Prosperity Drenching Nassau County’s Shores

Nassau Sound Bridge, Amelia Island Shoreline (Amelia Island State Park)
Nassau Sound Bridge, Amelia Island Shoreline (A.I.S.P.)

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.


Like waves from the ocean, prosperity is drenching the shores of Nassau County – with a similar persistence.

The signs of prosperity are as obvious as a blast of Florida sunshine. Tourists are flocking here like migratory birds, filling up hotels and restaurants. (See related article “Five New Amelia Island Hotels Underway) As new residents arrive in droves from other places, large and small businesses follow. And municipal coffers are full.

The rising tide is helping to lift all boats, and all people. Nassau County’s unemployment rate has dipped to 3 percent, lower than most counties and the state itself. It is an exceptional number.

“People are working,” says Laura DiBella, the executive director of the local Economic Development Board. “I think that really speaks to how tight the labor market is here. There’s a job for you, from zero skill to high skill.”

DiBella tirelessly promotes the county, its resources, its amenities. She has plenty of material. All the while, her office is helping businesses obtain qualified workers.

Something new has developed recently, however. Employers are willing to train new employees and increase wages. To get new workers, businesses are even advertising higher wages (like mega-corporations such as McDonald’s). Nationally, wages increased by more than 3 percent this year.

Overall, most small businesses here are healthy and happy. Impediments from limited labor and rising wages are overcome by an expanding pot of customers.

Therefore, small-business confidence remains elevated. Area businesses are “in a positive position now,” says Sherri Mitchell, who oversees workforce development for DiBella’s office.

“A lot of employers are really happy,” says Mitchell, who has insight into the employment picture here. She regularly communicates with human resource directors in our area.

Even though many of the new residents are retired, there are enough workers to meet the demand. And DiBella remains confident that the labor pool will continue to be deep enough. “I would say it’s robust,” DiBella says. “We still have a very healthy working-age population.”

To fill some jobs, workers are coming from outside the area. So the radius of the labor pool is expanding by necessity, even into South Georgia. Still, the overall business environment remains fertile. “It’s all good,” says DiBella.

Steve Nicklas Financial Advisor
Steve Nicklas, Financial Advisor

 Steve Nicklas, CRPC®, is a financial advisor with a U.S. brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns regularly appear in weekly newspapers in North Florida and in South Georgia, and on his website at He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected]. _______

Investment Perspectives with Janney’s Mark Luschini

Readers are invited to a complimentary presentation featuring Mark Luschini, Janney’s chief investment strategist. “Seeing the Picture When the View Is Less Than Clear” is an outlook on the economy and markets and the primary factors that could influence investment performance in 2019. Luschini is regularly seen on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News.

The event will be 5-7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce, 961687 Gateway Blvd., Fernandina Beach. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. For information or to RSVP, please call Asante Smalling at 904-280-5350 or the local Janney office at 904-572-0265.