Marion County Board of County Commissioners unanimously adopted an Economic Element for the County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Yesterday’s vote is the culmination of years of work and a great deal of research by the County Commission and the Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
The Economic Element provides specific goals and objectives to guide the identification and development of potential sites for business/commerce parks as well as regional activity and employment centers. This will be a valuable tool for future planning and growth for Marion County, and help facilitate the attraction and expansion of companies interested in bringing quality jobs to our community. The Economic Element and Marion County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan will continue through the public hearing process and be submitted to DCA for final approval in December.
Vice Chair for Properties Dwayne Carlton has championed this cause for the EDC, “This vote is a huge step in the right direction. We applaud the County Commission and staff for their due diligence and work toward the goal of making our community more competitive when it comes to quality job creation. This is the culmination of one stage in this process – yet just the beginning in some ways. We still have a great deal of work to do.”
EDC President/CEO Pete Tesch is pleased with the adoption of the Element for future planning, but shares the community has not been idle while waiting for its final approval. “The EDC has been actively engaged with developers and investors on some very viable properties that should bring shovel ready sites to the market by the end of the year.”
After losing several major companies due to a lack of available commercial land, the EDC conducted research to determine areas of the County that would be potential sites for business/commerce parks. In 2006, an independent firm, Garnet Consulting Services, Inc., was contracted by the EDC to rank potential sites in the County. In 2007, Marion County contracted Wilson Miller to take ranking sites a step further. The Wilson Miller study contains a programmed model that will project the economic and community impact on development projects from business/commerce parks to retail centers and housing developments. These studies can be viewed on the Resources page of the EDC Web site. In 2008, the EDC formed a Sites Committee through its Raising the Bar Initiative to assimilate all the research studies and provide specific recommendations to make our community more competitive for quality jobs. One of those recommendations states: Strongly Advocate and Support the Inclusion of an Economic Development Component in the Marion County Comprehensive Plan. Since this recommendation was made, the EDC’s Sites Team served in an advisory capacity to assist the County with the drafting of the adopted Economic Element.
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