NORTH PORT – Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered nearly $1.7 million to North Port on Friday, boosting the city’s plans for bringing jobs and commercial projects at the Toledo Blade Boulevard-Interstate 75 interchange.

The nearly $1.7 million check from a state job growth fund matches cash that North Port will inject into water and sewer infrastructure for that busy interchange.

More than 500 acres in that area are defined as Activity Center 4, or the Panacea District, one of nine mini-downtowns that North Port plans for boosting commercial growth and jobs.

The check, presented to North Port city commissioners in an afternoon ceremony at City Hall, will “provide opportunities for (people) to work in North Port,” the governor said, who was flanked by officials that included Florida’s Secretary of Commerce Jamal Sowell and Dane Eagle, secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “All high-demand stuff.”

That North Port was in the running for such grant funding percolated for weeks with paperwork moving back and forth between city hall and Tallahassee, Mayor Jill Luke said.

Still, when word arrived that North port would receive nearly $2 million for infrastructure, “we were super excited,” Luke said. “This is going to kick start that end of town.”

As North Port zooms toward 100,000 residents, its economics had lagged.

The city relies on its residential tax base to carry its nearly $200 million in annual spending. It is estimated that seven of 10 workers leave town for work.

This boost on Friday, however, could begin a reversal in morning traffic. Fully developed, that area inside Activity Center 4 at Toledo Blade and I-75 could someday exceed $1 billion in asset value, authorities insisted Friday.

That included a commitment by Chet Staron, president of Topline Machine & Tool, an aftermarket automotive supplier with Midwest roots.

“There’s a lot going on in North Port,” Staron said, sharing that sudden news with the governor. “We’re going to come here.”


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