It’s full steam ahead in building upon the industrial park infrastructure in Santa Rosa County.
The county is committing roughly $2.8 million of Triumph money toward phased improvements at the Northwest Florida Industrial Park at Interstate 10.
Triumph Gulf Coast awarded the county $3.5 million in September of 2020 for infrastructure improvements at the park. The latest construction award will include a master stormwater pond, a two-lane roadway into the park, a lift station and force main piping, and water service connections.
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Santa Rosa Commission Chairman Bob Cole told the News Journal he was pleased with the commitment to the industrial infrastructure.
“We feel like we’re doing a real good job,” Cole said. “… We’ve got quite a few prospective tenants looking at that park already.”
The Northwest Florida Industrial Park at I-10 is about 90 acres and is dedicated mainly to the transportation sector.
The park was meant to welcome the long-awaited “Project Unstoppable,” but the unidentified company recently decided to pull out.
Last September, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to accept a $2.5 million bid from a developer in the Midwest to build on about 50 acres of the industrial park as part of “Project Unstoppable.”
The last remaining parcel at this park, which was 7 acres, has been spoken for by a distribution company.
The Pennsylvania-based ice cream brand, Hershey’s Ice Cream, is also relocating its distribution facility in Pensacola to the park
That facility is set to be constructed in an 8-acre parcel and the company has submitted a bid of about $300,000 for the land.
It is expected to take about three years for the facility to be up and running, and the company will have a minimum of 20 employees.
that the industrial parks are an important component of the county.
“I think the industrial parks are an integral part of the overall economic development of the county. I think it’s only one part,” County Commissioner Colten Wright told the News Journal. “We obviously have tourism, and tourism is a significant part of the economy for Santa Rosa County. But, it would be unwise to try to rely only on that.”
Cole recognized that the county is limited on available space at its industrial parks, and he added there were some factors outside the county’s control that are impacting potential tenants’ decisions.
“Unfortunately, right now, several of the tenants are a little gun-shy because of the high cost of development,” Cole said. “They’ve got their options open but they’re kind of taking a wait-and-see attitude hoping that construction costs will level off or perhaps come down before they go ahead and move forward.”
He also credited industrial parks with offering jobs good enough to keep talent in Santa Rosa County. But Cole said that Florida has its own challenges because of the threat of natural disaster.
“Insurance gets us because we’re in Florida and because we’re expected to have hurricanes. Some insurance companies have a much higher premium for a company that wants to move here, (rather) than moving up to Montgomery or somewhere like that,” Cole said.
Cole said suggested that the state legislature should explore a way to alleviate those insurance costs.