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Plant City leaders look to woo business

Plant City leaders look to woo business

PLANT CITY — Developers, landowners and business leaders in this part of eastern Hillsborough County want their city’s name at the forefront when out-of-state businesses are seeking locations for their operations.

So they invited Florida Secretary of Commerce Bill Johnson to come have a look on Friday, giving him a tour of vacant land and property where speculative warehouse space is already in place and then regaling him over lunch with their vision for the future of Plant City.

“What’s going on in Plant City, it’s really emerging right now,” said Bob Appleyard, executive vice president of Transcend Development Corp., which is developing the 1,400-acre Lakeside Station Logistics Park on Park Road. “Users with a particular demand are going to come to the attention of state leaders like Bill Johnson and Enterprise Florida, and we felt it important to get Enterprise Florida into Plant City and share with them the opportunities that are here.”

Enterprise Florida, headed by Johnson, is the state’s economic development arm, an agency with a pot of money available to offer incentives to businesses looking to start up in Florida or expand here.

Appleyard and his colleague, Ali Hasbini, along with Scott Monahan of Hardie Manufacturing and Jeff Lucas of Central Florida Development conducted the tour.

Businesses have specific needs in mind when looking for land, Appleyard said. For example, some need rail connections and a large piece of real estate. Lakeside Station has CSX on its border and plenty of space to build, he said. “There are very few locations in central Florida that have both rail and that size.”

“Plant City’s proximity to major roadways as well as Port Tampa Bay is ideal for corporations in industries such as manufacturing, distribution and logistics,” said Plant City Mayor Rick Lott. “We look forward to sharing the efforts local agencies have made to streamline the process of commercial development and corporate relocations in our area. Our goal is to continue creating a welcoming environment that is friendly to companies looking to expand their operations and impact on the market, and we believe that Secretary Johnson and Enterprise Florida will become a champion of our region.”

“It’s a great thing to showcase all of the things that are going on in Plant City between available sites and the speculative development, along with the city and the commitment to economic development shown through the recent formation of the Plant City Economic Development Corp.,” said Lucas, with Central Florida Development. “Bill Johnson is at the top of the food chain.

“It’s a very competitive environment out there, and Plant City has so much going for it right now with its location, a great workforce and the city’s commitment and the formation of the EDC,” Lucas said. “It’s important to all of us to get that message out there that Plant City is a great place to do business.”

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