Make us your home page
Instagram

Economic landscape needs steel, not stucco

I never thought freshly bulldozed lots and rows of pre-engineered steel buildings could look so wonderful.

I'm talking about a tour I took last week of the Hernando County Airport Corporate Park.

No, it wasn't scenic, just a great change from foreclosure signs and largely vacant subdivisions that feel like newly minted ghost towns.

At the airport, on the other hand, I saw bustle and prosperity in the nearly 100 occupied lots, and — in the 750 acres of vacant land accessible by new roads — I saw hope for the future.

A lot of people see the park this way, and ideas about economic development that county leaders have long agreed with in theory but ignored in practice are finally taking hold:

They see the desperate need for new industry. They are finally fed up with the reliance on Florida's housing economy, which was described perfectly in last week's Time magazine:

"A human pyramid scheme ... that relied on a thousand newcomers a day, too many of them construction workers, mortgage bankers, real estate agents and others whose livelihoods depended on importing a thousand more newcomers the next day.''

Every county commissioner at last week's meeting said the time had come to move beyond this; so did members of the Hernando Builders Association. When I asked business development director Mike McHugh if he sensed an urgency about attracting industry, he said, "emphatically yes.''

To do this, he plans to present a program of tax incentives to the commission Aug. 5. Though he didn't release details, he said the largest breaks will be reserved for companies that bring the best jobs.

Sounds reasonable, and better, certainly, than tax cuts that encourage unneeded home construction, which is how County Administrator David Hamilton views another proposal the commission will hear that day — reducing impact fees by 25 percent.

McHugh said incentives for industry are necessary because interest in the park, though still strong, has slipped as the economy has weakened in the past 18 months. My only worry is that commissioners will give away too much because they underestimate the county's appeal.

For industries, as for home buyers a few years ago, Hernando offers a good transportation network — including the Suncoast Parkway, rail and air — as well as plentiful and relatively cheap land. The airport leases lots for about $7,500 per acre annually, said airport director Don Silvernell, while, for example, in most of southern Pasco industrial land is available only for sale, and at a cost of about $250,000 per acre.

When businesses move here, it means related industries see the park and its advantages, said Silvernell, who drove his car south past factories and warehouses tucked just out of the view of drivers on Spring Hill Drive.

Of the 95 enterprises at the park, 17 have signed contracts for lots in the past two years. That includes one of the most recent arrivals, Intrepid Machine Inc., which makes parts for the aerospace industry.

Construction has begun on its 21,000-square-foot building, Silvernell said, pointing to its recently poured concrete slab.

Just gorgeous.

Economic landscape needs steel, not stucco 07/19/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 10:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]