Business Florida 2022 - The Regions
Alachua • Bradford • Columbia • Dixie • Gilchrist • Hamilton • Lafayette • Levy • Madison • Marion • Suwannee • Taylor • Union
Logistics and Distribution
Companies looking to grow their logistics and distribution capabilities will find much to like about North Central Florida. I-75 bisects the region on its way north from Miami to Atlanta, and Gainesville is the halfway point. Another hour to the north, at Lake City, is I-10, providing ready access east to Jacksonville and west through Pensacola and on to New Orleans. Also in reasonably close proximity: JaxPort (80 miles to the northeast) and Port Tampa Bay (130 miles to the south).
FedEx was among the first to take advantage of this region’s ready accessibility by opening a distribution center at Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park just off I-75 in 2016, followed by a 10,000-sq.-ft. delivery center two years later. Then along came AutoZone with a 400,000-sq.-ft. distribution facility to serve 290+ retail stores throughout Florida and Puerto Rico, followed by online pet products retailer Chewy.com with a 600,000-sq.-ft. distribution center. Subsequently, North Carolina-based Red Rock Developments built the 617,000-sq.-ft. Florida Crossroads Logistics Center in Ocala where e-commerce giant Amazon was quick to settle in. And in Gainesville, Amazon operates a delivery station with 50 employees and there’s a new 42,000-sq.-ft. FedEx distribution facility at the Airport Industrial Park north of Gainesville Regional Airport.
Fast forward to 2021: Red Rock has announced plans to build a second and even bigger distribution center next door — the 1,085,280-sq.-ft. Florida Crossroads Logistics Phase II — with an estimated completion date of mid-2021.
KEY PLAYERS: Amazon, Seattle, Wa.; Chewy.com, Dania Beach; Dollar Tree, Charlotte, N.C.; FedEx Ground, Coraopolis, Pa.
Goods manufactured in Florida’s North Central region include everything from medical equipment and supplies, industrial chemicals, and HVAC air control devices to fire trucks, decorative fences and stackable potato chips. And according to a recent survey to assess the state of manufacturing in Florida, Ocala’s manufacturing industry registered the fastest rate of growth among all metro areas in Florida.
Among recent developments in this sector:
• Lockheed Martin’s Ocala Operations facility is the recipient of a $49-million contract from the U.S. Navy for the production of components used in its F/A-18 infrared search and tracking system. Lockheed Martin’s Ocala Operations facility is a 393,000-sq.-ft. system assembly and high-rate production site for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC).
• The Georgia-Pacific Foley Cellulose Mill near Perry has returned to full operation and rehired some 70 positions, after idling two of three production lines and cutting its workforce by 30% during the pandemic. GP Foley is Taylor County’s largest private employer.
• Signature Brands, the maker of Easter egg coloring kits, cake decorations and popcorn-filled gift tins, continues to grow its presence in Marion County with plans to build a 200,000-sq.-ft. warehouse on 16 acres near Ocala International Airport.
• Ocala-based fire apparatus manufacturer E-ONE has expanded its reach into Tennessee as its former dealer, Mid-South Emergency Equipment, is acquired by Safe Industries, which serves the fire service and industrial markets in the Carolinas and Tennessee. E-ONE is a leading manufacturer of emergency vehicles, rescue trucks and custom fire apparatus.
KEY PLAYERS: E-ONE, Ocala; Georgia Pacific Foley, Perry; Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, Md.; R & J Manufacturing, Gainesville; Signature Brands, Ocala; Stahl-Meyer Foods, Madison