The potential of Immokalee as a regional or state manufacturing, distribution center was on the mind of regional, state and private evaluators earlier this month when they toured the community.
The staff of two important state economic development agencies – Enterprise Florida and Florida's Heartland Regional Economic Development Initiative (FHREDI) – and a private investment firm – Site Selection Group – toured Immokalee July 15, hosted by the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).
The purpose of the visit was to evaluate the community of Immokalee against other interior Florida communities for its readiness to compete for regional manufacturing and distribution development. The exercise allowed the CRA constituent-partner agencies to assess the community competitiveness of Immokalee for future corporate investment.
During the visit members of these three agencies were given a windshield tour of the Immokalee community followed by a tour of the 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility near the Immokalee Regional Airport currently being offered for sale by Colliers International.
Career Source Southwest Florida staff members also provided details on job placement services, training, financial aid, internship programs and career development workshops.
CRA staff provided detailed information to the group on economic development incentives related to the Florida State Enterprise Zone Program, the Federal HUB Zone Program, Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern (RACEC) and Foreign Free Trade Zone incentives.
The tour ended with a visit to the Immokalee Technical Center (iTECH), where the group learned of the various programs of study offered by iTECH, its statistical data and how the facility can build training programs geared to a wide range of prospective industrial developers.
As the acting Enterprise Zone Coordinators for the community, the Immokalee CRA regularly provides technical assistance to local businesses searching for economic development incentive programs. The July site selection exercise furthers the CRA’s expertise in economic development, not only on a local level but also from a regional perspective.
Through strategic partnerships, the CRA will continue to explore and develop similar endeavors geared toward the shifting economic base of the community.
FHREDI is a regional economic development organization representing Desoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee Counties, the Cities of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay and the Community of Immokalee. Leveraging regional resources, FHREDI serves as a catalyst for government and business collaboration. Its purpose is to market, facilitate and advocate for economic development opportunities that will bolster the tax base and personal income for these areas. The targeted industries of the region are global trade and logistics, manufacturing, food processing and medical.