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Leisure And Hospitality Lead Northeast Florida's Job Growth

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Florida continued to add jobs in December. That’s according to Friday’s numbers from state Department of Economic Opportunity.

In Jacksonville, businesses like restaurants and hotels saw the biggest boost.

Jacksonville’s jobless rate fell slightly to 4.5 percent, below the state average. Northeast Florida added more than 16,000 jobs in a year, and much of that came from an unlikely source in what’s not typically seen as a tourist destination, says Economic Opportunity Department Director Cissy Proctor.

“The leisure and hospitality industry is the fastest growing sector this past year with over-the-month additions of 5,500 jobs,” she says.

At Brooklyn’s Unity Plaza in Jacksonville, power drills, hammers and saws echoed through the site of a soon-to-open restaurant and bar called HOBNOB.  Owner Alan Cottrill says this may not have been possible 10 years ago.

“The change is significant,” Cottrill says. “We still are a small town. Everybody refers to that, but we’ve certainly begun to take on the energy and the vibrancy of a big city.”

Aside from owning HOBNOB, he runs a contracting company that builds other bars and eateries.

Cottrill says he foresees growth continuing as Jacksonville rebrands itself as a tourist destination. HOBNOB will open its doors this March