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Don Taylor, new executive director of the Citrus County Economic Development Council, takes the helm at a busy time.
His first EDC meeting in his new role coincided with a visit from economic development consultant Jeanette Goldsmith on Wednesday. And this Thursday is Citrus County Legislative Day in Tallahassee.
But Taylor has always been busy. The Sugarmill Woods resident recently retired from Progress Energy, where he was financial manager for the Crystal River nuclear plant. He spent two years as president of the United Way of Citrus County board and is wrapping up six years of leadership service with the organization.
Taylor is on the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce board and chairs the legislative committee. He had been the chamber’s president-elect, but is resigning to avoid any conflict of interest. He is on the board of trustees for the College of Central Florida and serves as treasurer for the Art Center of Citrus County. He is finance chairman for his church and a member of the Crystal River Rotary Club.
He also has previous experience with the EDC, serving as a board member and treasurer.
Taylor still finds time to enjoy fishing and kayaking. And he is serious about backpacking, devoting a couple of weeks to it every year.
“We need to turn the corner on economic development in the county, with the current economic situation we have,” Taylor said, citing the loss of the loss of the nuclear plant and home construction, mainstays in the economy. “We have a ways to go before we can do that.”
He said the EDC needs to look at bringing new businesses into the county, but equally as important is to maintain the businesses already here.
“We need bold leadership and collaboration to make all that happen,” he said. “I see the EDC as kind of a focal point to coordinate all of that within the county.”
Taylor would like to see more private funding coming into the EDC, with a long-range plan of making it independent, supported by private-sector funds.
He would also like to increase public awareness about the EDC. “We need to get out there in front of a lot of organizations and make presentations on who the EDC is, what our initiatives are and what our future goals are.
“We have to let people know that we are a driving force in the county for economic development.”
He said one of his goals is to spend a lot of time meeting with people, making presentations and being the face of the EDC.
Taylor said the input from Goldsmith provides a big step toward developing a plan for marketing potential business sites.
“It will help us define how we move forward,” he said. “The Duke economic team said they will work with us.
“We need to establish what we have available here,” he said, “then we can target what kind of industries would be interested in the sites that we do have available. Then we can go out and market to those types of industries.”
He listed the County Road 491 medical corridor and the enterprise zone as other assets for attracting new development.
Taylor thinks Port Citrus is a viable future asset and, depending on what comes out of the study, is something to be pursued.
“We just need to make it work,” he said.
For economic development, “we need to get better organized, we need to get our name out there,” he concluded. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Contact Chronicle reporter Pat Faherty at 352-564-2924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.