Rural Advantages: Ready for Business
Easy access, abundant land and skilled workforce give Florida's rural counties special appeal.
Liberty Industries received a $4-million “Farm to Fuel” grant toward building a $50-million ethanol production plant in Liberty County.
In Gadsden County, CDS Manufacturing has opened its third precast concrete production facility at Gretna.
In Jackson County, groundbreaking is scheduled for November 2008 on the $16-million Chipola College Center for the Arts in Marianna. The new home to the school’s Fine and Performing Arts Departments will include a 650-seat theater, offices, recital hall, teaching and recording studios and a “black box” theater for audiences of 100 or less.
A deal to bring Green Circle Bio-Energy’s $100-million, 300,000-square-foot wood pellet plant to Cottondale earned Jackson County Development Council the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2008 Award for Rural Economic Development. The plant produced its first pellets for export to Europe in April 2008.
South Central RACEC
Many rural businesses in Florida have global connections; Organix-South is one example. The 20-employee company manufactures herbal body care products and supplements at a Hardee County site using an ingredient obtained from India, then ships finished goods to dozens of domestic and international destinations.
A native Floridian and former city dweller, Autumn Blum found a rural location just right for her globally directed company, Organix-South. From her 7,500-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in rural Hardee County, Blum ships herbal body and hair care products and herbal supplements around the world.
[Photo courtesy of Organix-South]
Organix-South has tripled in size since 2006, and in 2007 moved into its new 7,500-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in Bowling Green. The location is pleasantly rural, says owner Autumn Blum, but it has everything necessary to conduct business globally, including a T-1 broadband link.
Economic development officials, the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation and others are working together to identify transportation and mobility needs for the region. Their “Heartland Rural Mobility Plan” could one day mean a region-wide mass transit system.