Highlands County Economic Development Updates - September 2018

11 Sep, 2018 | News | 0 Comments | Return|


Highlands County Economic Development
Connections - Highlands County Economic Development Updates
It's been one year since Hurricane Irma hit Highlands County. We'd like to use this time as a reminder of the importance of preparing your business for the next disaster. We know you’re busy and it’s hard to find time for one more thing. Planning helps you resume operations more quickly, and it gives a competitive advantage by providing customers assurance that you’re prepared to serve them even after a disaster. You don't have to go at it alone. The Small Business Development Center's certified business consultants provide consulting at no cost, and can help you develop a comprehensive business continuity, emergency preparedness, and disaster recovery plan tailored for your business, at no cost.

The Economic Development office has also launched a Disaster web page that contains a concise guide of resources that are available to assist businesses - www.HighlandsBusiness.com/Disaster. We will use this page to communicate the information our businesses need before, during and after disasters, such as status of emergency loans, online damage assessments, and any other resources that are extended to the community. Visit HighlandsBusiness.com/Disaster for the details and resources.
We sincerely thank everyone who took time to complete our community survey last month. We know your time is precious, and we greatly appreciate your care for our community! Your input will be used to develop the strategic plan that will guide economic development efforts for our community. We will provide updates to you as we progress through the project. 

SBDC Financing Your Business

2 to 4 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13
South Florida State College Building H, Room 110
Fee: $ 10.00 
Register 863-784-7405
(CRN 11253)
This seminar will help you zero in on the right funding choices for you and avoid money scams. Our financing veteran will educate you on how to ask for a loan, get prepared for the bank and where to find money in a tight-fisted economy. Full details here.
Monthly Webinars Offered by SBA and SCORE
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, offer a variety of free webinars and trainings to strengthen businesses and help them succeed. Topics in September explore sales, online and community branding, process improvement, how to create brand ambassadors, LLC vs. S-Corp, website creation, marketing and more. View the full schedule here. 
Highlands County Industrial Development /
Economic Development Commission Board Meeting

7:30 a.m. / Wednesday, Sept. 12 
The Hotel Jacaranda, Ward Room
19 E. Main St., Avon Park, FL 33825
Meeting Information

Sebring Chamber Business Expo
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. / Friday, Oct. 5
Jack Stroup Civic Center
345 W. Center Ave., Sebring, FL 33870
Event Details

Florida Rural Economic Development Summit
"Retooling Florida's Rural Workforce"

Oct. 24 and Oct. 25
Embassy Suites Orlando - Lake Buena Vista South
This event is open to anyone interested in advancing economic development efforts in Florida's rural communities. The Highlands County Economic Development office is attending, and we encourage you all to join us. Event details here. 

Aviation and aerospace industry development in Highlands and Polk counties recently received a boost when the Central Florida Regional Planning Council (CFRPC) was awarded a $300,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Disaster Supplemental Grant.

The impact from Hurricane Irma on Polk and Highlands counties added to challenges faced due to the region’s lack of economic diversification and low wages and highlighted the need to bring in more resilient and higher wage jobs. “Aviation was identified as an emerging industry in the most recent five-year regional economic development plan for Highlands and Polk counties and so this grant opportunity from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is coming to us at the perfect time. It will allow us to foster the growth of the aviation industry, diversifying the economy and providing stable long-term job growth” stated Executive Director of the CFRPC, Pat Steed. Read more here.


Highlands County secured two grants from the Competitive Florida Partnership and Community Planning Technical Assistance grant programs offered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

The Board of County Commissioners’ Planning Department was awarded a $40,000 Technical Assistance grant to fund the development of a Financial Feasibility Analysis and a Housing Market Study as well as draft amendments to the Housing Element, Future Land Use Element, and the Future Land Use Map Series of the county’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan to implement the findings of the Housing Study.

The county was also awarded a Competitive Florida grant of $22,500. Read more here. 


At their last meeting, the Highlands County Tourist Development Council (TDC) approved two requests to earmark marketing funds in their 2018-2019 budget to help advertise and promote two new events occurring in Highlands County during the off-season tourism period of April-November. The TDC voted to support the Michelin Sportscar Encore event, which will be held Nov. 9-11 at Sebring International Raceway.  The event, which will feature auto racing and a Saturday evening concert, will attract car racing enthusiasts, as well as concert and festival goers. The TDC plans to support the event with $10,000 for out-of-county advertising and $10,000 for the concert performer. The second event the TDC voted to support is a series of epic Biblical plays that are re-locating from their previous location in Hardee County to the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts in Avon Park.  In previous years, Power and Light Productions has produced The Story of Jesus and The Story of Moses with each attracting 12,000+ people with more than 70% of attendees from outside of Highlands and Hardee counties. The Highlands County performances will take place in April 2019 with exact dates to be determined. The TDC plans to support the event with $20,000 designated for out-of-county advertising.   


24/7 Wall Street created an index using the share of bridges, roads, and dams that are in a state of disrepair or potentially hazardous, to identify the states with the best and worst infrastructure.  Read more here.


Florida makes its way onto a bunch of “best” and “worst” lists, and when it comes to the top places for women to start a business, we’re right at the top. Read more here. 



Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) will lead a delegation of small and mid-sized Florida businesses on an export sales mission to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from November 13-16. Registration to attend is now open. 

“This export sales mission will provide small businesses with an excellent opportunity to enter or expand in the Dominican Republic market,” said Manny Mencia, senior vice president of international trade and development for EFI. “The Dominican Republic holds vast opportunities for Florida companies interested in increasing their footprint in the region’s market, and Florida’s proximity to the Caribbean makes the state a top choice for businesses there.”

One-third of all U.S. exports to Latin America and the Caribbean flow through Florida, and the Sunshine State has one of the largest concentrations of knowledge-based service providers specializing in the region. The state offers a strong support network of consular corps, chambers of commerce and sister cities to help Latin American and Caribbean businesses invest in Florida. Florida-based companies looking to expand internationally can take advantage of the comprehensive exporting assistance provided by Enterprise Florida and its economic development partners. Read more here.



Veterans Florida has selected the newest group of Network Partner Organizations to participate in their Entrepreneurship Program. The program offers online and in-person instruction to provide veterans with the knowledge necessary to open and operate their own business. Nearly one in four active duty service members and veterans want to own and operate their own business. To aid in their efforts, the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program was created to provide cost-effective, online or in-person instruction. The program offers three different pathways designed to match each individual’s level of knowledge and busy schedule. Read more here.

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Highlands County Economic Development
501 S. Commerce Ave.
Sebring, FL 33870
Copyright © 2018 Highlands County Economic Development, All rights reserved.

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Enhancing the quality of life in Highlands County by attracting a variety of new businesses and increasing industrial investment, all while facilitating the retention and successful expansion of existing businesses and industry.

Keep In Touch

Economic Development
Highlands County Board of County Commissioners
(P) 863.402.6924
(F) 863.402.6651