Manatee County looks to establish local manufacturing development program

Manatee County, Florida, where the largest city is Bradenton, is looking to make the road to establishing a manufacturing industry in Florida much easier. It may be the first county in the state to pass a local manufacturing development program. 

The program would change the process that manufacturers have to go through to obtain approval for their locations, according to the Bradenton Herald. The local planning commission recommended approval of the new program at a recent meeting that would allow manufacturers to get master plan approval for certain manufacturing sites in pre-designated areas. This would keep manufacturers from having to go back for local approval for future modifications, unless their plans include building code, life or safety issues. 

The program was proposed in response to the Manufacturing Competitiveness Act the Florida Legislature passed in 2013, which looks to "attract, establish and maintain manufacturing enterprises in furtherance of creating a competitive economic environment, resulting in increased employment opportunities and the general economic betterment of the county," according to the Herald.

Building and Development Services Department Director John Barnott presented the program to the planning commission. The next step will be for the program to be presented before the county commission on June 4 and again on June 16 for possible adoption.

"We will hopefully be the first county that supports that legislation," said Barnott to the Herald. "We are the model that the rest of the state is going to follow. We think this is a good thing… They don't have to go through this process over and over."

Putting Florida on the manufacturing map
Florida is currently ranked in the bottom five of U.S. states when it comes to how much of its gross state product comes from the manufacturing industry, according to the Herald. 

"I believe it will be the jumpstart for significant economic development and manufacturing in Manatee County," said Alan Prather of Tropicana at the planning commission meeting. "It should help the state of Florida. Manufacturing is very important. It sustains an economy and sustains labor and people who live in your community."

The plan is that this convenient means of obtaining manufacturing approval could attract more manufacturers to look into building locations in Manatee County and boost the overall economy. If all goes well, this could be a trend that spreads throughout the state.