Energy sector emerges as driving force in affordable, accessible heartland.
Expansion Planned: Minnesota-based Mosaic Company, a leading producer of fertilizer and ingredients for animal feed and the owner of some 300,000 acres of land in Florida, plans to expand its Polk County-based South Fort Meade Mine southward by 10,856 additional acres into Hardee County. Mosaic officials put Hardee County’s total net fiscal benefit from the mine expansion at $22.6 million and have promised to restore the mined land when mining operations are eventually concluded.
Housing and More: The Hardee County Housing Authority received $500,000 in federal funding to build 20 senior citizen units in Bowling Green. Also, the nonprofit Affordable Housing Solutions for Florida received $1 million in federal funding to build 75 apartments in Wauchula for seniors and 50 apartments for families in Bowling Green. Meanwhile, Peace River Electric Cooperative, which serves 10 Florida counties, including DeSoto, Hardee and Highlands, is building a new $7.5-million, 47,000-square-foot headquarters in Wauchula, slated to be open in 2009.
Enjoying Rural Life
From the Hardee County Commerce Park in Bowling Green, Autumn Blum runs a business that connects rural Florida to India, with sales to the Czech Republic and beyond. Her 20-employee firm makes herbal body and hair care products and herbal supplements under the brand names TheraNeem and TheraVeda. Most of the products are derived from the neem tree, which natives in India have relied on as a kind of “village pharmacy” for centuries. The neem oil needed for Organix-South products comes from trees grown on the farm near Bombay that Blum co-owns.
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 Hardee County. “The workforce is very loyal here,” Blum says, “and we have much greater access to local government. You definitely feel like you’re part of the community here.”
Local economic development officials helped Blum get a waiver of permitting and impact fees, which, she says, made the building much more affordable. Her new headquarters has everything necessary to conduct business globally, including high-speed Internet access via a T1 hookup.
“We love it here,” says Blum, a Florida native and former big city dweller.