Charlotte County, FL — Governor Rick Scott announced on May 30 that Charlotte County will receive an $800,000 grant as part of the Florida Job Growth Fund. The Job Growth Fund provides financial assistance for public infrastructure projects and job training. Grant recipients are selected by the governor following recommendations from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership created to spur economic development in the state.
“Florida Job Growth Fund grants are awarded to a limited number of applicants. This grant shows that Gov. Scott and his team are believers in the economic potential of Charlotte County. We are proud of our strong working relationships with the state and sincerely appreciate being selected for a grant of this magnitude,” said Charlotte County Commission Chairman Ken Doherty.
In Charlotte County, grant funds will provide critical water line infrastructure to help complete the $8 million Piper Road North Extension project designed to drive growth near Punta Gorda Interstate Airport Park. A closed loop water line will run 1.2 miles from Henry Street to U.S. 17 to facilitate commercial development on Piper Road North. Infrastructure includes 7,000 feet of 12-inch water main with fire hydrant assemblies every 1,000 feet.
“The Piper Road extension is key to sustaining the growth objectives in Punta Gorda Airport’s Master Plan. We are pleased that this grant will bring water infrastructure to the entire corridor, creating more opportunities for our aviation and business communities to thrive,” said Charlotte County Airport Authority Commissioner Robert Hancik.
With water infrastructure in place, attracting companies to the area will become significantly easier. That will help generate new jobs within the community.
“It is vital to have a strong partnership between the city and county, and we are lucky to have that bond. You create it by seeing the big picture together and not getting bogged down in jurisdictional boundaries. Everyone here has the same vision – to help build a successful, vibrant home for our local families and businesses,” said Punta Gorda City Councilman Jaha Cummings.
Other benefits for the county and local businesses include:
Piper Road North will create a second main entrance to Punta Gorda Interstate Airport Park, one of the largest and most important industrial parks in Charlotte County. Two nearby ramps to I-75 will support commercial traffic.
Utility improvements on Piper Road will create approximately 100 acres of prime industrial zoned property with an estimated 500,000 square feet of tax base and 1,400 projected new jobs. Additionally, nearly 50 undeveloped acres on Piper Road are slated for industrial development with nearly 320,000 square feet of new tax base and additional new jobs.
Punta Gorda Interstate Airport Park spans 4,380 acres and hosts companies in manufacturing, regional warehousing and distribution. The park is home to facilities for Florida Southwestern College and The College of Aviation at Western Michigan University – Punta Gorda. The airport is designated as an Emergency Response Airport for Southwest Florida by the state, making roadway access critical for the community.
The Piper Road North Extension project is scheduled for completion by Feb. 17, 2019. The grant highlights a year of significant wins for economic development in Charlotte County, summed up by Lucienne Pears, Director of the county’s Office of Economic Development: “Charlotte County is riding a wave of success. One of the top aviation colleges in the country landed here. Amigo Pallets moved here to support Cheney Brothers, one of the largest food distributors in South Florida. Sunseeker Resorts selected Charlotte Harbor from sites around the country to launch its first resort development. We are building a strong foundation for the future and I truly believe the sky is the limit.”