The background behind the FLZ
Gulf, Franklin, Liberty and Gadsden Counties have been working together to designate the Gulf to Gadsden Freight Logistics Zone (FLZ) in order to promote the planning and funding of infrastructure improvements, intermodal connectivity, and to facilitate freight activities and services within the region. The FLZ covers areas that have the potential to play a significant role in the generation of freight related activity and promote economic development competitiveness.
As part of the process to designate the Gulf to Gadsden FLZ, a Strategic Sites Inventory (SSI) project was conducted by Leotta Location and Design, (LL+D) in each of the four counties. The goal of the SSI project was to identify potential high quality industrial and commercial sites situated along or near key transportation assets in the area in order to market these sites for development of manufacturing and distribution projects that rely on multimodal transportation means for receiving process inputs and delivery of products to market.
Strategic Sites Inventory (SSI)
The SSI search was tailored to meet the specific needs of each county based on its location, natural resources, transportation assets, and economic interests:
- The SSI Phase I search for Gulf County was an expansion of a previous Duke Energy-funded SSI Phase I site search that was focused on identifying large contiguous tracts for heavy industrial project development. The target acreage for potential industrial sites was reduced from 200 acres from the initial study down to 25 acres. The goal was to identify any additional potential strategic sites for economic development beyond initial SSI PhaseI site searches. Site searches were geographically constrained within a two-mile buffer along state and federal highway corridors and the Apalachicola Northern Railroad and within a three-mile radius of the Port of Port St. Joe. Specific site search consideration was given to areas around the Port of Port St. Joe.
- The SSI Phase I search for Liberty County was conducted to identify potential strategic sites with particular attributes suitable for wood product manufacturing for both construction materials and utilization of wood waste byproduct repurposing. Site searches were geographically constrained within a two-mile buffer along SR 65 for direct connectivity to Interstate 10, the Apalachicola Northern Railroad and direct connectivity to both the Port of Port St. Joe and the Port of Panama City in neighboring Gulf and Bay Counties, respectively.
- The SSI Phase I search for Franklin County was also conducted to identify potential strategic sites with particular attributes suitable for wood product manufacturing for both construction materials and utilization of wood waste byproduct repurposing. Additionally, sites suitable for light manufacturing and aviation related light industrial and commercial operations were considered. Site searches were geographically constrained within a two-mile buffer along state and federal highway corridors and the Apalachicola Northern Railroad. Specific site search attention was given to areas around the Apalachicola Regional Airport. The capacity of the airport to accommodate cargo and rail access immediately to the north positions the airport as a strategic intermodal transportation asset.
- The SSI efforts in Gadsden County focused on landowner engagement for a site previously identified through a Duke Energy sponsored SSI Phase I project and a Phase II study recently conducted by LL+D. The objective was to provide incentives for the landowner to enter into an agreement with the Gadsden County Development Council to enable the site to be marketed for economic development.
Gulf to Gadsden Freight Logistics Zone Strategic Plan
The FLZ Strategic Plan has been designed to meet the requirements listed in Section 311.103 (2), Florida Statutes, and serves as a framework to guide funding for freight infrastructure and freight projects identified in state, regional and local plans. It also serves stakeholders including local governments, economic development organizations, and private and nonprofit groups working to create economic opportunities in the region. The Strategic Plan is intended to be maintained and updated periodically to reflect the needs of the local and regional freight-dependent economy with a continuing awareness of changing global trade policies and needs.
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