Clay Chamber moves into new offices at Orange Park Town Hall

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 9/1/22

ORANGE PARK – Members of the business community and elected officials came out to the Orange Park Town Hall in droves late last week, but it wasn’t about government business.

Jon Cantrell, the …

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Clay Chamber moves into new offices at Orange Park Town Hall

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Members of the business community and elected officials came out to the Orange Park Town Hall in droves late last week, but it wasn’t about government business.

Jon Cantrell, the former Clay Today publisher, is the newly installed Clay County Chamber of Commerce President. The chamber hosted a ribbon cutting on Aug. 26. Mostly, members got to check out the facility, exchange contacts and reflect on the state of business in Clay.

Just past the town’s meeting chamber, former Orange Park Town Manager John Bowles and businessman Bill Garrison discussed the organization.

“He will do well,” Bowles said of Cantrell. “He will move the organization forward. I have no doubt about it.”

Garrison formerly chaired the county’s Economic Development Corporation, an organization with a different function though similar goals compared to the chamber. Garrison then referred to the $70 million Niagara water bottling plant in Middleburg. That’s the kind of industry that should be targeted for economic growth, he said.

“Our challenge has been to bring in some larger ones like Niagara,” Garrison said. “The new interstate (First Coast Expressway) facilitated that. They used to call it the bypass or the outer beltway, but that’s exactly what it is, it's bringing new economic growth into the county.”

The chamber left its Fleming Island location last year and later rolled out its Orange Park move-in date.

After the ribbon cutting, Chamber Vice-Chair Amy Miller said the chamber is now in the heart of Orange Park and has a central location within the county. Miller, of Asphalt Pavement Alliance, said Cantrell can help grow the chamber and reach out to every area of the county assisting current or potential business owners.

“We feel like we’re in a good place to reach other areas within Clay County. We welcome people to stop by and come and visit with us,” Miller said. “We think it’s good, as people go in to get business licenses, we’re right across from (the town of Orange Park) and people stop in to ask about the chamber.”

Orange Park Mall General Manager CEO and Chamber Chair Randy Bowman called the move a big step for a chamber. A new location and a new president is a great opportunity, Bowman said.

“(Cantrell) understands the businesses of Clay County. He’s deeply rooted in Clay County to transition to the chamber to lead in a new direction,” Bowman said.

Bowman said the location is a gateway into Clay County via U.S. Highway 17, but Wells Road, Kingsley Avenue and Blanding Boulevard are not far. Fleming Island, Oakleaf and Green Cove Springs each have short to moderate commuting times from the chamber's new home.

The chamber’s role is to look ahead, he continued.

“To be right on the main highway, that’s huge,” Bowman said. “There's always an opportunity. We evaluate that every day as a chamber. We’re taking this time to look at our business model, what we can do better to assist our members and what is needed.”

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