FELLSMERE — For the last several months, Fellsmere city leaders and the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce have been plotting out a road map for economic development that is expected to help the city attract new businesses.
Of the many types of business that could be brought into the area, green ventures and even industrial types are among the top the city hopes to attract.
“They have a lot to work with,” said Beth Mitchell, the executive director for the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, of the amount of space the city has that could appeal to new businesses.Fellsmere City Manager Jason Nunemaker said that the city is looking into areas that it could set aside for industrial growth, noting that the city is unique for the amount of vacant land it has and its access to Interstate 95.
“One of the things we’ve got to do is distinguish ourselves,” Nunemaker said, adding that Fellsmere needs to establish its own goals – not chase the same ones the City of Sebastian or Indian River County might have.
While Sebastian has its own airport, Fellsmere has an extension of the historic scenic highway and a “wealth of eco-tourism opportunities” to offer, according to the city manager.
Nunemaker said that the city hopes to tap into those opportunities, which include hunting, fishing, rowing, bird watching and other related activities.
“There’s a whole lot that we have here,” he said.
Along with targeting specific types of businesses, the economic development plan would also help the city define specific goals and set out incentives it could offer to those new businesses to entice them to move to the city.
“Hopefully, it will put the word out” that Fellsmere is seeking new businesses, Nunemaker said.
Mitchell is working on a draft report to present to the task members who are working on creating the plan. She said she hopes to have a final report to present to the Fellsmere City Council sometime in November.
Once that is done, the city will send it to the Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee to be incorporated into the city’s comprehensive plan.
Mitchell said that the state has adopted a new law that helps to fast track government review for those municipalities that have an economic development element within its comprehensive plan.
She added that the economic plan would do more than simply help Fellsmere attract new businesses. It would also help establish a structured process for review that would include a point of contact for that business.
Nunemaker agreed, adding that the plan would clarify the roles and responsibilities for the various parties involved.