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Business and Industry

Business and Industry

Highlands County offers the best of all worlds, with small-town style and big-city business. Highlands County is vibrant community planning for its future. The Economic Development Commission of Highlands County (EDC), in cooperation with the Heartland, Inc., South Florida State College and the Small Business Development Center of the Heartland, work diligently to support the advancement interests of existing and new business and industry in the area.

Highlands County and Sebring Regional Airport are home to the South Central Florida Catalyst Project. This premier $25 million economic development project is intended to bring new industries and jobs to the Highlands County region. A list of target industries developed by leaders of the region provides guidance in marketing efforts for the project.

Recently, the partnership of Opportunity Florida and the regional economic development organization, Florida’s Heartland REDI completed a $26 million project that provides broadband to the region’s schools, libraries, government and healthcare entities. The initiative also enhanced high-speed data transfer throughout the region.

A partnership with South Florida State College, Highlands County EDC and Florida’s Heartland REDI has created the Small Business Development Center of the Heartland to provide business counseling and training to Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto counties. Housed at South Florida State College, the center has a full-time business analyst on staff, with most training and counseling provided free of charge.

Key Location Assets

• Considerable cost savings for labor-intensive business and industries

• Accommodating tax structure

• Low cost of living, particularly for land and housing

• Employer satisfaction with employee work ethic

• Strong agricultural work ethic

• Ample, trainable, productive workforce

• Proximity to other Florida markets

• Several major metro areas are within 150 miles

• Local Enterprise Zone and Foreign Trade Zone

• Strong public/private cooperation for business attraction

• Wealth of civic pride

Industrial Properties

A current inventory of available buildings and land is maintained by the EDC on its website at www.highlandsedc.com. Local developers will build to suit with attractive lease or purchase offers.

Land Use

Within the municipalities of Avon Park, Lake Placid and Sebring, land is regulated by the respective governing bodies, guided by appointed advisory planning and zoning agencies.

Land use in the unincorporated areas of Highlands County is regulated by the Board of County Commissioners. The Planning and Zoning Board, with offices located at the county government center complex, is an advisory board with members appointed by county commissioners. Of the 701,709 acres in Highlands County, more than 3,500 acres are zoned for industrial development.

Industrial Parks

With a land area of 2,000 acres, Sebring Regional Airport is a prime location for manufacturing and distribution within its commerce park areas. This is a full-service park with available rail service, operated by the Sebring Airport Authority. The entire 2,000 acres is designated as Foreign Trade Zone #215, and is located in the Highlands County Enterprise Zone.

Other industrial parks are located throughout the county, with most industrial properties located within the Highlands County Enterprise Zone.

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