From manufacturing hubs and roadway improvements, to myriad residential developments on tap — Pasco County has much to be thankful for during these unique and challenging times.
That was the overarching message put forth by Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley at the annual Zephyrhills Economic Summit, held in October at Zephyrhills City Hall.
The county commissioner was among featured speakers during the event organized by the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce.
Oakley exuded optimism about Pasco’s future, from the moment he stepped up to the microphone: “Goodness gracious, you couldn’t ask for a busier county, and a busier East Pasco county,” he said.
He’s particularly bullish on an influx of manufacturing opportunities throughout East Pasco.
One case in point: A new industrial park in Lacoochee, headlined by a 25-acre precast concrete plant, with room for additional tenants.
The little town just north of Dade City has struggled to find development for decades — since Cummer’s lumber mill closed back in 1959.
Upgrades to Cummer Road and Bower Road in the area, plus workforce housing opportunities, provide “improvements we need for that manufacturing going there,” Oakley said.
There’s other potential boons, too, such as the 99-acre wastewater spray field on Old Pasco Road in Wesley Chapel that’s being developed as a commercial park by the Atlanta-based Rooker Company.
Oakley also mentioned two warehouses that, taken together, total more than 900,000 square feet, and are set to be developed along State Road 52 and Interstate 75.
“Most people haven’t heard about them, but they’re coming. I’ve been told by the developer that they’re coming. They’re going to provide 600 to 800 jobs,” Oakley said.
People moving to the area for work are going to need places to live, of course.
That’s no problem, as the area continues to add to its residential options.
Oakley pointed to thousands of new homes that are underway, or will be, in large subdivisions in Zephyrhills, and in master-planned developments, including Mirada in San Antonio, and Connected City and WaterGrass in Wesley Chapel.
Oakley also highlighted some major transportation improvements.
Those projects include:
- Widening County Road 54
- Improving the intersection at State Road 54 and Eiland Boulevard/Morris Bridge Road
- Creating the diverging diamond at Interstate 75 and State Road 56
- Building a new interchange at I-75 and Overpass Road
- Realigning the intersection at U.S. 301/U.S. 98/Clinton Avenue
- Widening State Road 50, from North Pasco across the Hernando County line
- Paving projects on Eighth Avenue and on Jerome Road
Oakley underscored the significance of improving the roadways and transportation connections — in the quest to boost the region’s economy.
“You connect all these roads, and you look at the transportation value you have in the roads, and moving of people and products across our county, and with manufacturing and being able to move out from this area to other parts, and come into this area.
“Think about all the road projects, and if they get done. What a change that’ll be to our county and the way we move traffic,” the commissioner said.
In summation, the area’s complementary blend of infrastructure, industrial jobs and housing opportunities signal more positive economic times ahead for the region, Oakley reasoned.
“You’ve got everything that’s going to make this economy boom. You’re talking about a stimulus where, ‘You build and they’ll come.’ People are coming. People are coming from the north, from other areas into this area.
“It’s just amazing what’s going to happen in our area, and it’s a change. Think about three or four years down the road, how these things come about, so it’s great things to look forward to,” Oakley said.
He also pointed to the county’s efforts to reduce bureaucratic red tape that can hamper progress.
Besides being a commissioner, Oakley’s experience includes working in his family’s citrus and agriculture business with his brother and father, and serving as vice president of the family’s transportation company, Oakley Transport, which hauls liquid food commodities in stainless steel tanks.
He understands the need for government efficiency.
“I’ve had my hand in a lot of different businesses and all. I know what we don’t want to see when we go to get a permit, and what we do want to see is a happy face and, ‘Here’s how you get through the process.’ We try to streamline things and make things better for everyone,” Oakley said.
Published November 11, 2020