Economic growth was the topic of a workshop held with the Gadsden County Development Council (GCDC) and the Board of County Commissioners last week.
Beth Kirkland, the director of the GCDC, gave an overview of what her organization has been doing since November.
The GCDC was funded by the commission for $100,000 in this year’s budget to head economic development for the county.
Kirkland explained that the GCDC is now actively involved with the Enterprise Council, Florida’s Great Northwest, Opportunity Florida, Career Source Capital Region, Riverway South and the Gadsden County Tourist Development Council.
Kirkland stated that in February the GCDC met with CSX Railroad in Greensboro, where the discussion centered around local rail development.
The most recent meeting, she said, was with Antonio Pons, President of Sicamu, Inc., the new company that is locating in the former Print House in Quincy.
Familiarization tours of Greensboro, Gretna, Havana, Midway and Chattahoochee, where the communities’ assets were discussed, was another project of the GCDC, she said.
Additionally, members of the GCDC have been attending industry trade shows and the GCDC has been actively participating in placing profiles of the county and municipalities on Enterprise Florida’s website, highlighting 15 buildings and business sites as a marketing tool.
Kirkland spoke about the GCDC gathering the inventory of available sites in the county for future use in marketing the county to potential buyers or businesses.
Two assets about Gadsden County she talked about were the railroads and Interstate transportation opportunities that are available.
Those railroads are the AN Railway that passes through Greensboro, CSX that runs east and west through Midway, Quincy, Gretna and Chattahoochee, and CSX that runs through Havana.
Four properties, she said, had been identified in Gadsden County as potential industrial sites because of those transportation assets.
She said the GCDC is now at a point to start generating leads for potential businesses in the county.
According to Kirkland, Governor Scott has made economic growth a priority for the state and Gadsden County has many opportunities.
Among those she mentioned are: transportation and logistics (access to rail and Interstate); agri-business; manufacturing; law enforcement training, services and supplies (associated with the Florida Public Safety Institute); eco-tourism; and construction materials and services.
Commissioner Gene Morgan asked Kirkland about private sector involvement with the GCDC.
Kirkland replied that the private sector was extremely important to the process and said there were private sector GCDC board members.
Morgan went on to say that the county commission has a responsibility for economic development.
“Our job is to be proactive to the right audience,” Morgan said referring to prospective new businesses.
Commissioner Sherrie Taylor said the most important thing the commission could do was be supportive of the GCDC.
She then asked what the commission could do to help.
Commissioner Brenda Holt said she wanted an emphasis on the county’s four Interstate interchanges and would like to see growth there.
Commissioner Doug Croley asked if adjoining counties were going to be made aware of the opportunities being made available in Gadsden County in reference to expansion possibilities.
Kirkland responded that they were reaching out to the business community about locations in Gadsden County.
Chairman Eric Hinson said he thought the county was moving forward in economic development with the GCDC. He thanked the county commission for being bold and funding the GCDC.