AVON PARK — The City of Avon Park, with the help of the Highlands County Economic Development office and the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, has been awarded a grant of $971,500 to fund water and wastewater infrastructure improvements to serve businesses in north Avon Park.

The extension of Avon Park’s utilities will serve Nucor’s steel rebar mill, slated to be in operation in July 2020, directly on the northern side of the Highlands County line near Frostproof. The company said the mill will provide 250 new high-paying jobs.

Nucor will be accessing its facility through Highlands County and it is expected that a number of new hires will be Highlands County residents.

The grant funds were awarded from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. The project will include the extension of a 12-inch water distribution line for approximately 2.25 miles and an 8-inch sewer force main for approximately 2 miles along U.S. 27 in north Avon Park up to the county line, according to a press release from Highlands County Economic Development.

“The City of Avon Park is honored to be named a recipient of the Governor’s Florida Job Growth Grant Fund for the extension of water and wastewater lines in the northern part of Avon Park and Highlands County,” said Avon Park City Councilwoman Maria Sutherland. “This grant is an incredibly important resource for Florida’s inland communities, and we look forward to the positive impact the infrastructure improvements will provide for existing businesses and for the attraction of new industry — both of which will ultimately result in job creation and further economic development opportunities.

Along with numerous existing commercial businesses that run along the extension route, existing and incoming industry will also benefit from the infrastructure improvements.

Already located within this area is Sun Pure Holding, an international plastics recycling and manufacturing company that acquired an existing 90,000-plus square-foot facility and chose Avon Park as the location of its first U.S. production facility. These infrastructure improvements will enable the company to properly sprinkler the facility and become fully operational.

“This project will bring development opportunities that will ultimately result in job creation and economic diversification for our community,” said Commissioner Jim Brooks, Highlands County Board of County Commissioners Chairman. “This project will provide a proactive opportunity to promote expansion of current industry and attraction of new industry.

The area to be serviced by the infrastructure improvements is an area with high growth potential. There is additional vacant industrial land along US 27 and CSX rail. Having City of Avon Park water and wastewater at the properties makes them more competitive for future development opportunities.”

Commencement will start once the grant is accepted and the agreement has been negotiated. The project is slated to be completed this summer.

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