From Florida Politics

The move pairs state and local lobbying efforts with economic development site selection and community strategy.

Florida-based lobbying giant The Southern Group and one of the country’s leading economic development firms VisionFirst Advisors kicked off the new year with a bang.

The duo announced their strategic partnership in a move that pairs state and local lobbying efforts with economic development site selection and community strategy. Both client bases now benefit from a turnkey solution for expanding business throughout the country, and the Southeast where the lobbying firm has a commanding footprint.

“When we talk about growing influence, this is what we mean,” said Paul Bradshaw, Chairman of The Southern Group. “It’s about more than just being a bigger, better lobbying shop – although we are doing that too. It’s about finding new business segments and partnerships to better serve an ever-expanding client base. Sometimes 1+1 equals 3.”

VisionFirst understands growing and scaling businesses. The Florida-based firm works in nearly every state and provides both site selection services and comprehensive strategic solutions, including marketing and communications as well as workforce intelligence for businesses considering expansion or relocation.

“This expands our footprint and our capacity,” said Gray Swoope, VisionFirst president and CEO. “Site selection and government relations frequently overlap – we will now have close and effective partners with whom we will work hand in hand to ensure our clients’ needs are met.”

Swoope founded VisionFirst Advisors almost 10 years ago, after having served for four years as the Secretary of Commerce for the State of Florida. His career in economic development spans decades and all levels of the profession. This partnership is the next evolution of VisionFirst, and his legacy in the economic development industry.

The Southern Group is the state’s largest lobbying firm, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary of influence and impact in Florida and beyond. The partnership is the next chapter in the firm’s expansion efforts, which has spanned the birth of TSG Advisors to a widening geographic footprint of its lobbying team to aggressive growth plans within its existing one.

“Relocating your company or expanding to a new state can be a complicated mix of site location, economic development strategy and government relations,” said Rachel Cone, Managing Partner and head of The Southern Group’s expansion efforts. “We are incredibly excited to partner with an organization of this caliber, as we grow in new and existing markets. And I am personally looking forward to working with Gray and his team once again.”

VisionFirst works with clients in both the private and public sectors. Private sector clients have included firms like Weyerhaeuser, the largest owner of timberland acreage worldwide, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee’s largest power provider.

On the public sector side, VisionFirst has worked with states like Illinois, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Florida to develop economic development plans that create jobs and attract investment to the state.