Team Levy considers 9 ways to grow economically

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By Mark Scohier

There are nine areas of potential economic growth for Levy County.   

John Adams, president and chief executive officer of Enterprise Florida, who was one of two key speakers at a Team Levy meeting on Aug. 13, said, “We’re trying to look over the horizon just a little bit to see where those target markets are.”   

Adams said  Levy, as well as the rest of Florida, should focus on aviation and aerospace, clean energy, life science, manufacturing, information technology, homeland security, corporate headquarters, financial and professional services, and emerging technologies.   

He said it’s important that the county develops and maintains good economic practices like global branding, promoting exports, having a pro-business attitude and promoting a favorable business climate — with competitive business costs and tax structure.   

“Companies want predictability.  Some counties are jackin’ up fees … they’ll go elsewhere.”   

He also said the county should take advantage of opportunities related to its hospitals, educational institutions and infrastructure.   

“Broadband will change this county,” he said.  “That is gonna’ be one of the biggest breakthroughs for the counties.”   

According to Enterprise Florida’s website, the four areas currently showing the most economic growth for Levy County are:   

• trade, transportation and utilities, 19 percent;    

• public administration, 10.1 percent;    

• leisure and hospitality, 9.6 percent;

• manufacturing, 8.6 percent.   

Dr. Charles Dassance, president of Central Florida Community College, told the county's leaders, “We (CFCC) have a very important presence here, and I think we’re going to have a more significant one here in the future.”   

Dassance said as new jobs come into the area, CFCC would play an important role in training and educating.   

For example, Dassance said the proposed nuclear power plant proposed for southern Levy County creates the need for CFCC to offer a two-year technical program geared toward employment at the facility.   

“We’re working closely with Progress Energy to help meet the needs at the new plant.”    Dassance also said plans for a permanent CFCC campus in Levy County are still in the works. He said a 35-acre site has been acquired on U.S. Highway 19 between Chiefland and Fanning Springs, and that CFCC has received about $4 million in private funding for the project.  State funding is still pending.   

He said the project, which is estimated to cost about $9 to $10 million, went on hold about one  year ago because of the declining economy's effect on state revenue.

 But, he added, the extra time has given CFCC and area residents more time to plan.   

“We’re interested in having you (the community) be involved in helping us figure out what this space will be.”   

Dassance said money not used in the construction of the new campus would be set aside for future Levy County programs.