FloridaFirstSites.com Showcases Shovel-Ready Sites for Prospects

Gulf Power Company has launched an interactive website to market key industrial sites to lure new businesses to Northwest Florida.

FloridaFirstSites.com includes aerial photographs and highlights the details of 13 prime industrial sites in Northwest Florida that are going through the company’s site certification program. The program is designed to create an inventory of shovel-ready parcels of land that a business prospect can occupy quickly.

“Having great sites is key to being competitive for new jobs,” said John Hutchinson, Gulf Power’s director of Community and Economic Development. “Our site certification program is designed to help communities get in the game when it comes to economic development.”

The Florida First Sites website was created with site selectors and businesses in mind and provides details about each of the sites, including size, proximity to commercial transportation, demographics of the area and specific benefits of each site. Gulf Power, along with local, regional and state economic development organizations, are marketing the sites to business prospects and consultants using the website, advertising and promotional brochures for trade shows and conferences.

Many other states have certified sites, but Gulf Power’s program is the first of its kind in Florida.

The 13 sites were submitted last year by landowners in six counties across Northwest Florida — one each in Escambia and Okaloosa counties, two each in Bay and Walton counties, three in Jackson County and four in Santa Rosa County. They include both public and private landowners. All of the sites are on a timeline to complete the certification process by September.

“We want to show prospects sites with no risk — just like getting a home inspected before you purchase it,” Hutchinson said. “Companies today want to move quickly to market and they are not going to wait for two years while you get the site ready.”

Gulf Power hired McCallum Sweeney, a nationally known site consultant firm from South Carolina, to evaluate the sites, determine what improvements needed to be made and then certify the sites once all the requirements were met. Landowners have been working during the last year to complete the identified improvements. The requirements include permitting, producing engineering reports, making sure adequate utilities are available to the site and other factors. Gulf Power is paying half the consultant charges for publicly owned sites with private landowners paying the full amount.

“We’re extremely pleased with the program,” Hutchinson said. “Having certified sites will help give Northwest Florida a competitive edge.”

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