Don’t let our small-town ambiance fool you – Sebring and Highlands County are business friendly, vibrant and planning for the future. We have significant assists:
• Considerable cost savings for labor-intensive business and industry.
• An accommodating tax structure.
• A low cost of living, particularly for land and housing.
• A strong agricultural work ethic.
• Employer satisfaction with employee work ethic.
• An ample, trainable, productive workforce.
• Proximity to Florida markets.
• Several major metropolitan areas within 150 miles.
• The availability of local Enterprise and Foreign Trade zones.
• A strong public/private cooperation attractive for business.
• A wealth of civic pride.
Leaders make an effort to think creatively, for example, institutions and agencies are networking and working together.
The Economic Development Commission of Highlands County, Heartland, Inc. The South Florida Community College and the Rural Economic Development Initiative created the Small Business Development Center. It provides business counseling and training to Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto counties. The center is at the college, with a full-time business analyst on staff. Most training and counseling is provided free of charge.
A partnership between Opportunity Florida and REDI won a $26 million grant to provide broadband to the region’s schools, libraries, government offices and healthcare facilities. The initiative enhances the area’s high-speed data transfer and is expected to draw new technology business.
Highlands County and Sebring Regional Airport are home to the South Central Florida Catalyst Project. This premier $25 million economic development project is designed to bring new industries and jobs to our region. A list of target industries, developed by regional leaders, provides guidance in marketing efforts for the project.
The airport is also working with the Avon Community Redevelopment Agency and the EDC to create two business incubators. Incubator tenants are required to provide business plans and participate in discussions. Those accepted into the program are provided classroom training, mentoring and peer group networking.
Land Use Within the municipalities, land is regulated by the respective governing bodies, guided by appointed advisory planning and zoning agencies. Land use in the unincorporated portions of Highlands County is regulated by the Board of County Commissioners. The Planning and Zoning Board, in the government center complex in Sebring, is an advisory one; its members are appointed by the county commission.
Highlands County encompasses 701,709 acres. Of that, more than 3,500 acres are zoned for industrial development.
Industrial Parks Covering 2,000 acres, Sebring Regional Airport is a prime location for manufacturing and distribution businesses. It is a full-service park with rail service, operated by the Sebring Airport Authority. The entire site is designated as Foreign Trade Zone #215. It is also a part of the Highlands County Enterprise Zone. Other industrial parks exist in the county, most falling within the local Enterprise Zone.
Industrial Properties An up-to-date building and land inventory is maintained by the EDC at www.highlandsedc.com. Local developers will build to suit with attractive lease or purchase offers.