DeSoto County is committed to planning for the future economic growth within the community. Fostering economic growth and developing programs that help businesses and entire business sectors achieve success will in turn benefit the entire County. The DeSoto County 2030 Comprehensive Plan supports the County’s future economic and physical growth; providing protections for rural and agricultural commercial activities, and establishing a framework for growth within the County's business and industrial centers. It includes an extensive inventory and overview of the County’s economic, infrastructure and planning initiatives, and illustrates that partnerships with public and private sectors play a significant role. Through a multi-prong approach, leveraging of resources and collaboration with local, state and regional partners, DeSoto County is poised for future growth.
A number of ongoing infrastructure investments are underway in DeSoto County which positions the County for future economic and physical growth. The Florida Rural Broadband Alliance has received a grant, which is part of the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program, aimed at installing a broadband network providing access to the unserved and underserved areas of Florida's heartland. By locating the broadband communications system on existing towers and structures this public-private partnership is linking cost-effective broadband access to the local retail service providers, who in turn deliver high capacity services to the residents and businesses of DeSoto County.
Another ongoing infrastructure commitment by DeSoto County is expanding the delivery of water and wastewater facilities to designated commercial areas. Shovel-ready sites, such as the DeSoto Park of Commerce, which currently houses the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, have the ability to connect to the County's facilities. The County owned and operated utility franchise can accommodate new and expanded operations within the Central and South County areas.
Also critical to the success of DeSoto’s commercial enterprises are the rail and roadway network. Seminole Gulf Railway and CSX offer businesses rail access. Centrally located for operations in DeSoto, and neighboring Charlotte and Sarasota Counties, U.S. Highway 17 is currently being expanded to a four-lane facility. This thoroughfare offers easy access to east-west connectors and Interstate 75 is just fifteen minutes from South County.
Taxing and Economic Initiatives
DeSoto County is a designated Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern, and within the County there are three designated Enterprise Zones. Both of these designations afford businesses within the County a number of financial and taxing incentives. Florida's Heartland Regional Economic Development Initiative, Incorporated, a not-for-profit regional economic development organization, assists the County with fostering economic development. Working with local partners within the region and the state, the non-profit organization provides economic development coordination to businesses interested in expanding or relocating to the County. In addition, Heartland Workforce Investment Consortium is another agency which provides support to DeSoto businesses and residents by offering job training and recruitment services.
The 2030 DeSoto County Comprehensive Plan
The County's recently adopted comprehensive plan provides an updated account and assessment of the conditions within the County and establishes a capital improvements planning element to support the County's future growth. The Enterprise Zone areas are considered an economic overlay district on the County's Future Land Use map. Areas within and proximate to the Enterprise Zones are designated as Urban Center-Mixed Use, intended to enhance the economic vitality of the core areas; to allow for redevelopment and encourage denser infill development; as well as permitting a diversity of compatible land uses and multi-purpose buildings. Through bonus criteria established in the County's Land Development regulations, an increase in density and in intensity increase is permitted in the Urban Center Mixed Use district. The Capital Improvements and Infrastructure Elements are coordinated with the improvements underway by the State Department of Transportation and the County’s Utility Department. Thus, the 2030 Comprehensive Plan provides direction for economic and physical growth while ensuring the protection of the rural community and important natural resources of the County.