Boca business booms thanks to city’s economic development duo

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Kelly Kennedy and Jessica Del Vecchio receive recognition for their economic development efforts from Mayor Scott Singer. Submitted photo.

By: Marisa Herman
Associate Editor

Jessica Del Vecchio has helped businesses move to Boca, stay in Boca and expand in Boca.

The city’s economic development manager is part saleswoman part spokeswoman for selling the city of Boca Raton to the business sector.

The first to fill the role for the city, Del Vecchio is celebrating her fifth anniversary in the role this month.

“I love working for the city,” she said. “I am so invested in this city and I am so proud to work for this city.”

She has been part of major business wins for the city including: Modernizing Medicine adding over 800 jobs, keeping Cannon’s presence in Boca and helping OrangeTheory Fitness relocate its headquarters from Fort Lauderdale to Boca.

When she started in the role, she was a one woman office. Now, she has Kelly Kennedy, her economic development coordinator, making their entire operation a two-woman show.

In addition to working on keeping businesses in the city happy and attracting new businesses to the city, they produce a quarterly newsletter, share Boca business news on social media to their more than 40,000 followers, write a monthly column for the Boca Newspaper; and they do it all in house.

Five years ago, Del Vecchio said she began familiarizing herself with the business scene. She knew Office Depot’s global headquarters were in Boca along with ADT. She began walking what is now known as the Park at Broken Sound, taking pictures of the buildings and what tenants occupied them.

As she explored the business corridors of Boca, her list of Boca-based companies began to grow. So did her ideas of how to market Boca. Like creating a “Success Tour” where the mayor visits businesses and thanks them for their commitment to Boca.

“Boca sells itself,” Del Vecchio said. With amenities like beaches, golf courses and airport that statement makes sense, but Del Vecchio bundles the perks of Boca together and markets the city’s assets to CEOs across the country.

She does so with a full page ad in Waldorf Astoria’s publication that is distributed in hotels on four continents and 16 countries , in a commercial that aired during the Boca Raton Bowl and on the golf course at the Old Course at Broken Sound during the Boca Raton Championship.

And once she hooks a CEO into considering a corporate move to Boca, her work has only just begun.

Her office can create an incentive financial package to help lure the business to town if they agree to meet certain criteria that create more jobs for the city and increase economic development. The packages are created in partnership with state and county economic development entities.

Since 2010, the city has committed about $5.3 million to 43 companies, which has resulted in creating or retaining a total of more than 10,000 jobs in the city.

Some of those businesses include Yachtico adding 50 new jobs, MobileHelp adding 150 new jobs and Orbcomm adding 32 new jobs.

In the pipeline, the office has four projects in the works that will add a total of 197 jobs to the city. The largest one, “Project Doctor” will bring 75 news jobs. The companies are kept confidential.

The team can also offer concierge services like expedited permitting, a ground breaking ceremony and a ribbon cutting.

Behind the scenes, she has introduced CEOs to one another, set up meetings for the previous governor and worked with the state department to plan a consulate dinner for 24 guests at the Boca Resort.