The Manufacturing Industry: Building Back Fast

Despite turbulence caused by labor and supply chain challenges, the manufacturing industry is experiencing a positive trajectory as it recovers from the pandemic.


Hernando County, Florida is ready for the business growth that seems headed that way, if recent inquiries from site selectors and developers are any indication. Whether for large-footprint advanced manufacturing facilities or growing aircraft services firms, this north Tampa Bay community has build-to-suit sites ready to meet the demand.

Valerie Pianta, Hernando County Economic Development Director stated that “Several large, high workforce firms have inquired about establishing a location here recently, drawn both by the Airport & Technology Center site readiness and value proposition and to the east side’s interstate development opportunities.”

manufacturing industry
A mechanic works on a jet engine at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, home to aircraft services businesses and soon to be the site of a training campus with aviation and advanced manufacturing programs. (Photo: Hernando County Economic Development)

An award-winning general aviation airport and more, the expansive 2,400-acre Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport (BKV) campus is home to over 150 businesses. In fact, the high ratio of non-aeronautical enterprises helps ensure airport sustainability. In addition to aviation and aerospace jobs, over 2,000 people work at a variety of firms from industrial to advanced manufacturing, distribution and technology.

The vibrant BKV business ecosystem is a magnet for attracting top workforce talent. A new technical training complex will ensure a permanent pipeline of trained employees. The planned educational and community focused campus is a joint project between the Hernando County School District, Pasco-Hernando State College and Hernando County Government. On 17 acres at BKV, the location sits adjacent to American Aviation’s busy Flight Academy. Degree and certification programs will include high-tech skills for in-demand occupations like advanced manufacturing, aviation and healthcare, opening in 2023.

The pace of capital improvements to Brooksville–Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Technology Center has surged in recent years; 17 projects have wrapped up, comprising a combined $23M investment, boosting its stock as an aviation and economic development powerhouse.

From airfield safety to corporate park infrastructure and aesthetics, improvements enhance the BKV experience for pilots, business tenants, visitors and the community.

“The value of a strong plan can’t be overstated,” said Pianta. “To maximize the potential of this public resource, we rely on long-term planning and preparation. From airfield safety to roadways and infrastructure, the airport is master planned and benefit-driven; BKV capital improvements advance long term sustainability and value.”

Next year brings the Runway 9-27 Rehabilitation Project which will transform the 7,000- by 150-foot runway from concrete to asphalt. Upon completion, BKV’s main runway will be poised for planned extension to 8,000 feet.

An abundance of land for development means that even businesses with large footprints enjoy room to grow at BKV. North of Tampa on Florida’s central Gulf coast, convenient to the Suncoast Parkway/Florida-589 and other major routes, an array of options means visionary businesses have land to expand.

For fencing manufacturer Barrette Outdoor Living, 15 acres at the BKV RailPark was the best choice to build a new 175,000 square foot plastic extrusion manufacturing facility. This marks the third major BKV expansion by this national business, complementing their 300,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution operation.

Valerie Pianta said, “We’re especially thrilled with recent and planned business expansions within BKV; with so much space, some businesses have grown their facilities to several hundred thousand square feet, boosting the local workforce exponentially.”

New sites are now ready for corporate and aviation development with roadway extensions. Two roads on the airport’s west side will extend to join in a T-intersection, bounding large land parcels with both street and airside access. Perfect for aviation businesses with large aircraft hangar storage and facility needs, the parcels can be sized and developed to suit.

Pianta pointed out that “As part of our westside infrastructure development plan that includes rehabilitation of 3000 feet of our inactive third runway and taxiways, this roadway project holds appeal for larger aircraft operators or servicers. Now, they’ll be able to choose among some premium airside development parcels.”

Hernando County’s east side marks the intersection of industrial accessibility, availability and affordability. On SR 50, Florida’s major east-west artery, just one mile from Interstate 75 and 40 miles from the Florida Turnpike, several hundred acres are ready for development

From this Hernando County location, nearly the whole state of Florida and southern Georgia are within a four-hour drive. These sites near the 1.5 million-square-foot Wal-Mart Distribution Center are prime for manufacturing or logistics.

Hernando County is committed to growing industry and the word is getting out among developers. Recent project proposals reflect evolving business trends such as manufacturing, air cargo, aircraft conversions and repair services as well as distribution. The robust highway network is key for shipping and receiving logistics.

Welcoming businesses to consider relocation or expansion, the county offers ample build-to-suit sites and a well-trained workforce. The Office of Economic Development team ensures expedited permitting and streamlines any other incentives available. Airport planning and investments in Brooksville – Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Tech Center are continual and yield current and future gains. And airport competitive land lease rates afford significant business development benefits as well. A 285-acre parcel that spans the airport’s west side has completed the Duke Energy Site Readiness Program and initial environmental assessment.

Consistently ranked the most affordable in the Tampa Bay region, Hernando County delivers high value for lifestyle, workforce and industry. Well-planned, well-regarded, and well-positioned, Hernando County, Florida is ready to meet the needs of expanding or relocating businesses.