Approximately 435 acres of undeveloped land on the south end of the Daytona Beach International Airport property has long been eyed as a prime location for aviation- and aerospace-related businesses and the high-paying jobs they bring.
In January, the Volusia County Council unanimously approved a special designation of the property that will make it significantly more valuable to such companies without any cost to the taxpayers.
Making use of Florida’s Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, the council established a plan to speed up the state permitting process for companies looking to set up shop on the airport property. Economic-development boosters hope the plan will help entice more aviation and aerospace businesses to establish a presence in Volusia County.
Local business recruiters are also promoting other benefits of the site, like being right on airport property and adjacent to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in close proximity to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, and just down the road from transportation hubs I-4 and I-95.
The Florida Legislature established the Manufacturing Competitiveness Act to help spur economic development in the manufacturing sector. Even though the act has been in existence since 2013, just two governments in the state — Manatee County and the City of Bradenton — have taken advantage of it. Now Volusia County is the third.
To participate, local governments are required to adopt an ordinance establishing a plan targeting specific locations for development. That’s exactly what the Volusia County Council did, incorporating a manufacturing site plan program into the county’s land-development regulations.
Under the plan, a proposed business project that meets the eligibility requirements will be able to go through an expedited process for getting state review and approval. Once approved, the development order will be good for 10 years instead of the customary one year.
“This is the first step in many different efforts to try and improve our overall response to economic development,” said Clay Ervin, the county’s director of growth and resource management. “So what you see before you is an amendment to our ordinance that hopefully will put together a pilot program that will give us another tool in our toolbox as far as economic development.”
The airport property covered by the plan is located on both sides of Bellevue Avenue Extension. With the County Council making jobs creation a high priority, Volusia County’s Economic Development staff floated the idea for the manufacturing plan as a way to make the airport property more desirable to targeted industries such as aviation and aerospace, clean technology, life sciences, info-tech, homeland security and defense, financial and professional services, and emerging technologies.
The hope is that expediting the state permitting process will appeal to manufacturers that may feel dissuaded from opening or expanding a business because of government red tape.