Energy sector emerges as driving force in affordable, accessible heartland.
Demographics for the South Central/ Heartland Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
|South Central/ Heartland Resources:
• South Florida Community College
In June 2008, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a comprehensive alternative energy bill aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and encouraging investments in renewable energy technologies, especially wind and solar power. In DeSoto County, efforts were already under way to put this legislation into action. Before the end of 2008, Florida Power & Light (FP&L), the state’s largest investor-owned utility, will begin building the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center on 1,525 acres near the Hardee County line. When completed, the project will provide 25 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity, making it the world’s largest photovoltaic solar facility. Located just north of Arcadia, the new solar plant is slated to be fully operational by 2010; however, more than 3,000 homes could begin using the clean energy as early as 2009.
Agriculture is the South Central/Heartland’s historic economic foundation. Four of this region’s six counties are among the largest in Florida for citrus acreage: Hendry, with some 15 million citrus trees on 95,000 acres, ranks 2nd, followed by Highlands (4th), DeSoto (5th) and Hardee (7th). CF Industries Inc., one of North America’s largest manufacturers and distributors of fertilizer products, employs 175 at its Hardee County-based phosphate rock mine and ore beneficiation plant.
Construction Under Way: Elsewhere in DeSoto County, GEO Group is building the 720-bed Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia. Slated to open in mid-2009, this $60-million state facility will employ approximately 300 people. In addition, the county has received a $500,000 federal grant to be used for the construction of affordable housing.