December Economic Development Updates

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Highlands County Economic Development


Connections - Highlands County Economic Development Updates


The U.S. Small Business Administration announced TWO disaster declarations applicable to Highlands County residents and businesses related to Hurricane Dorian and Tropical Storm Nestor.

If your business suffered economic injury as a result of Hurricane Dorian or Tropical Storm Nestor AND/OR if your business or residence suffered physical, economic, or home disaster from tornadoes as a result of Tropical Storm Nestor, you may be eligible for these U.S. SBA disaster relief loan programs.

Additional information including DOWNLOADABLE FACT SHEETS and APPLICATION DEADLINES can be found at www.HighlandsBusiness.com/Disaster.

If you need assistance applying for these programs, our local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is available to help. Our local SBDC consultant is Michael Noel, located at South Florida State College and he can be reached at
863-784-7378 or https://sbdctampabay.com/highlands/.




3rd Annual Leadership Highlands Career Day

8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 
January 8, 2020
Alan Jay Arena, Sebring
FREE spaces for all presenting businesses.
Showcase your business and career opportunities to High School students across Highlands County. 
View the flyer and sign up information here.


SBA Online Webinars
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE offer a variety of free webinars and trainings to strengthen businesses and help them succeed.

View the January schedule here.

SFSC Corporate Education Classes
South Florida State College offers a variety of corporate training options ranging from soft skills to technology courses to conflict management and more. The Corporate College also offers customized training to help meet the needs of your business. 

View the full course catalogs online.






Special to Highlands News-Sun 

AVON PARK — South Florida State College (SFSC) is one of seven colleges in Florida awarded with the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant.

During the 2019 Legislative Session, Governor Ron DeSantis worked with the Florida Legislature to secure historic funding for Florida’s students and families, including $10 million dedicated to career and technical education for the newly created Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program. The program provides competitive grants to eligible institutions to create or expand apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

SFSC was awarded the grant toward a new Advanced Patient Care Technician (APCT) Apprenticeship program in partnership with CareerSource Heartland and AdventHealth. The program will prepare apprentices for employment as nursing assistants, home health aides and healthcare support occupations encompassing skills in phlebotomy and electrocardiography.

Read more here. 



Highlands News-Sun by Marc Valero

AVON PARK — The City Council has approved more than $2.2 million in expenses for the north utility extension to provide service to the Nucor steel mill that is under construction and future development.

At a recent City Council meeting, Infrastructure Director Ronnie Jones said for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Rural Infrastructure Grant, the city has received an approval letter so it can incur costs, but can’t bill the state until there is a signed agreement.

“Hopefully we will have it very soon,” he said.

The city should spend the money from the approved Florida Department of Economic Opportunity grant and by the time those funds have expired the Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant will be signed and ready.

Read more here.



Highlands News-Sun by Marc Valero

AVON PARK — Nic Colbert, 15, of Sebring High School became the first person to complete a run in the southbound and northbound lanes of Panther Parkway.

He completed the Panther Parkway 5K Run/Walk with a time of 17:29.4. It took just a little over an hour to get everyone through the finish line, and then Highlands County Traffic Operations crews removed all the barricades and barrels.

Panther Parkway, from the Memorial Drive roundabout to the Sebring Roundabout, then opened to motorists at 11 a.m. Saturday.

County Engineer Clinton “Gator” Howerton Jr., who also documented the start of the 5K from overhead via drone, said traffic on the road was moving smoothly.

Read more here.



Highlands News-Sun By Marc Valero

AVON PARK — In the fall of 2017, Avon Park High School started its AP Capstone program — an innovative diploma program aimed at providing skills that will serve students well in college and in their career.

AP Capstone is a program established by the College Board, a not-for-profit organization that is known for the SAT college entrance exam.

APHS Principal Danielle Erwin said the Capstone program requires two yearlong AP (advanced placement) courses: AP seminar and AP research.

Michael Scofield, who coordinates the program, said the seminar class has around 100 students now. It started three years ago with 33 students. Today, about 10% of the school’s student population is in that program.

“We are seeing growth in the amount of AP scholar awards the College Board gives out,” he said. “We are up about 125% with that and we are seeing success in the actual class. Last year, in AP research, around 70% of the kids passed the exam, which is unheard of for AP exams.”

Read more here.



Superintendent Corner by Dr, Brenda Longshore

When some people hear the name Florida, images of beaches and theme parks are the first things that come to mind. Here in Florida’s Heartland, we know that our state is much more diverse than that, and our inland region represents what many consider the “real” Florida.

Agriculture is a major industry in our region and across the state. Our climate makes it ideal for growing a wide variety of crops. There are over 47,000 commercial farms in Florida, and our state produces nearly 300 different commodities. Florida is one of the most agriculturally diverse producers in the nation.

To ensure our agricultural future is as rich as our history, the School Board of Highlands County has many agriculture coursework and enrichment opportunities across all grade levels that I would like to highlight this month.

Read more here.



Video by Superintendent Dr. Brenda Longshore

Take a few minutes to watch a monthly update from Dr. Bredna Longshore for a behind-the-scenes look at a great new opportunity available to local students through the High School Aviation / Aerospace Program located at Sebring Regional Airport.

View the video here.



By John Rousch, Director of Highlands Aviation & Aerospace Academy

The symposium was a sell-out with 368 attendees. This was my second year attending as a presenter. As I looked at my scheduled session, I was in the “Dead Zone.” I was in the last flight of sessions at the end of a very busy day. People were going to be tired, hungry, and wanting to chill out and take time to absorb all that went on. I was not anticipating more than a few folks I had talked to earlier in the day and encouraged them to attend my session on “How to Pitch an Aviation Program to Your Administration.” When 3:30 p.m. rolled around and my meeting room was nearly full, we were off to a fun and productive session.

So, what has this symposium meant to me and our community aviation program developing “Options and Opportunities” for our youth? It has confirmed we are doing the right things and we are on a path that will assist in the future success of our youth. Our community and the partnership of The School Board of Highlands County, the Sebring Regional Airport, Career Source Heartland, and EAA Chapter 1240 has been recognized as a “Best Practice” for others with similar goals to use a format for their program development. Thank you, Highlands County, you are the wind beneath our wings.

Read more here.



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Highlands County Economic Development
501 S. Commerce Ave.
Sebring, FL 33870

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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