Goals and Accomplishments
- Innovar Structures moved into the former Winn Dixie building. This company specializes in container homes and they will be manufactured here locally. Once in full production, they hope to employee 100 people.
- Carlton Street is in the design stages to extend the road from Northboud 17 to connect to MLK. It is hoped that with this extension that there will be growth in the area of the new Advent Health Hospital. It will also make access to Highway 17 easier for the residents in the MLK are.
- Cesaroni Technologies announced that they will be locating in our Commerce Park. They currently have locations in New Mexico, Florida and Toronto. Space Florida was working with them and referred them to our office. The location here will be the manufacturing of finished goods, some research and development and non-energetic components.
- Our water and sewer project is still moving forward. The construction portion in the area of Northbound 17 through to MLK has been completed.
- With the help of the Economic Development Authority, Steele Equine has been able to expand their practice. They specialize in the vetirinary service, treatment and care of performance sport horses. The expansion will include fit horse and rehabilitation services.
- The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) applied for and was awarded funds from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. Those funds will be matched by the IDA and are being used in the development of the south end of the Commerce Park.
- The Mosaic Company is continuing to mine. The next area they are working towards is the Ona area. The Economic Development office and other parties have been working with Mosaic to work out an agreement, much like the first Mosaic agreement.
- To help with receiving additional funding, Hardee Fresh has requested to purchase their building from us.
- The new Florida Hospital building is complete and ready to begin business.
- Our ag test plot has become well known in our area and surrounding counties. South Florida State College, Highlands County campus, has applied for a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) grant and asked for us to assist them with the planting and care taking of their olive plot they will be planting.
- Florikan has decided to go ahead and purchase their facility from us. They have already outgrown their space and will be adding on to their facility.
- Water and sewer has now moved to the Northbound 17 through to MLK area.
- Our partnership with the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is continuing. The CRA has a client that has purchased the old Palmetto Clinic and will be renovating this into commercial and residential spaces.
- The IDA has partnered with the University of Florida (UF) & the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS.) Our ag plot would be the designated south-Central Florida Research site. We were able to do this with the help of the Florida Olive Council. Since doing so, we have been grafting different variety of olive trees and studying how they are progressing in our climate.
- We have begun discussions with Hardee Fresh. They will be growing leafy greens with the use of LED lighting and plan to go into the former Southeast Modular building.
- Our water/sewer corridor project is growing. The design and engineering was done during the last year and now the construction phase is ready to begin.
- Florikan’s building is complete and a grand opening was held in late 2015.
- The Economic Development Impact of the IDA report was first completed in October 2013. It covered the years 2006-2011. The IDA asked the Florida Institute of Government to come back and include additional years, 2012-2015. According to their research, the projects supported by the Economic Development Council (EDC)/IDA over the last 10 years will generate 557 total permanent jobs in the county. Workers will receive approximately $218.6 million in workers’ earnings as a result of these projects over a 10 year period for each cohort of projects.
- We have again partnered with the CRA to contribute funds for the housing initiative. The CRA has two projects that will bring both commercial and apartment spaces to downtown Wauchula.
- With the decline in citrus, the EDC/IDA has been working on ways to help diversify our agriculture industry. We have 20 on the south end of our Commerce Park that has been dedicated to serve as a test plot to see what other items can be grown here. Several different varieties of olives have been planted, along with hops, pongammia pinnata and pomegranates.
- Work on the water/sewer corridor is still moving right along. The plan is to continue down South 17 and across Will Duke Rd.
- An RFP (request for proposal) for a fill line contractor has been issued. The new Incubator/Accelerator, now named Innovation Place, will have a fill line that is capable of filling small runs. Most filling companies have a minimum run of 5,000. Small startups are usually unable to afford the costs of such a large run and really do not need such a large inventory in the beginning. Our fill line can handle runs as small as a few hundred. The fill line managers will also provide other services to the customers such as help with marketing, providing contacts in the certain industries they may be trying to get into and helping in any of the other areas the customer may need assistance with.
- Our Community Redevelopment Agency, CRA, partnered with the IDA in providing incentives for CRA district businesses.
- Seeing the expansion, recruitment and opening of businesses, housing has become a large topic of discussion. After having many meetings and discussions, it was determined that we are in need of middle-income housing. Something that the new teachers, law enforcement, medical personnel, etc. can afford. Apartments for this income range are also in need.
- Florida Hospital announced the relocation of their new facility. The current hospital is located off of Highway 17. Their new facility will now be located on Highway 17. It is everyone’s hope that with this location, other medical facilities will follow and the growth on Highway 17 will expand. The IDA partnered with the City of Wauchula and Florida Hospital to help this relocation happen. Once the new facility was open, the old hospital was deeded to the IDA.
- The former Southeast Modular building was purchased by the IDA. It is being looked at by a company that grows lettuce indoors with LED lighting.
- Hardee Lakes campground has been completed.
- The Economic Development office is always thinking of ways to grow our economy and increase the jobs and tax base in our County. A building that had been empty for quite some time on Highway 17 S was purchased by the IDA and retrofitted to hold multiple businesses for our Incubator/Accelerator.
- The IDA has been discussing expanding and rezoning the southern area of the Commerce Park, across the culvert.
- Our relationship with a few of our local entrepreneurs helped bring the Incubator/Accelerator idea to fruition. We took this to the EDA board and suggested a few of their applicants combined their applications and they would be the first users of the Incubator/Accelerator.
- Phase 1 of the University of South Florida's Institute of Government (USF-FIOG) Economy Building Strategy report was completed.
- Our County Sheriff’s office approached us about having an outpost built. Between both parties, it seemed like a great idea to build this outpost in our Commerce Park.
- Having infrastructure in place and ready to go is crucial in recruiting business to Hardee County. We have determined that the Highway 17 corridor was where it should be placed, from Bowling Green to Zolfo Springs. The design and engineering for the first section has been completed and will be seeking additional funding from the Hardee County Economic Development Authority.
- Negotiations with Florikan have started and looks promising. Their fast-growing fertilizer business was starting to have a “good problem”. With the sales having doubled since 2009, Ed Rosenthal (founder) and his son Eric (president), saw the growth as an immediate opportunity that they did not want to waste. There was one problem though, where to expand? Since being in Sarasota since 1981 when it was founded, the father and son team wanted to stay local and expand there. Unfortunately, there was nothing that would fit their expansion needs. This is where Hardee County came in. Word had spread regarding Florikan looking for a place to expand and the Economic Development office gave them a hopefully irresistible offer: We would construct a new building on spec for the firm at a cost of $4 million. Florikan would lease the space it needs and pay it back on a lease-buy option by earning credit for the job creation. That sold them. Their dirt breaking was held in September 2014.
- The design for the Hardee Lakes campground is complete. There will be 60 RV sites available for rent.
- With social media being an important tool for a business, the IDA/EDC revamped their website and updated their logos.
- The IDA began discussions with National Solar to provide an initial study to determine the location feasibility of a 200 megawatt solar field to Progress/Duke transmission system. Construction is still scheduled for early third quarter 2013. The contribution of $250,000 by the IDA to the projects will be on a reimbursement basis related to construction benchmarks. (10 full time jobs and unknown indirect jobs).
- IDA funded $250,000 for the enhancement of the Hardee Lakes Park.
- Instituted a relationship with the University of South Florida through the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government to study Eco-Agri tourism and economic development opportunities in Hardee County.
- Mitigation with CF Industries is completed with parity based on the Mosaic Agreement, providing funding for education and recreation as a supplemental aspect of Economic Development. This Agreement, which provides economic development element of the Comprehensive Plan compliance by CFI, was negotiated on behalf of Hardee County by the Economic Development office. The funding that will be administered thru the Hardee County Economic Development Authority by “rule” agreement conditions and modification of the local bill that created the EDA is being considered. The modifications are discussed and proposed to the local legislative delegation and presented to the public during the next year. The fist installment ($1 million of $10 million) is expected later in 2013 when all permits for the CFI South Pasture Extension permits are issued. The balance will be paid in three installments ($3 million each) annually once mining commences on this mine extension property. Designated Administrator of the Mosaic Agreement.
- The IDA also held its first Mosaic Funds grant cycle. A technology company, a local business and the County were all awarded funds.
- Recruited Keyplex, a crop nutritional manufacturer to the Hardee Commerce Park to occupy an existing vacant building and to construct additional space. The IDA and Keyplex jointly constructed a 22,000 square foot manufacturing/office facility for the production of products shipped worldwide. (15-20 direct jobs and numerous indirect jobs).
- IDA provided supplementary funding of approximately $250,000 for the construction and maintenance of the County’s recreational complex and ball fields.
- Began investigating the creation and construction of a ubiquitous (omnipresent) Broadband system throughout the entire geographical area of Hardee County. This system was constructed be early 2011 and provides superior broadband service at extremely competitive rates to the citizens of the County. Through this initiative we have successfully created a direct connection to the main “fiber”.
- Negotiated and acquired an additional 104 acres adjacent to the commerce park for future park expansion. Design and engineering on this section has begun and expansion of roads and infrastructure will begin in the next 12 to 18 months. The Commerce Park has a total of 264 acres. There are only three lots left in the initial section.
- Consolidated the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Office, Industrial Development Office, Wauchula Main Street and the Wauchula Community Redevelopment agency to unify efforts to diversify Hardee County’s economy.
- Recruited Howard Fertilizer distribution center to a privately constructed “spec” building in the Commerce Park (7 employees plus indirect transportation jobs).
- Successfully negotiated an agreement with the Mosaic Company to provide to the Hardee County Industrial Development Authority $42,000,000 for economic development over an approximate 10-year period beginning in 2011. The disbursements from the company include two initial payments of $5,000,000 each followed by eight payments of $4,000,000 each. This agreement has resulted thus far into $1,000,000 into the Board of County Commissioner’s General Revenue.
- Recruited first company into the Commerce Park (Organics South). This company has been acquired by a $200,000,000 NASDAQ traded company (Nutraceutical). Additional land has been acquired by purchase from the IDA (2011), a $600,000 building and an additional (2011) 8 acres in the Commerce Park to expand their operations. They currently have around 25 employees but will expand employment soon operating under the name Seychelles Organics, a subsidiary of Nutrapure and Nutraceutical.
- Successfully recruited Pacer Marine (60-80 employees) to the Commerce Park. This company built a 20,000 sq. ft. masonry manufacturing facility. Even thru the recent downturn in marine related industry, the company has kept employment steady or increasing.
- Recruited SCOSTA to the Hardee Commerce Park. SCOSTA acquired land from the IDA and constructed an approximately 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility. They are a truss manufacturing facility, and despite the severe economic impacts have managed to continue employment ranging from 6-15 employees. As construction rebounds their employment is expected to increase.
- Utilized initial disbursements of the severance tax revenues to pay off all debt from acquisition costs, completion of the development of the Commerce Park in Hardee County, (including utilities, roads, surface water management construction) and to begin operations/ marketing program.
- Began implementing the projects identified in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s long-term recovery plan as a result of hurricane Charley.
- Successfully lobbied the Florida Legislature to create the Hardee County Economic Development Authority for the purpose of utilizing redistributed severance tax dollars from phosphate mining to provide funding for economic development and infrastructure related to same.
- Negotiated an approx. $200,000 escrow for natural gas development in the County from Peoples/TECO for use of right of way along CR 663.
- Initiated the acquisition of land for a 160-acre Commerce Park and creation of County Utilities in proximity to the park and growth corridor along US 17 in Hardee County.
- Recruited and facilitated the location of Seaboard Supply, acquired by Old Castle, Inc. with approx. 40 direct and 100’s of indirect jobs related to harvesting and trucking of timber and mulch.
- Facilitated/negotiated with Vandolah Power Partners to construct a $750,000,000 “merchant” power plant in Hardee County with competitive offering of property tax abatement. The company today is operating as Northern Star Generation and has facilities in multiple locations across the US continent. Ad valorem tax roll contributions and employment, both direct and indirect is substantial.
- Completed the construction of the Vandolah waste water treatment plant with waste water services from CR663 to the airport.
- Successfully provided for water and wastewater service to a prominent site in the growth corridor for South Florida State College to locate a satellite campus.
- Negotiated with Gulfstream Natural Gas $300,000 for park enhancements at Hardee Lakes (1200-acre natural park owned and operated by the County) as the main gas line infrastructure crisscrossed thru the County.
- The EDC in conjunction with the BOCC has lobbied to keep the multiple lane expansion of US 17 as a State and regional priority.