Mayor Lenny Curry wants to put his longtime business partner on the board that oversees downtown development, a nomination that comes at a critical time for the agency as it will soon need to replace its recently departed chief executive officer and negotiate potentially pricey deals on a handful of high-profile downtown projects.
Our Florida Times-Union news partner reports the nomination of Todd Froats, the CEO and co-founder of ICX Group, is unusual because he and Curry have maintained close and significant financial ties, and Froats has played a role in the mayor’s political rise. If approved by the City Council, Froats would be one of the nine unpaid board members who oversee the Downtown Investment Authority, a relatively new agency started with much fanfare in 2012 that aims to boost downtown revitalization.
Froats would replace Jack Meeks, an accountant and well-known Springfield developer, whose term had expired.
“Mr. Froats is a decades-long resident of the city and serves as CEO of multiple successful businesses, with a headquarters in downtown Jacksonville,” said Brian Hughes, the mayor’s chief of staff, in a statement that did not address the financial interests shared by the two men. “He is a father, experienced financial accountant, businessman and citizen who cares deeply about this city. We look forward to favorable consideration of his appointment by City Council.”
Curry and Froats, both senior managers at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, decided to leave the company in 2002. They started ICX Group — a professional-services staffing firm — with a credit card, initially working out of an office suite across the street from a Dave & Buster’s. Today, the firm works out of SunTrust tower in downtown, which is well within the Downtown Investment Authority’s jurisdiction.
That’s a story Curry shared on the campaign trail in 2015 as he sought to sell himself to voters as a business man with the know-how to set the city’s finances straight.