NEFBA: Clay County growth leads to expansion of communities, businesses

By Kathleen Chambless For Clay Today
Posted 9/15/21

CLAY COUNTY – The county has experienced massive growth in the last few years, especially in some of the more rural areas, such as Middleburg, Lake Asbury and Green Cove Springs. Part, if not all, …

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NEFBA: Clay County growth leads to expansion of communities, businesses

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – The county has experienced massive growth in the last few years, especially in some of the more rural areas, such as Middleburg, Lake Asbury and Green Cove Springs. Part, if not all, of that growth, is the result of the booming construction industry.

Keith Ward, current president of the Northeast Florida Builders Association and Vice President of Thomas May Construction, expects the growth will continue in Clay County, just like it is in St. Johns and Duval counties.

According to the 2020 census, there are roughly 218,300 residents currently in the county. People have shifted away from the cities in favor of safer and more family-oriented areas.

“We follow rooftops,” Ward said. As more homes and residential areas, more schools, retail, and community projects must follow.

Thomas May, which specializes in schools, has seen the growth firsthand. More students attending schools lead to more necessary renovations and expansions. As the county grows, more schools will have to be built.

NEFBA itself supports education as one of its primary tenants. As part of that, they provide an impressive apprenticeship program to students interested in the many fields of construction. Ward is a firm believer in the program, and he hopes it will continue to attract new talent and life to the industry. With roughly 11,000 member companies, apprentices with NEFBA work in various placements throughout the field while earning their degrees through a four-year institution. After completion of the program, apprentices leave with connections across Northeast Florida, and the skills to perform a job that’s always in constant demand.

Jacksonville’s expansion led to record numbers of permits in Clay County back in 2005. The number of permits as of this August reflects continued steady growth in the area. Clay County is a sought-after area with plenty of room for growth, and many people, including Ward and other members of NEFBA, are excited to see what this fresh growth will bring.

With the First Coast Expressway opening and set to be completed within the next few years, jobs will continue to follow, especially as the road system continues to expand and new hospitals and medical offices.

In Middleburg, as more companies and restaurants thrive – which is a benchmark for growth – other potential businesses consider where to open first or second locations.

As the county grows, Clay residents have more options for where to go, what to do, and who to see than ever before, and Ward said that’s always exciting news.

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