Local business and government leaders in Zephyrhills will join together for an event that will spotlight the city’s industrial corridor and ongoing efforts to cultivate high-wage manufacturing jobs.
The third annual Zephyrhills Economic Summit is scheduled for Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Zephyrhills City Hall, 5335 Eighth St., in Zephyrhills.
The summit primarily will focus on the city’s forthcoming industrial corridor master plan and Zephyrhills Municipal Airport runway extension, according to a press release from the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce.
Other topics will broach infrastructure and the East Pasco roadway network, plus updates on various state and county intergovernmental collaboration projects in the region.
The event is presented by the Zephyrhills Economic Development Coalition (ZEDC) in partnership with the City of Zephyrhills and the Zephyrhills chamber.
Registration is $10 and will include lunch and continental breakfast.
The summit will feature interactive discussions and presentations from the following speakers:
- Billy Poe, Zephyrhills city manager Billy Poe
- Dr. Randy Stovall, Zephyrhills chamber president
- Todd Vande Berg, city planning director
- Mohsen Mohammadi, chief operations officer for American Infrastructure Development
- David Gwynn, District 7 secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
- Randy Maggard, State Rep. District 38
- Ron Oakley, chairman of the Pasco County Commission
- Tom Ryan, economic development manager for Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc.
- Danielle Ruiz, economic development manager for Duke Energy
Zephyrhills’ proposed industrial development hub focuses on a large grouping of industrial properties and adjacent areas within the Chancey Road corridor and municipal airport.
The planning area is generally bound by Melrose Avenue to the north, the CSX Transportation railroad and U.S. 301 to the west, Pattie Road to the south, and Barry Road and the Upper Hillsborough Wildlife Management Area to the east. That encompasses approximately 9.76 square miles (6,248 acres), including 33% within Zephyrhills and the remainder in unincorporated Pasco County — representing the largest aggregation of industrial lands in Pasco.
Zephyrhills chamber executive director Melonie Monson, who’s organizing the summit, underscored the need to build out the industrial corridor, to recruit employment-generating manufacturing companies and to develop a middle-class workforce in Zephyrhills.
The city is pining for a “medium-sized industrial manufacturer,” Monson said, to give local high school graduates a place to work, so they can remain in the community.
The chamber director believes that Zephyrhills could attract such a company soon. She cited the city’s recent efforts to partner with Pasco County to spend millions of dollars to extend water and sewer to the industrial site.
“It’s just ready for industry, it just is,” she said.
Monson put it this way: “We’re excited the city’s being proactive instead of reactive, so when that big person hits and says, ‘I want to come here,’ we’ll be ready for that and say, ‘Here’s your spot, this is what we have, these are the incentives, this is your workforce.’
“That’s what we’re working toward, to put all those pieces together to make sure that we get what we want here,” Monson said.
She said the industrial corridor also could pave the way for other companies in distribution, light manufacturing, aviation and so on.
“I believe it’s going to have a lot of different textures to it,” the chamber executive said.
She is encouraged by the city’s direction in recent years of attracting younger families and groups to live, work and play.
She mentioned the downtown area alone has added a brewery, a billiards hall and axe-throwing venue, and other things to do.
Zephyrhills also is in the midst of getting a state-of-the-art tennis center and thousands of new homes and apartments.
The city recently landed its first Starbucks and Wawa. A Chick-Fil-A in the works.
Other notable businesses set to come online include Aldi Supermarket, PetSmart, Marriott Fairfield Hotel and Dollar General.
“We’re getting there. In the last three or four years you’ve just seen this huge spur of development,” Monson said.
Previous Zephyrhills economic summits focused on the medical community and education. Monson said next year’s will likely be geared around workforce development.
The summits encourage stakeholders to collaborate to help move Zephyrhills forward as a viable community.
“We’re the only community in Pasco County that’s doing something like this — where we have a coalition that really focuses on pro-business, pro-education, trying to make our community stand out in the midst of all of the other communities.
“We just every year want to make sure that we let people know what we really have here and what we’re doing and why you might want to come and be a part of the Zephyrhills community,” Monson said.
Published October 2, 2019