Economically savvy companies find affordability and a convenient location in Florida’s heartland.
Greenhouses in Highlands County help keep Florida’s nursery industry in the number 2 spot nationwide. [Photo: Highlands Today]
Positioned just south of Florida’s geographic midpoint, the 5,000-square-mile South Central/Heartland region boasts the kind of reasonably priced building sites to which economically savvy companies are increasingly drawn.
Ahead of the Pace
One example of a company looking to capitalize on this region’s affordability is Pacer Marine Engineering (PME). PME broke ground in mid-2007 for a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility near Wauchula in Hardee County Commerce Park.
“The people of Hardee County have been second to none,” says Jack Swiatkowski, president of this family-owned manufacturer of wire harnesses, instrumentation and digital control systems. Swiatkowski cites reasonable insurance and property costs, lower taxes and the “friendly, small-town feel of the area” among reasons why PME chose Wauchula. The company, which will open with a staff of 30 and eventually grow to 100 employees, received fiscal incentives for its project. “It’s a performance-based deal,” says Swiatkowski. “Hardee County is looking to populate the area with jobs, and that’s what we’ll be doing.”
Sebring Regional Airport
[Photo: Kathy Waters]
Center of Activity
Highlands, where business centers on Sebring and its busy airport, is the largest and most heavily populated county in the South Central/Heartland region. Of the region’s 254,018 total residents, close to 100,000 live in Highlands.
By Air: Sebring
Regional airport is Unique
The only U.S. airport to encompass both a Foreign Trade Zone and a Community Redevelopment Agency is home base for several businesses, including:
» E-Stone USA, which in 2007 opened a second production line and doubled the size of its granite product manufacturing facility to about 150,000 square feet.
» Funder America Inc., maker of laminated wood products, which also is expanding.