LACOOCHEE — A company that makes motorcycle windshields in impoverished Lacoochee is seeking to expand its operations.
MadStad Engineering, tucked beside an old nightclub on U.S. 301 in northeast Pasco County, wants to buy 2.39 acres across the highway from state Sen. Wilton Simpson, an egg farmer and businessman.
The company, which employs eight, is running out of room to make its popular after-market windshields, which owner Mark Stadnyk says have less turbulence than those that come with bikes.
"We want to keep expanding and growing," said Stadnyk, a Ridge Manor resident who started the company in his garage eight years ago. He made national news in 2012 when he unsuccessfully sued the government over changes to a patent law that he said favored big business over lone inventors. Stadnyk holds three patents on his motorcycle products, which can be put on more than 100 makes and models of bikes.
"We're growing about 25 to 35 percent a year," he said. "Next year we'll be even busier."
To accommodate that, Stadnyk and Simpson needed county approval to rezone the property from general commercial to light manufacturing. The site is near mobile homes, a liquor store and a retail store. Pasco's Planning Commission gave it the thumbs-up on Wednesday; county commissioners will have the final say Sept. 9.
Records show Simpson bought the property, which now holds a 4,000-square-foot feed supply store, in 2007 for $173,000.
Stadnyk wants to build an 8,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. He said he would like to hire at least two employees immediately and up to six if demand requires it.
The jobs pay between $9 and $12 an hour and come with free health benefits.
"It's somewhat skilled," he said. "It's not like a clerk at Dollar General."
Simpson, whose Senate district includes Lacoochee, said he was proud to be able to bring economic development to an area that has languished for decades since the Cummer cypress mill shut down in 1959. Nearly half the population lives below the poverty level. FCAT reading scores at Lacoochee Elementary School were so low that educators must add an extra 50 minutes to the school day for older students.
"My intent all along was to bring some good growth to those areas, to create jobs and things of that nature," Simpson said. "It's good to actually see that happen now."
A new Boys and Girls Club was completed in spring, and the state is in the midst of a $6.9 million repaving of U.S. 301 between Mosstown Road and Pioneer Museum Road.
The area also received a $300,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, though it lost out on another to replace an aging housing complex.
Stadnyk said the new building might serve as a catalyst to lure more businesses.
"Lacoochee is not exactly a burgeoning metropolis of manufacturing opportunity," he said. "The county was happy to hear about somebody wanting to put some jobs in this area."
Contact Lisa Buie at 813) 909-4604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.