When last I wrote in March, I predicted that 2014 would be a great year in Glades County.

 We had hosted FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad at an event in January, ed to begin planning for future improvements on US 27 to serve the entrance of Americas Gateway and the Glades County Business and Commerce Park.

 I noted that the county had set aside $1.3 million in reserves toward infrastructure improvements for their business park and that we were working to secure grant funding to extend that infrastructure into AGLC. The sewer line in the business park was already in place, and we hoped to get the rest of the infrastructure, including turn lanes off SR 78 and US 27 in place this year.  I also said much of this was being done in anticipation of building the Gateway Logistics and Manufacturing Training Center in the Glades County Business and Commerce Park and to make way for construction of a travel center at the entrance to Americas Gateway.

None of that has changed. It’s just taking us a bit longer to get things done than we anticipated.

As you’ll see in this newsletter, Glades County received a $3.5 million legislative appropriation to build the Gateway Logistics and Manufacturing Training Center. EDC board members, including representatives of Americas Gateway and U.S. Sugar Corporation, have joined training center partners Southwestern State College (formerly Edison), Career Source Southwest Florida, Suncoast Trucking and Glades County in planning not just for construction of the regional training facility, but in planning the programming and outfitting of the facility to be responsive to manufacturing and warehousing/distribution companies throughout the Heartland and Southwest Florida region. In fact, we will be hosting a Business Focus group meeting Thursday, September 11, beginning at 1 p.m. in the conference room at the Glades County Health Department. At that meeting we expect to find out:

  • What training/skills do businesses in the region need for their employees
  • How often do they expect to need that training?
  • What kind of equipment/curriculum will we need to provide that training?
  • What can the employers commit to (i.e. equipment donations, funding for training, providing instructors, etc.)?
  • How many and what kind of jobs (ie internships, apprenticeships, entry level jobs) can they commit to providing for graduates of the program on an annual or recurring basis?
  • Are they willing to adopt either Global Logistics Associate (GLA), Certified Production Technician (CPT) or other nationally recognized certification, if they haven’t already, as a prerequisite for hiring?

 We at the EDC are working very hard alongside our partners to plan for this regional training center project to assist students—both high school and adult—in preparing for both existing jobs and jobs with new companies as they come in.

 If all goes well, the Gateway Logistics and Manufacturing Training Center will open in spring, 2016.

 Also this year, a new Goodwill store and Joblink training facility opened in Moore Haven, as did Family Dollar. We’re working with them now on their enterprise zone incentives applications, while at the same time continuing our efforts to bring in a new grocer, identify a buyer for the old Glades Inn and a concessionaire to operate the Moore Haven Canal Campground which will go out for bids in September.

 Perhaps more noteworthy, construction began on the new Moore Haven Junior Senior High School and construction will soon begin on the new Emergency Operations Center in the county compound. Like the Glades County Health Department, which will provide worker’s comp,  drug screening and other services to incumbent businesses locating in the Glades County Business and Commerce Park and Americas Gateway,  the new Emergency Operations Center will provide emergency management, EMS and fire protection services to those businesses, which will greatly reduce their insurance rates. Clustering training and education services, health and safety services proximate to businesses siting at the Business and Commerce Park and AGLC fosters cluster creation and is part of Glades County’s overall business recruitment strategy.

 Finally, in the good news department, so far this year we’ve seen Greencore USA, the first manufacturing company to take advantage of Glades County’s aggressive tax abatement for economic development,  open a new mortar manufacturing company in Ortona. They were then quickly acquired by Kwikcrete.  Just as the 7L Brands Mulch plant in Palmdale was later acquired by Scotts Miracle Gro, we are increasingly being recognized as a great location for national brands looking for access to the Florida market. We expect this trend to continue as Americas Gateway continues active negotiations with other firms.

 Now about that travel center…

 FDOT has programmed funding for infrastructure improvements at US 27 and Bronson Road to serve the travel center, with plans to let bids no later than April 2014.

 We expect to be able to announce the travel center project very soon…

Stay tuned.