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November Economic Development Updates

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Highlands County Economic Development

NOVEMBER 2019

Connections - Highlands County Economic Development Updates
 
 

🚨 HIGHLANDS COUNTY FEDERAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE 🚨

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced TWO disaster declarations applicable to Highlands County residents and businesses related to Hurricane Dorian and Tropical Storm Nestor.

If your business suffered economic injury as a result of Hurricane Dorian or Tropical Storm Nestor AND/OR if your business or residence suffered physical, economic, or home disaster from tornadoes as a result of Tropical Storm Nestor, you may be eligible for these U.S. SBA disaster relief loan programs.

Additional information including DOWNLOADABLE FACT SHEETS and APPLICATION DEADLINES can be found at www.HighlandsBusiness.com/Disaster.

If you need assistance applying for these programs, our local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is available to help. Our local SBDC consultant is Michael Noel, located at South Florida State College and he can be reached at
863-784-7378 or https://sbdctampabay.com/highlands/.

 
MEETINGS & EVENTS

IDA/EDC Board Meeting

7:30 a.m. Wed., December 11
CareerSource Heartland
5901 US 27 S.
Sebring, FL 33870
 



3rd Annual Leadership Highlands Career Day

8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 
January 8, 2020
Alan Jay Arena, Sebring

FREE spaces for all presenting businesses.

Showcase your business and career opportunities to High School students across Highlands County. 

View the flyer and sign up information here.

SFSC Corporate Education Classes

South Florida State College offers a variety of corporate training options ranging from soft skills to technology courses to conflict management and more. The Corporate College also offers customized training to help meet the needs of your business. 

View the full course catalogs online.
 



SBA Online Webinars

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE offer a variety of free webinars and trainings to strengthen businesses and help them succeed.

View the December schedule here.

 
NEWS & UPDATES

HEARTLAND GROWING AS A REGION

Highlands News Sun By Phil Attinger

LAKE PLACID — Florida’s Heartland has grown twice as fast as the rest of the country, on average, and without extensive long-range plans, local governments won’t keep up.

Pat Steed, executive director of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, and John Kaliski of Cambridge Systematics transportation planning and management, gave that assessment at last week’s Heartland 2060 planning summit. The seven-county region of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee and Polk Counties added 20% to its population from 2000 to 2010, higher than 17.6% for Florida and 9.7% for the nation.


Read more here.


FDOT: FREIGHT IN THE HEARTLAND WILL INCREASE

Highlands News Sun By Phil Attinger

LAKE PLACID — Motorists uncomfortable with the amount of truck traffic on U.S. 27 should prepare to see more, especially with regard to agriculture.

“Someone asked me, ‘What does freight have to do with agriculture?’” said Keith Robbins, freight coordinator for Florida Department of Transportation District 1 in Bartow. “When I took my jaw up off the floor, I figured I have to show this [connection] to somebody.”

Which is what he did Wednesday to almost 100 people at the heartland2060 Summit in Lake Placid, as well as at similar planning events.

Read more here.


 

SOLAR FARM READY TO PRODUCE POWER

Highlands News Sun By Kim Leatherman

LAKE PLACID – The last of 180,000 tracking solar panels has been placed on the Overland Contracting, Inc. at the site of Duke Energy Florida's solar project, commonly called the solar farm. The project that was started in May 2019, was supposed to be constructed and powered by December. It would appear the goal is going to be met.

Duke Energy's Ana Gibbs, corporate communications, said the project would be in the commissioning process by next week.  “We run a series of testing on all of our equipment to make sure everything is connected and working properly before interconnecting the solar power plant to the power grid,” she said.

As motorists driving along U.S. 27 across from Tomoka Heights can see there is a light at the end of Duke Energy's project and it's solar powered. Landscaping can be seen going in. With plantings of three palms, magnolia trees and others placed evenly around the fence surrounding the plant to the east of U.S. 27.

Read more here.


 

HIGH SCHOOL STEM STUDENTS BONE-UP ON SCIENCE AT SFSC

Highlands News-Sun By Marc Valero

AVON PARK — Heartland area high school students tackled some chemistry experiments, learned about anatomy and physiology and delved into more in the sciences Saturday at South Florida State College.  

The students were participating in one of the monthly forums that are a part of The Heartland Educational Consortium STEM Scholars Program.

STEM Scholars is a science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) enrichment program to meet the educational needs of the gifted and talented high school students in grades nine through 12 in the Consortium's member districts of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee counties.

Read more here.


 

LEADERSHIP HIGHLANDS SETS 3RD ANNUAL CAREER DAY FOR JAN. 8

Special to the Highlands News Sun

SEBRING — Leadership Highlands is once again hosting its annual Career Day and is seeking businesses to participate.
 

Last year’s Career Day highlighted more than 70 areas of employment as high schoolers from all over the county came to the Alan Jay Arena to explore career options. The 3rd annual Career Day is set for Jan. 8, 2020 and the hope is to have more than 100 careers for the students to consider.
 

“Part of being in Leadership Highlands is learning about Highlands County’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Garrett Roberts, president of the Leadership Highlands Class of 2017-18 and the organizer of Career Day. “We realized that our high school students needed an opportunity to learn about the number of great career opportunities we have here.

Read more here.


 

PANTHER PARKWAY TO OPEN WITH 5K, MAKING FIRST USERS RUNNERS, WALKERS

Highlands News-Sun By Phil Attinger

SEBRING — County officials have set a date to open the Sebring Roundabout and 4.3-mile Panther Parkway, and people on foot get first dibs.

As county officials prepare to cut the ribbon Dec. 7 on the $11 million road and roundabout project, they have invited residents and visitors to join in a fundraiser 5K Run/Walk to benefit the United Way of Central Florida.

After the 5K run, the road will open to motorists traveling between south and east Avon Park or South Florida State College and downtown Sebring.

Read more here.


 

HRTPO TO FDOT: FOUR-LANE ALL OF STATE ROAD 70

Highlands News Sun By Phil Attinger

SEBRING — State road planners have studied how to widen and improve State Road 70 from County Road 29 to the area of Placid Lakes Boulevard.

Board members for the Heartland Regional Transportation Planning Organization told Florida Department of Transportation staff on Wednesday that they want the whole road widened — from Interstate 75 to Interstate 95.

“Widening is an extreme priority for every [county] commissioner up here,” said HRTPO Board Chair Terry Burroughs, Okeechobee County commissioner. “We need to have four lanes because hurricane evacuation east to west or west to east becomes a bottleneck.”

Read more here.


 

FLORIDA AG: HEMP HAS "CASH CROP" POTENTIAL

Highlands News-Sun By Phil Attinger

LAKE PLACID — Hemp is a growing industry in Florida, according to state agriculture officials. At least, it has more room to grow now that the Florida State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1020 on May 3, removing barriers to research into hemp as a crop and an industrial raw material.

Ricardo Alvarez, South Florida regional director for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the plant, cultivated in North America since colonial times, has the potential to become a major cash drop, thanks to a myriad of uses.

Those uses include food, from the seeds like soybeans; pet feed; body oils and lotions, and oil-based products like candles, lanterns and paint. The seeds can also be used in clothing, like shirts, pants and towels; plastic; paper; fuel, and construction, through the use of "hempcrete," a fire resistant mix of plant stalks and lime.

Read more here.


 

PROPOSED TOLL ROAD DISCUSSED AT POLK STATE COLLEGE

Highlands News Sun By Charles Baker

POLK COUNTY — The Southwest-Central Florida Connector, a toll road that could extend from Polk County to Alligator Alley in Collier County by 2030, was discussed during an all day meeting at the Polk State College Lakeland campus Oct. 30.

Over the course of the next year, the Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force, a group of 47 appointed state leaders, seven of which represent Polk and Highlands counties, are tasked with addressing possible environmental and habitat impacts of the toll road and making a recommendation on its final path to Gov. Ron DeSantis by Oct. 1, 2020.

Unlike other roads, which tend to be proposed on the local level based on need, then prioritized and funded accordingly, the Southwest-Central Florida Connector was created by a bill passed in Tallahassee by state legislators and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis May 17.

Read more here.


 

FL DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY ANNOUNCES $20 MILLION AVAILABLE THROUGH REBUILD FLORIDA WORKFORCE RECOVERY TRAINING PROGRAM

Special to the Highlands News-Sun

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Earlier this week, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced the opening of the application period for the $20 million Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program for local workforce development boards, educational institutions and technical centers in communities impacted by Hurricane Irma to train Floridians in the construction trades necessary to support disaster recovery efforts.

“Governor DeSantis has prioritized preparing Floridians for the future. The Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program is another critical investment into workforce development in our state,” said Ken Lawson, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Through the Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program, we’re developing the workforce necessary to help communities impacted by disasters fully recover.”

Read more here.


 

MONTHLY METRICS

Unemployment Rate

 

Residential Real
Estate Activity

 

Residential
Construction Activity

Highlands County Economic Development
www.Highlandsbusiness.com
863-402-6882
501 S. Commerce Ave.
Sebring, FL 33870

Copyright © 2019 Highlands County Economic Development, All rights reserved.


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OUR MISSION

Enhance the quality of life in Highlands County by attracting a diversity of new businesses; increasing industrial investment while facilitating the retention and successful expansion of existing business and industry.

Keep In Touch

Economic Development
Highlands County Board of County Commissioners
(E)
economicdevelopment@highlandsfl.gov
(P) 863.402.6906
(F) 863.402.6651