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31Jan

January Economic Development Updates

 

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Highlands County Economic Development

JANUARY 2020

Connections - Highlands County Economic Development Updates
 
 
 
MEETINGS & EVENTS

SBA Online Webinars

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE offer a variety of free webinars and trainings to strengthen businesses and help them succeed.


View the February schedule here.



 

SFSC Corporate Education Classes

South Florida State College offers a variety of corporate training options ranging from soft skills to technology courses to conflict management and more. The Corporate College also offers customized training to help meet the needs of your business. 


View the full course catalogs online.

 
NEWS & UPDATES

CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON NUCOR MILL

Highlands News-Sun By Marc Valero

AVON PARK — In April, Nucor Steel Florida broke ground on constructing a mill that will produce some 350,000 tons of steel rebar a year and employ a workforce of 250 with average annual salaries of $66,000.

It is located just north of the county line in Polk County and just east of U.S. 27, but it should have a big impact on Highlands County and Avon Park in particular.

Work is underway to extend the City of Avon Park’s water and sewer lines to provide service to Nucor. It was recently reported by the city that 30% of the project is complete.

 

The steel rebar mill is slated to open in July 2020.

Nucor is the largest steel and steel products producer in the United States with a steel-making capacity of about 27 million tons annually. The company has more than 25,000 employees at more than 200 operating facilities in North America.

Nucor is number 151 in the Fortune 500 list of America’s Largest Companies with more than $20 billion in revenue in 2018.

Read more here.

 

HIGHLANDS GRADUATION RATE IMPROVES

Highlands News-Sun by Marc Valero 

SEBRING — The School Board of Highlands County’s graduation rate for the 2018-19 school year increased 4 percentage points to 81.2%, closing the gap with the state rate that increased a modest 0.8 percentage points to 86.9%

Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that Florida’s graduation rate has increased 27.7 percentage points since 2003-04.

Highlands was matched by Hardee and Polk counties, which also had graduation rates of 81.2%. Okeechobee was at 75.8%, and Hendry at 83.7%.

“I applaud Florida’s students, parents and educators for their hard work and dedication that lead to these increased graduation rates,” DeSantis said. “While these results are a positive mark of Florida’s upward progress, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. We must continue striving for educational excellence and making Florida the number one state in the nation for education.”


Read more here.

 

DUKE BRINGS THE POWER OF THE SUN TO LAKE PLACID

Highlands News-Sun by Kim Leatherman

LAKE PLACID — It’s official. Duke Energy Florida’s solar farm in Lake Placid is up and running. Duke Energy originally said it would have the project producing power by December 2019. They have reached their goals, according to Duke Energy’s spokeswoman Ana Gibbs, the company has been “in service” since Dec. 9.

The 380-acre solar plant can be seen off the east shoulder of U.S. 27; the farm is just north of Southern Lifestyle Assisted Living Center and across from Tomoka Heights. The sun’s power is harnessed by 180,000 tracking solar panels. Duke has a long term lease with the landowners who are members of the Smoak family.

EDF Renewables originated the project with the intent of selling power to Duke Energy Florida. They found the location and applied to the county for a special exception for the solar farm. A short time later, Duke Energy Florida took over the entire project and saw it through to completion. Construction started in May of this year.

“The 45-megawatt (MW) plant consists of approximately 180,000 tracking solar panels,” Gibbs said. “The solar power plant began servicing Duke Energy customers Dec. 9, 2019 and will be owned, operated and maintained by EDF.”

Read more here.

 

GOVERNOR DESANTIS ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $5.2 MILLION IN AWARDS TO SMALL FLORIDA COMMUNITIES - INCLUDING AVON PARK

The funds are administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) through the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant – Economic Development category (CDBG-ED) and the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF).

“I am pleased to announce more than $5.2 million is being awarded to small and rural Florida communities to improve infrastructure,” said Governor DeSantis. “We will continue to invest in our state’s infrastructure to help attract new businesses and create opportunities for residents.”

 

The City of Avon Park – ($720,000, RIF) to extend water and sewer lines running parallel to highway U.S. 27. This critical infrastructure will enhance opportunities for economic development and is anticipated to create 240 jobs.


Read more here.

 

SPRING LAKE HOME TO NEW SEBRING INTERNATIONAL GOLF RESORT

Highlands News-Sun by Kim Leatherman

SEBRING – Just weeks after announcing the purchase of the Spring Lake Golf Resort, Signature H Property Group has announced the additional development plans in Spring Lake Special District. The plans were announced at a New Year’s Eve dinner at the Spring Lake Resort restaurant.

The rebranding of the resort comes with a new name and logo: “Sebring International Golf Resort.” The logo is a silhouette of a palm tree at the end of a path within a circle.

“We believe this new brand will attain prominence in both the Sebring and international markets, while more closely aligning us with our neighboring airport and raceway,” said Helmut Wyzisk III, president of Signature H.

Wyzisk said the town center is planned as a new central gathering place in the community anchored by a few boutique commercial spaces that will cater to the residents and guests of Spring Lake. Possible tenants could include a barber/salon, deli or ice cream shop, dry cleaner, etc. The town center will include greenspace. The plan calls for the project to be built in phases, “based on demand and absorption.” He said the master plan includes new, separate villages throughout the resort and each village will have its own character and purpose.

Read more here.

(Courtesy Photo via bedneyimages)

 

LEADERSHIP HIGHLANDS HELPS STUDENTS CHOOSE CAREERS

Highlands News-Sun by Kim Leatherman

SEBRING — Leadership Highlands Career Day for high school students took place Wednesday in the Alan Jay Arena. Leadership Highlands alumni Garrett Roberts said about 1,500 students walked through the doors.

About 65 businesses set up booths staffed with representatives or owners who spoke directly to students about their industry and the qualifications to join the field. Some fields required a college degree, such as being a lawyer, while others required a trade certification. Still others, such as Air and Electric Services, a trade certification may be what’s needed. Operations Manager Scott Kaplan said there are different ways to be successful in his field, where the average electrician makes $40,000 to $50,000. Interning or a four-year apprentice program can open that door.

Wills said many people will choose college and hopefully return to the area, while others will take technical jobs after training at South Florida State College.

The businesses that participated ran the gamut from banking, Glades Electric, to Highlands County Economic Development, county jobs, hospital jobs, and law enforcement and first responders.

The Leadership Highlands Career Day is an alumni project taken on a few years ago.
 

Read more here.

 
MONTHLY METRICS

Unemployment Rate

 

Residential Real
Estate Activity

 

Residential
Construction Activity

Highlands County Economic Development
www.Highlandsbusiness.com
863-402-6882
501 S. Commerce Ave.
Sebring, FL 33870

About the Author

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OUR MISSION

Enhance the quality of life in Highlands County by attracting a diversity of new businesses; increasing industrial investment while facilitating the retention and successful expansion of existing business and industry.

Keep In Touch

Economic Development
Highlands County Board of County Commissioners
(E)
economicdevelopment@highlandsfl.gov
(P) 863.402.6906
(F) 863.402.6651