I was pointed to the following article:

Does Florida want manufacturing in its future job mix? It better

Some excerpts:”This economy cannot come back based on home construction,” Peck says. “It’s got to include manufacturing.”

“Manufacturing is a significant provider of high-wage and high value-added jobs in the state; however, Florida is lagging behind in manufacturing investment due to significant, identifiable barriers.”

The report warns that Florida has the lowest per-capita capital expenditures on manufacturing among the 12 Southern states. It is losing to competing states in capital investment in manufacturing.

With double digit unemployment and no real economic base to speak of, West Central Florida needs to focus on manufacturing as a replacement for lost construction jobs.  This isn’t the whole answer, but it is definitely a part of the solution.

The I-75 corridor through Hernando, Sumter, and Marion counties makes perfect sense for some industry clusters.  While Hernando has done a good job of leveraging its airport for industry, a lot more potential is there.  Outside of mines, nobody has yet taken advantage of the Crystal River power plants in Citrus–I’m thinking electricity-intensive industries for whom the state offers significant tax breaks.  And Sumter is perfect for industries needing extensive land.

Done right, this could all leverage the coming Ocala Inland Port and the potential new barge port in Inglis for some serious economic development potential.

Now, how do we get there?  This requires significant regional cooperation.  It also requires flexible investment in infrastructure–roads, water, sewer, stormwater.  Don’t pick the location, sink the costs, and wait for them to come; instead, find the industry and offer to extend infrastructure to the site that works for them.

We all need to remember that we’re not competing against each other; the success of one part of this region means success for the whole.  Manufacturing facilities in Wildwood will employ people in Inverness and Leesburg.

HT:  Teddi Rusnak

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