The EDC convened key strategic partners from the private and public sector for a status briefing and familiarization tour of two new commerce parks earlier this month. The Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park (OMCP), formerly known as the Magna property, and the Ocala Business Park at Ocala International Airport are key properties with intersecting air and rail service capabilities that will lend credence to the effort to brand Ocala/Marion County as a Premier Logistics Destination.
This briefing offered the opportunity for private sector partners CSX Railroad, Florida Northern Railroad and Progress Energy to join with Enterprise Florida to learn more about the assets of these sites.
EDC President/CEO Pete Tesch introduced City and County officials and OMCP representatives who explained the tri-party agreement to develop the property. The owner/developer shared that while the project might take some time, the job impact for the community would be felt much sooner.
“There is an important, unintended advantage this project brings to the community. As far as jobs are concerned, once that rail line goes in, there will be an immediate impact. There is an inventory of dormant or under-utilized warehouse space in Ocala and Marion County. Having access to this rail line will help sell those properties right off the bat. When those warehouses come back to life, there are jobs for drivers, handlers and warehouse workers.” The owner/developer also recounted the community’s missed opportunities of the past with Walmart and Sysco. “With this tri-party agreement, we are providing certainty that the next time a prospect comes to town, they won’t have to believe promises or get votes to move forward; it will be ready.”
The developer’s consultant added the timeline is now narrowing for the site to be in sync with a prospect’s project.
“Within six to nine months, all the permitting for this property will be done. If a prospect comes to the table after August 17th, we will be pretty close to meeting their ability to get their building designed and permitted.”
Both City Council and the County Commission held public hearings on August 2nd and August 16th which culminated in a final vote of approval on the agreement to set the plan in motion.
In addition, City Executive Director of Municipal Development Marc Mondell reported on the progress of the Ocala Business Park. He shared that SW 67th Avenue, which connects the property to SR40, will be complete by November of this year.
Participants toured both sites to see firsthand the strategic advantages each has to offer. Site Consultant John Rhodes shared his enthusiasm for the collaboration and progress that has been made during the last few years. “It’s a new day for this community…your time has come!”