Business development growing jobs in Glades

PALM BEACH COUNTY — District 6 Commissioner Melissa McKinlay last week passed along to constituents in west county a report from the Business Development Board (BDB) showing the Glades region has gained nearly 400 jobs in recent years due to its cooperative efforts.

Over the past few years, the BDB says, the Glades Region of Palm Beach County, including Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay, has attracted nearly 400 jobs as a result from the Business Development Board’s economic development efforts, in partnership with the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic Alliance of Palm Beach County, and the Palm Beach County government. From manufacturing to technology, it’s been a diverse group of industries recruited to the area. These efforts have not only brought new opportunities to local residents but have made unique connections throughout the community.

The BDB lists these developments: TechGarage has expanded to Belle Glade and hired robotics coaches from Palm Beach State College’s Belle Glade campus, adding eight jobs in Belle Glade. Tellus Products created 100 jobs in Belle Glade in 2018 and is now selling its sugarcane plates on Amazon.com. Ms. McKinlay reports that Universal Forest Products has also decided to grow in Belle Glade, adding 220 jobs in 2018.

Dos Primos Supermarket brought 22 jobs to the region; the Harmack Company, five. Florida Community Health Centers established 15 jobs in Pahokee in 2016, and Glades Formulating Company brought nine to the Glades region, for a total over those four years of 379.

“Prospects in the pipeline,” the BDB says are:
Project Cannon, 50 jobs, and Project Slick, 25 jobs, both in Belle Glade; Project Cotton, 100 jobs, and Project Lemon, 15 jobs in the Glades region.

But, says its report, encouraging this type of growth in the area doesn’t just happen overnight. In fact, the BDB has a full time staff member, Shereena Coleman, vice president of business facilitation for the Glades Region, constantly fostering relationships and overseeing the BDB’s attraction and expansion efforts in the region.

On average each year, the BDB provides nearly 100 points of assistance to local companies, attends 15 community outreach meetings, and visits over 20 local companies in the Glades region. These efforts provide one-on-one technical assistance and transactional “matchmaking” with financiers, talent developers, procurement specialists, government officials and real estate resources, to name a few. This strategy has resulted in nearly 200 additional possible jobs for the region from fostering and helping these companies grow.

In addition to offering assistance to local companies, the BDB is actively marketing the region as an ideal business location to companies across the nation. There’s a dedicated microsite, pbcglades.org, and a new brochure, both utilized to showcase the assets and advantages to locating a company in the Glades region. There are also national outreach efforts in action, including the BDB’s digital ad campaign, the annual “Profile” magazine and quarterly “Palm Beach County Business” magazine that highlight why it’s a strategic location.

More than 50 articles have been shared on that website, says Commissioner McKinlay, plus five national outreach efforts were promoted.

“The Glades Region is the crossroads for 12 million people in South Florida and is within a 100-mile radius of most of the state’s population. With plenty of developable land available, it’s a strategic location for business,” said Ms. Coleman.

Chris Felker can be reached at cfelker@newszap.com.

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