State sends $9 million to Winter Haven for road improvements

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says 1,250 jobs will be created

DeSantis' approval drops as COVID deaths rise in Florida
DeSantis' approval drops as COVID deaths rise in Florida

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that more than $9 million will go to improving access to the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center in Winter Haven.

“By making these road improvements, it’s really going to provide important linkages. We’re going to be improving access to more than 1,200 acres of industrial area that will attract new businesses and generate new jobs for the community,” DeSantis said during an appearance at Winter Haven City Hall.

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The center has long been envisioned as a key distribution point in the middle of the state.

The state Department of Transportation is putting up $3 million for the improvements, and another $6.4 million is coming from the state’s Job Growth Grant Fund, which DeSantis has discretion to allocate for infrastructure and workforce projects.

DeSantis estimated the work will directly create 1,250 jobs.

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced plans to bring about 170 jobs to the site by moving its operations from a facility in Lakeland to a 400,000-square-foot warehouse at the center.

“When the ILC was built years ago, the vision was that it would create thousands of jobs. And one of the things that I think that prohibited that was the road that we’re talking about having better access,” Winter Haven City Commissioner Nathaniel Birdsong said. “So, now that we are going to be able to plan that road and also have high-speed internet capability going there. Governor, you have made a dream come true for the city of Winter Haven.”

The city is expected to extend fiber-optic infrastructure to provide high-speed internet access for tenants of the center, DeSantis said.

For the current fiscal year, legislators put $50 million into the Job Growth Grant Fund, which was created in 2017 after a battle between lawmakers and then-Gov. Rick Scott about business incentives.