of 3.6% in December.

In fact, she said the county seemed to be at a “crossroads of growth” where it can be selective in what kinds of business it wants. She emphasized the need for a strong job market for the next generation.

“What kind of jobs do we want to create right here at home for them?” she asked rhetorically.

She listed several projects underway that will create or help retain jobs. Among these was the link, a 22,000-square-foot coworking space and innovation incubator being built in Nocatee; the newly complete PGA TOUR global headquarters, which has the capacity for 1,100 employees; the Ascension St. Vincent’s hospital, which recently broke ground and will create about 450 new jobs; the Baptist HealthPlace at Nocatee; and Flagler Health+ villages at Durbin Park, Murabella and Nocatee.

The medical facilities are expected to promote the creation of related businesses in their vicinity.

Also on the horizon are five new hotels in St. Augustine and a proposed Baptist Medical Center hospital at State Road 207 and Interstate 95.

Andrews offered some reasons so many people want to live here.

For the ninth consecutive year, St. Johns has been named the healthiest county in the state. The school district has been named the one in Florida where students are most likely to succeed. Nocatee was recently ranked among the top-selling master-planned communities in the nation. St. Augustine was named one of the 11 Best Small Towns in America. And St. Augustine Beach was ranked number 8 on the list of the 25 Best Beaches in America.

Andrews also listed a number of projects in the works for the Ponte Vedra area.

These include installation of a new water main along Ponte Vedra Boulevard, installation of protective sand on berms along the coast, sidewalk improvements at L’Atrium Circle and sidewalk construction along Palm Valley Road, and intersection improvements at Solana Road and State Road A1A, Roscoe Boulevard and Palm Valley Bridge, Mickler Road and S.R. A1A, and several other places.