by ROCCO MAGLIO
On Thursday, May 16, 2019, Hernando Progress hosted the 12th Hernando County Community Summit in cooperation with the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce, SHRM, and the Hernando County Office of Economic Development. The summit lasted from 8am to 2pm.
The summit was focused on the Healthcare and Manufacturing sectors in Hernando County.
The speakers at the event were a number of government officials, Non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders, and business professionals including County Administrator Jeff Rogers, Ronald Pianta Planning and Zoning Director, Valerie Pianta Manager Economic Development, Carolyn Gosselin Senior Vice President of Development for the Florida Chamber, Adrienne Johnston Chief of the Bureau of Workforce Statistics and Economic Research, Florida Senator Wilton Simpson, Tina Berger Director of Manufacturing Talent Development FloridaMakes, J.J. Jarrell Corporate Director of Human Resources Cone Distributing and Stuart Rogel President Graylan Ventures. The speakers covered different aspects that affected the Hernando economy.
County Administrator Rogers mentioned some tourism highlights: festivals, destination wedding venue, and capital funding for a possible future tourist attraction. The county administration is working on the Parks Master Plan, starting with Anderson Snow Park. He mentions that the demographics of Hernando are changing with the population becoming younger. The county administration is looking at putting in place business friendly policies, that protect local businesses and prevent out of town businesses from coming in for short periods to compete with local businesses. The county administration is looking at permitting efficiencies possibly utilizing remote inspections. He hopes to try stay out of the headlines and make better headlines.
Ronald Pianta Planning and Zoning Director spoke next, he spoke about the Hernando County Comprehensive Plan which is required by the state. The Comprehensive Plan has to be flexible. The Comprehensive Plan is not intended to be regulatory in nature, it is a guiding document. However, the Future Land use map (FLUM) a part of the comprehensive plan is regulatory in nature. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan was started in 2010 and finished in 2018. This plan will will take Hernando County through the population milestone of 200,000 residents. The 200,000 mark is important, as it changes some of the regulations governing Hernando County. Currently Hernando County has around 185,000 residents, but there are thousands of residential units in the planning stages.
Valerie Pianta Manager of Economic Development spoke about how one of their goals is to target businesses outside the community to bring money into the community. To further this goal they are partnered with “Team Tampa Bay,” a group of Tampa Bay area economic development agencies intent on bringing businesses to the Tampa Bay area. The Economic Development department is focused on recruitment, retention and expansion of local businesses. An asset that helps bring new businesses to the area is the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. The airport has $100 million in taxable value and 2.4 million square feet of space. Major concerns of businesses looking to move to the area is education and workforce. The Economic Development department is working with partners including Suntech, T-volt, and PHSC to help develop needed skills in the workforce to make the area more attractive to potential employers.
Carolyn Gosselin Senior Vice President of Development for the Florida Chamber spoke about the work of the Florida Chamber. The Florida Chamber has three branches: Foundation (Research), Lobbying and the Leadership (Political Team). The Florida Chamber develops a report card for the state and individual counties it is available at https://thefloridascorecard.org. Florida is the 17th largest economy in the world with a population of 21.5 million residents. More than 900 people a day move to Florida. In addition to people moving to Florida in 2018 Florida had more than 126.1 million visitors. Florida is also responsible for 1 out of every 13 jobs created in the United States. The State of Florida legislature is largely new to the job with the majority having been in their office for 2 years or less.
Florida State Senator Wilton Simpson spoke about legislative highlights. Due to increasing tax revenue the state has been able to build their reserves allowing them to respond to recent natural disasters without having to call a special session to provide funding. The state is moving forward with the septic to sewer conversion which is estimated to cost around 20 billion dollars with the expense beared locally. The legislature has changed the law so that insurance plans can bar you from assigning your benefits to a third party. It used to be that if your house was damaged you could have someone do the repairs and assign the benefit to them and they would collect from the insurance companies. The state legislature also passed a change making texting and driving a primary offense, meaning that you can be pulled over and ticketed from texting and driving. The law also includes a ban on using wireless devices in a construction or school zone. Just having your phone in your hand in these areas can lead to a ticket.
The community forum provided updates on changes that are happening at the local and state level. Future goals and directions were presented.