August 4, 2020 – GLADES REGION – The power of partnerships was prominent on today’s “State of Palm Beach County’s Glades Region Development” webinar hosted by the Business Development Board and sponsored by Florida Crystals. Local business leaders are coming together, creating solutions for the future. This area offers many different opportunities with its legislation and resources which has drawn promising projects that create a positive outlook for the Glades’ future. Together, economic development offices, state and local government, chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, and municipalities have laid the groundwork over the past five years to bring positive impact for today and more importantly, the future.

Here’s what you need to know:

Kelly Smallridge, President and CEO, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County:

  • BDB markets the Glades Region as the crossroads for 12 million Floridians
  • A solid model has been created to recruit new business to the Glades Region
  • It is very attractive for manufacturing and distribution facilities
  • Currently, 380 jobs are in the pipeline for the area
  • 71 companies have been provided technical assistance year-to-date
  • 8 companies have received assistance related to COVID-19
  • The most recent announcement facilitated by the BDB was Eagle Security Services in Belle Glade
  • The BDB has a department dedicated to the Glades Region
  • Shereena Coleman, Vice President of Business Facilitation & The Glades Region focuses on the competitiveness of the region
  • Efforts that Ms. Coleman has played a big role in include the Glades Region Economic Forum, Glades Region Claim Your Future Showcase, ensuring the BDB has new marketing materials, and promoting available properties

Rep. Tina Polsky, District 81 Representative, Florida House of Representatives:

  • Worked with the BDB, Palm Beach County, Department of Economic Opportunity, and the Governor’s Office to find funds for environmental cleanup regarding de-mucking grants
  • She remains optimistic on how the group speaking today can accomplish this together over the next few years
  • The Department of Economic Opportunity plans to ramp up its rural economic development efforts on a larger scale, revising the responsibilities of different departments
  • Polsky said that she will use whatever power she has to share great ideas for legislation that would make a difference for the Glades Region

Robert Rease, Chair, Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic Alliance (LORE):

  • LORE is an organization that finds resources for the business community to make things happen
  • In 2013, LORE formed a partnership with the BDB, resulting in new business recruited to the Glades Region
  • LORE has expanded that partnership to now include more than 30 organizations to ensure the Glades Region has a collaborative environment to support economic development
  • Even during the pandemic, new businesses are still coming to the Glades Region
  • LORE has also been working with local small businesses through “Lunch and Learn” events

Sherry Howard, Deputy Director, PBC Department of Housing & Economic Sustainability:

  • Palm Beach County allocated $60 million of CARES Act Funding for small businesses
  • The portal closed on June 12 with more than 5,000 applications
  • 2,673 businesses received funding year-to-date
  • 88% of those businesses had 5 or less employees, really targeting the small businesses in PBC
  • The maximum grant amount awarded was $25,000
  • Palm Beach County allocated another $15 million that will be available after the applications from the first round are finished being reviewed
  • During the pandemic, new businesses are still being funded. Four have recently opened operations.
  • Strong interest has been in opportunity zones and the Glades Region
  • The Glades Region masterplan includes an array of initiatives such as road improvements and infrastructure

Charles Duval, Associate Vice President, CareerSource West Center

  • CareerSource West Center connects business with talent through veterans, youth / young adults, disability / special need, and reentry programs
  • Through a typical year, the Center puts over 100 young adults through career preparation
  • Assisted about 75,000 residents with finding employment
  • Awarded $1.6 million in grants to area businesses
  • Served more then 43,000 customers through the West Career Center
  • Three programs are in place to assist Employers who want to train their employees:
    • On-the-Job Training (OJT) – train specific set of skills at worksite or for new employees
    • Customized Training (CT) – additional training to upgrade skills and obtain national or industry certificate
    • Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) – State funding for companies growing

Municipal Updates

The City of Belle Glade, The City of South Bay, and The City of Pahokee concluded with municipal updates for the tri-city region. All three cities are excited for new projects on the horizon, infrastructure and affordable housing enhancements, and plan to continue being great partners to the community.