Business Development Board ramps up efforts

WEST PALM BEACH — The Business Development Board (BDB) of Palm Beach County has been active on several fronts in recent years in trying to build up the Glades Region’s economy.

Shereena Coleman, vice president for business facilitation and the Glades Region for the BDB, was asked last week to talk about their efforts after the latest Palm Beach County unemployment report indicated that the progress being seen is mostly in coastal communities. The Glades communities of Belle Glade, Canal Point, Pahokee and South Bay did not see their rates improve markedly while the overall county rate dropped to a record low.

“Over the past three years, the Business Development Board has brought 400 jobs into the Glades Region,” she said. “Aside from job creation, we have a dedicated staff person (that’s me) who specifically oversees that particular region for job creation, growth and new opportunities.”

The BDB has been trying to spread the word about how the far western reaches of the county hold much business opportunity, exemplified by vacant land and buildings, available development sites, working adults with low earnings who might be tempted to switch careers by all the education initiatives taking place in the Glades, and youth who in many cases are open to more advanced jobs or more technical careers than previous generations.

“Over the past few years, the BDB has met with a hundred local companies in Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay, as well as helped facilitate different forums to promote the area,” said Ms. Coleman. “Most recently, the BDB partnered with local organizations for an Economic Development Forum in the Glades Region at Palm Beach State College in Belle Glade.”

And there are plans for more, she added.

“There are also many education initiatives in movement, such as our Claim Your Future Showcase on Feb. 11, which students from all three cities attend to learn about the possible career paths available to them throughout Palm Beach County,” Ms. Coleman said.

In a news release sent out late last year, the BDB announced that the Glades was “having a business renaissance as it transforms from a rural economy to a magnet for smart companies seeking lower costs, excellent transportation, rail distribution and proximity to some of the most beautiful natural areas anywhere.” It bragged that the Glades “is beloved by visitors, eco-tourists, fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers as a scenic and vital freshwater resource, bass fishing paradise, birdwatching center and natural beauty area.

The news release described one project it has been collaborating on:
“Glades Gateway Commerce Park, a significant development in the City of Belle Glade, provides companies with a sizable piece of shovel-ready, industrially zoned land. Among the forward-thinking businesses moving to Glades Gateway Commerce Park are Los Vaqueros Inc., a supplier of food products to primarily Hispanic groceries in the South Florida area; Growers Management Inc., an agricultural management firm; and World Trade Petroleum, a company owned and operated by entrepreneurs from Romania who have patented burnt oil recycling.”

“The Glades area provides companies with 10,000 acres of developable industrial and commercial properties. Glades Gateway Commerce Park itself provides industrial zoning, existing availability of water, sewer, electric and natural gas utilities, 2,700 lineal feet of rail siding and a half-mile of frontage on U.S. 441, within a 100-mile radius of 7 million people — all only 38 miles from The Palm Beaches and Florida’s east coast, 90 miles from Fort Myers, Florida’s west coast,and the Gulf of Mexico, and 90 miles north of Miami.

“Recently putting down roots in the Glades Region are industrial services firm Harmack Company, Glades Formulating Company, eco-conscious manufacturer Tellus Products, and others,” the release said, “taking advantage of the benefits of the Glades Region as a growing hub for manufacturing, distributing/logistics, and industries that support agribusiness.”

The BDB’s office is at 310 Evernia St., West Palm Beach, and can be reached at 561-651-4125. To learn more online, go to their microsite, pbcglades.org, or the main website, bdb.org.

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