Duke Energy Florida selects locations for 2016 Site Readiness Program

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  • Five properties to participate in company's economic development initiative

  • In 2015, Duke Energy helped recruit more than $285 million in capital investments and more than 1,870 new jobs to Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Duke Energy has selected five Florida properties for participation in this year's Site Readiness Program to prepare them for business and industrial development.

The company's award-winning endeavor identifies high-quality industrial sites in its service areas then collaborates with county leaders and local economic development professionals to develop a strategy for providing water, sewer, natural gas and electricity to the parcels and help diversify Florida's economy.

The locations include:

  • The BKV Technology Center is located at the Brooksville Tampa Bay Airport and is owned by Hernando County. It features two active air traffic-controlled runways (7,000 and 5,000 feet) and a CSX branch line connecting the 2,400-acre technology center. The Site Readiness Program evaluated a 285-acre parcel adjacent to existing commercial and industrial tenants with the ability to accommodate buildings of nearly 800,000 square feet.

"The Duke Energy Site Readiness Program has provided Hernando County the opportunity to highlight and pre-qualify a large parcel at the BKV Technology Center, ensuring we are poised to act quickly upon any inquiries for future development. We truly appreciate this partnership and their commitment to economic development," said Len Sossoman, Hernando County administrator and director of Hernando County Office of Business Development.

  • The Sunny Oaks Technology Campus in Marion County is a 456-acre business park zoned for light industrial users. It is located on the southeast corner of Highway 318 and I-75, with approximately 1.5 miles of I-75 frontage. It is centrally located between Ocala and Gainesville and is approximately 15 minutes from the University of Florida.

"The Duke Energy Site Readiness Program helped our community identify and further advance the development of the 456-acre Sunny Oaks site," said Brett Barnes, director of business attraction for the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership. "We now have extensive feedback from an internationally recognized site selection firm in McCallum Sweeney (MSC). With the knowledge gained, we are in a better position to continue to develop the site for future growth. We greatly appreciate this incredible opportunity Duke Energy presented to us. It was a pleasure working with them and the MSC team."

  • Central Florida Business Park in Osceola County is a 217-acre site strategically located just south of U.S. Highway 17-92 on Ham Brown Road and is equidistant from the Port of Tampa and Port Canaveral. The property is zoned for industrial use and is located just 10 miles from the new $200 million Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, which is the first industry-led smart-sensor research facility in the nation.

"Participating in Duke Energy's Site Readiness Program was a tremendous asset for us," said Bill Martin, executive director of the Greater Osceola Partnership for Economic Prosperity. "Duke's program is crucial to the development of 'shovel ready' sites to help us meet our goal of balanced growth, and having solid information on available sites is the best way to stay in the competition for new business and industry."

  • The Airco Aviation Business Center is located in Pinellas County, adjacent to the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport with more than 130 acres of property designated for aviation and light manufacturing uses. The site is strategically located less than two miles off of I-275 and is in the heart of the Tampa Bay region.

"This is a remarkable opportunity in Pinellas County for an expanding business seeking direct airside access to a growing airport and major roadways," said Mike Meidel, director of Pinellas County Economic Development. "With further analysis and the information gained through the Site Readiness Program, we will be able to better highlight the advantages of this location. This primary Gateway/Mid-County employment center is home to over 2,800 businesses, including Raymond James, Lockheed Martin, Jabil and Home Shopping Network. It is served by a regional workforce of nearly 2 million professionals."

  • The Smyder Property includes 94 acres in the City of Alachua within the Alachua County/Greater Gainesville region. The property is strategically located in close proximity to several key regional assets, including the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, which has been ranked among the nation's top three biotechnology incubators by University Business Incubators Global since 2013. Also nearby are Progress Park, a biotech park with more than 30 companies; a logistics hub for major distribution centers; the University of Florida, a preeminent state university; and Santa Fe College, the nation's No. 1 community college as ranked by the Aspen Institute. Additionally, the Smyder Property is ideally located near several key transportation corridors including U.S. Highway 441 and I-75, as well as the Gainesville Regional Airport.

"We're excited about the opportunity to work with Duke Energy through its Site Readiness initiative to increase competitiveness in Florida and the Greater Gainesville region," said Susan Davenport, president/CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. "We look forward to continued efforts to advance the chamber's mission to facilitate economic prosperity, business growth and community progress."

After each evaluation is completed, a site flier highlighting the property attributes is generated and shared with Duke Energy's business development team who help strategically market the sites nationwide to companies looking to expand or relocate their operations.

Coreslab Structures is an example of a Site Readiness economic development win for the state. The company's announcement in late 2015 included a $10 million investment and 55 new jobs. The city of Leesburg and Lake County made the development of the 470-acre park a top priority, and through their partnership with Duke Energy, the community was able to systematically prepare the site for the competitive consideration of expanding businesses. This site was the first in Florida to be evaluated through the Duke Energy Site Readiness Program.

"If you have ever wondered why a power provider might focus on site development, the answer becomes evident in the benefits this approach brings," said Marc Hoenstine, Duke Energy Florida's director of economic development. "Two of the top factors determining a community's success in attracting new business are having the right talent or labor force and having a site or building that meets a company's needs.

"Our CareerSource and educational partners are meeting the talent needs. Duke Energy is addressing the need for ready industrial sites in Florida. In the end, our efforts result in new jobs, new capital investment and a diversified industry base in the communities we serve," he said.

Duke Energy works with McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a nationally-known consulting firm in Greenville, S.C., to conduct site evaluations. McCallum Sweeney has been instrumental in locating many high-profile headquarters and industrial relocations and expansions throughout Florida and the U.S. In addition, Heidt Design, a Tampa, Fla.-based engineering firm, conducts buildable area studies and generates conceptual drawings to support each site evaluation.

Duke Energy's economic development efforts are perennially recognized by Site Selection magazine in the publication's annual list of "Top Utilities in Economic Development."

In 2015, Duke Energy helped to recruit more than $285 million in capital investment and more than 1,870 jobs to Florida. By the end of 2016, the Duke economic development team will have evaluated 12 properties throughout its Florida service territory representing three years' worth of site evaluations since the Florida program began in 2013.

So what's the secret to a winning record when it comes to growing the economy?

"Economic development is a team sport," said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy Florida state president. "We partner with our local economic development organizations, real estate and development community, counties and cities and the many other groups and companies influencing the economic development process. We are focused on supporting the cultivation and attraction of high-level, high-wage jobs and capital investment in the areas we serve, and our smart grid will provide clean and reliable energy service to help those companies continue to grow in our state."

For more information about Duke Energy's economic development programs, visit www.duke-energy.com/economic

Duke Energy Florida
Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,100 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

With its Florida regional headquarters located in St. Petersburg, Fla., Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.4 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 24 million people. Its Commercial Portfolio and International business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 125 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com

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