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BDB and Lore Announce Three Business Prospects for the Glades

/ December 29, 2014

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CLEWISTON — Key members of the business and development community gathered at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center in Belle Glade to discuss updates of the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic (LORE) Alliance of Palm Beach County.

In 2013, LORE entered a partnership with the Business Development Board (BDB) of Palm Beach County to further develop economic opportunities for the tri-cities.

Since the partnership was formed, the two organizations have developed key marketing tools to help attract businesses to the Glades and began prospecting initiatives to seek out certain business sectors.

Some of the marketing tools include features in the BDB’s magazine which is sent across the country, direct email marketing campaigns, brochures and postcards. BDB even met with the tri-city leaders to go over talking points they can use when approached by businesses surveying the area.

The BDB was also proactive in approaching potential businesses by meeting with site selection consultants in three major U.S. cities, including New York, Dallas and Atlanta. The consultants were able to measure the needs of new projects against the merits of potential locations within the Glades.

With all of these initiatives, BDB President and CEO Kelly Smallridge announced there were three serious prospects looking to locate to the Glades area. “It takes 30 suspects to get one serious prospect,” said Smallridge. Careful not to reveal sensitive information in the early stages of negotiations, Smallridge would only use codenames when speaking about the prospective companies.

One of the companies, codenamed Carbon, is a soil enrichment company looking to create about 100 new jobs over five years with an initial $7 million investment. The second company, codenamed Gemini, is a manufacturing facility that would create about 250 new jobs with a $175 million initial investment; while the third company, codenamed Sweet, is a light manufacturing company that would create about 60 new jobs with a $7 million initial investment.

Each of the potential projects would require construction and would be built to suit.

“We’re optimistic, but there is a ton of work that goes into making sure these projects come to fruition,” said Smallridge.

Smallridge also said the hiring of local workers and contractors is critical and emphasized during each negotiation.

Following Smallridge’s presentation, Chief Operating Officer of Boyette Strategic Advisors, Tracy Sharp, presented a summary of her project which sought to identify business sectors and develop a list of potential companies that would work in the Glades area.

Taking into consideration both the assets of and challenges faced in the Glades, Sharp said the business sectors tailored to the area would be agri-business and food manufacturing, recreational tourism and retirement and home health care services.

Sharp said the region’s proximity to seaports, airports and people (the Glades is 100 miles within three seaports, four international airports and 7.5 million population); expected population growth; abundance of undeveloped land; and low median age were all assets that would help attract businesses, especially within those sectors.

Some of the challenges the Glades faces when it comes to attracting businesses are income level and poverty; and educational attainment — roughly 22 percent of the Glades-area population has a ninth grade or lower education level, compared to six percent in the county; while only about 15 percent of the Glades population has an associates degree or higher, compared to about 42 percent in the county.

However, Sharp said the assets’ list was longer than the challenges.

“There are a lot of assets that I think are going to help you move forward in the next three to five years,” said Sharp.
Sharp also suggested the Glades region brand itself not just as “The Glades” but as “The Glades of Palm Beach County,” which would offer valuable name recognition for outside companies.

Towards the end of the gathering, Smallridge announced the BDB is committed to continuing its partnership with LORE into years four, five and six. The partnership was initially formed with a three-year commitment only.

“We want to continue this partnership. … We’re here to create jobs in this area,” said Smallridge.

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