Jacksonville Bold for 6.16.21: Jax’s fintech future

Banking DIgital Online Internet payment and financial technology FIntech concept.
Lenny Curry pushes for more tech to Jacksonville. The recruitment is starting to pay off.

Fintech future

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has pushed to bring Fintech businesses to town, and the recruitment push is paying off.

The latest was this week when SmartStream Technologies launched its first office in the Southeast on Jacksonville’s Southside.

SmartSeteam is getting a foothold in the Southeast.

The launch is modest: just 20 jobs. But it is a foothold for the London-based company in Jacksonville, one that will get bigger soon enough.

“SmartStream is the latest in a long line of companies that are recognizing Jacksonville’s growing prominence in the financial technology industry,” said Curry. “And this is just the beginning. The momentum is only going to continue to build as more companies realize the amazing opportunities our community has to offer.”

Curry has walked hand in hand with the Jacksonville Chamber on deals like this, and their arm JAXUSA was critical in recruitment.

“Talent is the key when companies are making investment decisions, and we’re seeing fintech companies from around the world open here because they know they can find the skilled employees they need to succeed,” JAXUSA Partnership President Aundra Wallace said. “We thank SmartStream for their investment here and welcome them to the growing list of innovative fintech companies in Jacksonville.”

Indeed, Dun & Bradstreet, also of London, is bringing presence to Jacksonville. A few weeks ago, it was rolled out at the Jacksonville Chamber, a showcase event for Chamber CEO Daniel Davis, who looks poised to run for Mayor.

Curry and Davis feel like continuity, and the money on the Republican side of the aisle is going toward Davis’ political committee, which raised over $200,000 in May. That may be a message to sell to companies like this as they relocate … assuming, of course, a strong Democrat like Donna Deegan doesn’t jump in the race.

Squad goals

U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, representing part of St. Johns County, is introducing a House resolution to censure four members of “the Squad” for comments he considers too “friendly” to Hamas.

Mike Waltz would like to squash ‘The Squad.’

Waltz, along with Reps. Jim Banks and Claudia Tenney, introduced a resolution Monday that would censure Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley for comments described as “defending foreign terrorist organizations and using rhetoric which contributed to anti-Semitic attacks across the United States.”

Waltz offered a statement in defense of the resolution.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to members of Congress openly defending terrorist attacks by Hamas against our close ally Israel nor their dangerous rhetoric which has contributed to anti-Semitic attacks across the country,” said Rep. Waltz.

“I’ve seen firsthand gross atrocities against women and ethnic minorities at the hands of the Taliban. I’ve personally been fired upon by terrorists hiding behind women and children and seen the Taliban place suicide vests on teenagers. For members of the U.S. Congress to make equivalencies to Israel and the American military, which puts its own soldiers at risk to avoid civilian casualties, is ignorant of the facts, shameful, and should be condemned in the strongest terms.”

Democrats control the House, so there is not a clear path for this partisan resolution. However, we will keep you posted.

Hubba Chuba

Yet another Republican with little political experience looks poised to attempt a challenge to one of the most seasoned and celebrated politicians in North Florida.

Long odds for Jon Chuba. Image via candidate.

Republican Jon Chuba of Jacksonville is filed in Congressional District 5, where Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee is the incumbent.

Lawson, who spent decades in the Florida Senate, finally got to Congress in 2016 when legally embattled Corrine Brown couldn’t raise money while under indictment. At the same time, Brown’s district was radically redrawn, cutting out the stretch that ran toward Orlando and replacing that with an I-10 corridor run to Leon County.

Chuba, who graduated from Duquesne University of Pennsylvania in 2010, works for an insurance company and is a youth minister.

“To me, the most important things in life are faith and family. I have always had a passion for religion and politics. Thanks to my faith and economic courses that I attended in college, I identify as Republican, both morally and economically. I understand firsthand how difficult it is to pay for college, find a decent-paying job and buy a home. Some of us have further to rise to make that happen, but in this country, anything is possible if we are willing to work hard for what we really want. What is important for Congress to do is to ensure that all people have the right tools and resources to make that happen. My father always said, ‘you can do anything you put your mind to,’ and I couldn’t agree more,” Chuba asserted on his campaign webpage.

Rising Star

U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Clay County and many other territories to the south and west, continues to be a rising star in the Republican Party, and she’s finding ways to capitalize on that profile.

Kat Cammack capitalizes on her rising star status. Image via Fox News.

Cammack was the point person for Republican messaging joined by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan on Monday’s Fox and Friends.

“We went from an America First President to an America Last,” Cammack said, regarding a proposed cybercriminal swap with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. “This is insane.”

Cammack noted that Darkside and other groups operate with state sanction in Russia, spotlighting the folly of potentially giving these criminals back.

Cammack and Jordan have teamed up with Young Americans for Freedom for a Campus Free Speech caucus, designed to fight what she called the “indoctrination” of the academy and the “vitriol from the liberal left.”

Cammack, the youngest member of Congress, is increasingly high-profile. CD 3 is currently a safe seat. In contrast to her 2018 battle royale battle for the GOP nomination, she likely isn’t facing serious competition unless maps drastically change in 2022’s reapportionment.

Build back better

Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out appointments this week, and Northeast Floridians have reason to celebrate.

Two Jacksonville area men are headed back to the Florida Building Commission, pending Senate approval.

Ron DeSantis rolls out appointments, and Jacksonville is thrilled.

The Governor is reappointing Michael Bourré of Fleming Island. He is President of the Florida Home Builders Association and serves on the Clay County Planning Commission.

Paul Jones, of Jacksonville, is the president and chief operating officer for W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor, Inc. Jones also heads back to the board.

Fried fumes

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Gov. DeSantis was trying to start a “race war” and a “culture war” when his Board of Education banned critical race theory concepts last week.

Fried debuted the argument in the Jacksonville market, starting the week making the contention on WJCT’s “First Coast Connect.”

Nikki Fired is blasting Ron DeSantis again, this time for heating up the culture war.

“This is another opportunity for the Governor to create a race war and cultural war inside of our state,” Fried told host Melissa Ross.

In addition to offering the Jacksonville market a radio hit to start the week, Fried also referenced Jacksonville issues in a fundraising plea on Monday. Specifically, she spotlighted the Acosta Bridge lighting controversy and the Governor’s decision to sign a competition ban for transgender athletes in women’s sports.

“As we’ve launched our campaign to break Florida’s corrupt system and give power back to the people, Ron DeSantis has doubled down on his cruel agenda,” the Fried campaign email noted.

Let’s do it again

Rev. Kim Daniels, who lost reelection in the August Democratic primary, is running for office again.

Daniels, a self-styled “Demon-buster,” hopes to return to the Jacksonville City Council, where she served from 2011 to 2015 in an at-large position.

The Council currently lacks a trained exorcist, so Daniels could fill a void there.

The Council could use a good exorcist. Image via FloridaPolitics.com.

This time around, Daniels seeks Council District 10: the former seat of Reggie Brown, a close ally of Daniels’ on Council when they both served. Of course, Brown is now out of the office and the incumbent — Brenda Priestly Jackson — filed for Sam Newby’s at-large seat. Newby is termed out in 2023.

Daniels is running as a Democrat again, surprising those who remember how she fumed last year about her “struggling” with the Democratic Party. Those feelings were mutual: Rep. Angie Nixon’s victory was driven by local Dems who had enough of the socially conservative Democrat.

But Daniels doesn’t need the Democratic Party, such as it is.

City elections, as we know, do not have Republican and Democratic primaries. In March, they can be won with 50% of the vote … unlikely in what will presumably be a crowded field. The top two finishers move on to the May general election, regardless of party identification.

This offers an advantage to Daniels, who will be better known than most of the field. Controversial though she is. She likens the entire process to solving a “Rubik’s Cube” — an interesting metaphor for what seems to be a coalition of political veterans dividing up campaigns years before they launch.

Midyette’s move

One of Jacksonville’s leading voices in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights will be working officially with Equality Florida going forward.

Jimmy Midyette is officially the North Florida Development Director for the group.

New hire for an equal rights group. Image via Jimmy Midyette.

Midyette is known best for the fight for the expanded Human Rights Ordinance, which now protects all citizens in the workplace, the housing market, and public accommodations.

“We’ve known and worked alongside Jimmy for many years and are very excited to have him as a member of our staff,” said Stratton Pollitzer, Equality Florida’s deputy director. “At a time of unprecedented attacks on the LGBTQ community, Jimmy’s deep ties to Jacksonville, his experience with Tallahassee and the Florida panhandle, his dedication to LGBTQ equality, and his record of working proactively with diverse communities make him a perfect fit for this role.”

“I’m excited to join the indefatigable team at Equality Florida in the fight for full equality for all LGBTQ people,” said Midyette. “These are the battles worth winning, and Jacksonville is a vital wellspring of energy and strength for this fight. Our strong LGBTQ community and steadfast allies have no quit in them, and neither do I.”

Durbin Park breaks ground

Flagler Health+ is breaking ground on its new health and wellness campus in St. Johns County’s Durbin Park development.

The 42.5-acre health and wellness center, between I-95 and State Road 9B, will include a hospital, outpatient surgical services and cancer care. The facility will also have other amenities such as walking trails and retail space.

Durbin Park is coming from the ground up. Image via Flagler Health+.

“We are creating a premier health and wellness destination. The campus has been designed to create a sense of community, deliver uniquely personalized experiences, and achieve the best possible health outcomes for all people,” stated Flagler Health+ President and CEO Jason Barrett. “We are proud of our 130-year legacy of service to St. Johns County and look forward to further advancing physical, social, and economic health for area residents with this new offering.”

Flagler Health+ bought the property in 2019 from GATE Lands, the real estate subsidiary of GATE Petroleum Company. Durbin Park will add 1,300 jobs to the area at completion.

Staff Reports


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