How We Do It

About VisionFirst Advisors

After 30 years of leading public and private economic development organizations in multiple states, Gray Swoope launched VisionFirst Advisors in 2015, an economic development consulting company that provides services focused on:

  • Location advisory and site selection
  • Labor and market intelligence
  • State, regional and local economic development strategy
  • Incentives for negotiation and compliance
  • Marketing and communications strategy and implementation

We are a customer-driven consulting firm, acting seamlessly as an extension of the client team to develop strategy, solve problems and deliver results while mitigating risks and barriers. We utilize our experience and business acumen to support clients with their location strategies and economic development competitiveness. We know that no two projects are the same, and our approach is tailored to each client.

In 2024, Gray Swoope and Griff Salmon acquired VisionFirst Advisors, realizing a long-term goal of being an independent entity. As part of this new structure, VisionFirst has entered into a strategic partnership with The Southern Group, the largest lobbying firm in Florida.

The natural synergies between each firm’s client base provides holistic solutions for businesses and organizations looking to move or expand in markets nationwide.

VisionFirst’s site location and incentive negotiation expertise in industries such as aerospace and defense, information technology and alternative energy, combined with The Southern Group’s unparalleled influence in Florida and throughout the southeast, offers a winning recipe for clients in a wide array of business segments.

Our Values

In addition to Gray Swoope, VisionFirst is solidified by a team of professionals that have worked together at the executive level of state and local economic development entities for years. Today, they are growing the private practice. The same axioms for success exist today at they did years ago, when they started collectively leading together:

These truths are part of the VisionFirst culture and are represented through our client work. As third-party advisors, we recognize the fact that our actions, as representatives, intentional or unintentionally, are a reflection onto our clients.

Our Approach

VisionFirst is more than a consulting business with connections. Our staff has experienced economic development at every level, both from the perspective of the local community and the corporate client.

Utilizing innovative research and personal outreach combined with our collective team’s 120 plus years of experience…

We look at today’s most complex economic development challenges, listen to our client’s vision, form a strategy to achieve the objectives and connect the people that can make a difference and deliver value to our clients.

We develop tailored solutions that analyze conditions and chart a clear course to reach objectives. That process includes making sure the right team is in place for necessary execution. Finally, we act to deliver results that are clear, measurable and add undeniable value for our clients.

As experienced economic developers, site selectors as well as marketing and communications professionals, we are strategic thinkers who can break down strategy for our corporate, economic and community development clients into actionable plans.

Our team’s capacity is the result of demonstrated expertise in:

  • Serving as a trusted partner with confidential site selection projects and leveraging that knowledge to help communities.
  • Cross-walking targeted industry sectors to strategic investments in human capital and talent pipeline to compete in a global marketplace.
  • Understanding the economic development market and the importance of leveraging available talent, funding and assets.
  • Leveraging marketing and communications strategies to increase the business development project pipeline.
  • Helping corporations and economic and community development professionals create and sustain high-performing teams that significantly increase partnerships, performance and positioning.
  • Convening institutions, community leaders, stakeholders and taxpayers to create synergies for transformational community impact.


  • Extensive economic development expertise at all levels of government.
  • Experience in working with businesses across multiple business sectors to achieve mutual objectives.
  • Action oriented — a demonstrated ability to get things done.


  • Ability to see the big picture — while implementing a myriad of details.
  • Focused on the mission while continually looking ahead.
  • Understand the importance of gathering diverse stakeholder voices.


  • Access to VisionFirst Advisors’ vast connections and those of its partners.
  • Tactical skill to bring together individuals, organizations and leaders all laser focused on a specific action.
  • Adept at opening doors to knowledge and opportunity.


  • Understanding the voice of the client.
  • Consultative approach to identify issues and provide strategy with solutions to meet objectives.
  • Ability to uncover trends and disruptions to develop forward-thinking strategy.

Ready to maximize your competitiveness in the field and achieve better results?

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