Business Florida 2022 - The Regions
DeSoto • Glades • Hardee • Hendry • Highlands • Okeechobee
With its rolling green woodlands and wide open spaces, South Central is unique among Florida’s eight economic development regions. To site your business here is to be, quite literally, in the “Center of Everything.” Within a 150-mile radius are 10 commercial airports, eight deep-water ports, three interstate highways and Florida’s Turnpike, plus the Okeechobee Waterway, a system of navigable rivers and canals linking Florida’s east and west coasts through Lake Okeechobee. This is Florida’s heartland, where agribusiness thrives alongside manufacturing, distribution and solar power, and residents still find time to browse antique shops for hidden treasure, take walks in the wild and enjoy leisurely Sunday afternoon drives.
Logistics & Transportation
Florida’s South Central region is an ideal spot to facilitate the distribution of goods and supplies. In addition to interstate highway availability, this region is home to four U.S. highways and 12 state roads as well as ready rail cargo capabilities via CSX and South Central Florida Express, and passenger service at Amtrak stops in Sebring and Okeechobee.
Air access is on the rise here too. At Sebring Regional Airport in Highlands County, a new 50,000-sq.-ft. Hangar Complex, with dedicated parking areas and individual buildings ranging from 8,000 to 15,000 square feet each, is in the planning stages. Construction on the first stand-alone structure — a 15,000-sq.-ft. hangar — is slated to begin in 2022. Also planned: a 1,776-foot extension to Runway 01-19 to accommodate existing and future airport operations. Sebring Regional, which combines a commerce park and airport on 2,000 acres, is a designated Foreign Trade Zone.
Meanwhile, at Airglades International Airport in Clewiston, construction continues on a $2.1 million, 4,000-sq.-ft. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility, as part of a redevelopment of the existing general aviation airport into a perishable air cargo hub. In February 2021, Airglades welcomed its first MD-80 series aircraft, a first step toward possibly partnering with U.S. carrier World Atlantic Airlines to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.
Individual companies that rely on distribution capabilities have found success in Florida’s South Central region too. Case in point: Sebring-based Bernie Little Distributors. Wholesaler for Anheuser Busch and other specialized local and national craft beers, the firm, which opened its original distribution center here in 1985, today employs more than 40 workers to process and deliver beverage products to some 400 retail accounts in Highlands alone, as well as to Polk, Hardee and Okeechobee counties.
KEY PLAYERS: Bernie Little Distributors, Sebring; Walmart Distribution Center, Arcadia; Walpole Feed & Supply, Okeechobee