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Bernie Little Distributors, serving Highlands County since 1972, is the wholesaler for Anheuser Busch and other specialized local and national craft beers that distributes to Polk, Hardee, Highlands, and Okeechobee Counties. The company opened their original Sebring distribution center in 1985. Taking advantage of having NO Impact Fees in Highlands County, they have an expansion project entailing the new construction of a more than 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art distribution facility including a 63,000-square-foot air-conditioned warehouse and a 9,600-square-foot community event center. The expansion is a result of the local distributor needing to nearly triple their footprint after having outgrown their current Sebring facility. The expansion also ensures the retention of the company’s existing local workforce.
“This groundbreaking ceremony is an exciting day for Highlands County,” said Meghan DiGiacomo, Executive Manager of Business and Economic Development. “We’re thrilled our office was able to assist in the retention and expansion of one of our community’s long-standing companies within one of our targeted industries, logistics and distribution. Bernie Little Distributors’ new facility will be an addition to the local tax base and their current facility will be available to market for other new or expanding businesses in Highlands County in the future.”
Knowing they needed a larger facility to keep up with years of steadily increasing demand, Bernie Little Distributors first contacted Highlands County Economic Development for assistance with site identification in December 2018. The company closed on the land in late 2020, which came after collaborative meetings with county and community leaders, and the approval of rezoning the back portion of the 40-acre parcel to commercial for site consistency.
“This expansion is a much-needed step in Bernie Little Distributors’ trajectory,” said Joseph Little, with Bernie Little Distributors. “I want to say thank you to all of our partners, customers, team members and community, for helping make this a reality.”
Florida has one of the most extensive multi-modal infrastructures in the world, and Highlands County is strategically located in the center of it all. The county is located within a 2-hour radius of eight deep water ports, 10 international/commercial airports, three major interstates, and the Florida Turnpike.
Highlands County’s inland location provides ample room for growth and miles of uncongested routes outside of Florida’s metro areas. U.S. Highway 27 connects directly with Interstate 4 to the north and the South Florida markets to the south. U.S. Highway 98 and State roads 64, 66 and 70 link East/West to Florida’s Turnpike and interstates I- 95 and I-75.
Highlands has Class 1 CSX rail as well as short line rail with South Central Florida Express. The county is also in close proximity to the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center in Winter Haven, FL.
This ideal location makes the area primed to quickly receive, produce, and distribute goods and services regionally and globally. More than 86 percent of Florida’s population is located within a two-hour radius of Highlands County, providing quick access to more than 18 million people, as well as an abundance of suppliers and consumers.