Through its Site Readiness program, Duke Energy is working to spur growth in the southeast region of Polk County.

Having prepared the Frostproof Business Park, owned by Ben Hill Griffin Inc., for sale, Duke, along with the Central Florida Development Council, the city of Frostproof, Florida Midland Rail and the landowner will begin marketing it as a rail-served industrial park — a rare find, said Marc Hoenstine, Duke’s director of Economic Development in Florida.

Global Location Strategies, the site consulting company, thinks several industries would be a good fit for the site, such as food manufacturing, transportation equipment, logistics and construction products manufacturing, Hoenstine said.

Emery Smith, vice president of Citrus Marketing & Industry Relations at Ben Hill Griffin Inc., said the company would like to see “clean” industries, such as distribution, warehousing and light industrial uses. “Our company is interested in helping facilitate thoughtful development for the city of Frostproof. There needs to be good jobs in order to support our local community.”

The 225-acre Frostproof Business Park consists of two buildable sites — one 115 acres, the other 90 acres. It is located along State Road 17 just 3 miles east of U.S. 27 near Nucor Steel Florida’s new micro mill.

“Nucor will certainly be a draw for suppliers that could easily locate at the Frostproof Business Park and serve the needs of Nucor, not to mention the 1.2 million person consumer market within 50 miles of the site,” Hoenstine said. The area also has a labor force of more than 277,000 within 45 minutes, he said.

Smith said his company thinks Nucor “will help attract more supporting businesses over time. Time will tell whether those companies will locate closer to Nucor or in the surrounding areas.”

How the Program Works

The Site Readiness program was designed to help the communities Duke serves to compete for new business — jobs and investment — by identifying, assessing, improving and increasing the awareness of sites in six states, including Florida. It determines the infrastructure, natural gas, water, sewer, electric — everything a company needs — in place so a company can begin to build almost immediately.

“We evaluate each property with utilities in mind to ensure the company that chooses a Duke Energy Site Readiness location has a reasonable timeline to get electric service with minimal (if any) cost,” he said. “In that regard, we do prepare each site for large power users, but in the end, we want to attract an employer who will most benefit the community.”

The program shows landowners and the community the potential for each site, Hoenstine said. The vision for the Frostproof site includes a conceptual plan created by Ardurra, Duke’s design firm partner, that shows the potential for 3.2 million square feet of industrial development.

It also gives Duke a chance “to showcase the site, Frostproof and Polk County to Global Location Strategies, a premier site selection firm that works with the types of companies we would love to attract to the Frostproof Business Park,” he said. “The more they know about this site and the community, the better the chance of us attracting one of their clients to Frostproof.”

Smith said Duke Energy’s program offers landowners a great opportunity to work with them to prepare sites that could be “mutually beneficial.”

“And then with the help of CFDC it really becomes a team effort in order to create a well thought out project,” he said. “Hopefully, this site and others like it can provide thoughtful growth with good jobs to promote the fact that Polk County is a great place to work and live.”

“The CFDC has had the pleasure of partnering with Duke Energy’s economic development team on several Polk County sites identified as prime candidates for their Site Readiness program,” said VP of Business Development Jennifer Taylor.  “The city of Frostproof and the Polk County Board of County Commissioners are well-known for their business-friendly attitude and the ability to do what needs to be done to attract industry to the area.  Ad Valorem Tax Exemption and Impact Fee Mitigation are incentives that are offered to new and expanding businesses in Frostproof and Polk County.  A heartfelt thank you to Duke Energy for creating this program that places our community and the state of Florida in the most strategic and competitive position for economic prosperity and high-wage job growth.”