Business Florida 2013 - The Regions
South Central Florida
Arcadia, Okeechobee, Sebring
• FPL Group operates the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center — the nation’s largest photovoltaic solar facility — in Arcadia; 90,000 solar panels generate 42,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.
• In June 2012, California-based LS9 Inc. opened its advanced biodiesel plant in Okeechobee. Housed in a facility retrofitted to accommodate LS9’s proprietary, one-step fermentation process for converting renewable raw materials into “Ultra-Clean Diesel” fuel, the plant’s purpose is to generate samples for testing and to serve as a demonstration facility for bringing low-cost, low-carbon fuels, such as biodiesel, to market.
• Highlands EnviroFuels, which aims to make 30 million gallons per year of advanced biofuel ethanol from sweet sorghum and sugar cane, will break ground in late 2012 on its plant near Lake Placid in Highlands County. To date, nine local growers have invested in the project, which is expected to generate approximately 60 high-paying permanent jobs.
• Florida landowners Lykes Bros. Inc. and A. Duda & Sons have hired the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield to begin marketing the logistics center they plan to build on 4,700 acres near Moore Haven in Glades County. Sited to take advantage of the region’s easy access to rail, road and deepwater port connections, the project will include 30 million square feet of distribution, warehouse and manufacturing facilities.
• A modification to the Foreign Trade Zone Act is making it possible for Sebring Regional Airport to streamline its FTZ application/approval process. As a result, warehousing and distribution operations in South Central’s six counties, plus the cities of Belle Glade and Pahokee, will be able to secure FTZ status in approximately 30 days from date of application; manufacturing companies may be approved in as quickly as 75 days. Prior to this change, companies could anticipate a wait time of up to one year for FTZ status.
National Solar Power (NSP) announced plans in November 2011 to build a 200-megawatt solar farm in Hardee County. The $700-million project, to be located near the Avon Park Executive Airport, is expected to create 200 jobs during the five-year construction phase and up to 50 permanent operations jobs. Reasons for choosing Hardee County, according to National Solar CEO James Scrivener: ample available property and easy access to both the electric grid and nearby population centers. NSP is also building two solar farms in Florida’s Northwest region.