Florida Caribbean Distillers, a local manufacturing and distilling company, has plans for a three-phase project that could yield approximately 800,000 square feet of advanced manufacturing, and a potential creation of more than 500 new jobs. To facilitate the project, on December 4, 2019, the Winter Haven City Commission approved the sale of surplus city-owned property to the company, which currently has facilities in Winter Haven, Lake Alfred, Auburndale, and Puerto Rico.
Mike Herr, Winter Haven City Manager, was pleased that the City Commission approved the sale. “Winter Haven City Commissioners continue to make jobs and economic development a priority,” Herr said. “In addition to bringing revenue to the city, this project will also bring high-paying jobs to our area.” Mayor Brad Dantzler echoed those sentiments, stating, “The opportunity to have this new facility, and the jobs it will bring, fits with the overall initiative of the Commission to bring higher paying jobs in high tech industries to our community.”
United States Representative Darren Soto (FL-09) also supports bringing higher paying jobs to our area and stands ready to support companies wanting to do that. “I am pleased to see the continuing development of jobs in Winter Haven,” Representative Soto said. “As one of my biggest priorities, the creation of new job opportunities is a necessity in order to improve quality of life. This project will not only ensure economic growth with higher paying jobs, but it will also lead in attracting new business opportunities in the City of Winter Haven. It is imperative that we continue to push for higher quality jobs and to invest in the constituents of Polk County.”
The project will operate under the name Florida Can Manufacturing on the property located near Winter Haven’s CSX Intermodal Terminal.
The project’s first phase will be construction of a 300,000 square foot advanced manufacturing facility that will be used for aluminum can production. Because of changing consumer preferences and recycling strategies, aluminum cans have become the preferred packaging in the beverage industry. To help meet this need, the new state-of-the-art aluminum can manufacturing operation will start with a capacity of 1.6 billion cans and 2.4 billion ends annually. Check out this video to get an idea of this type of facility.
Initial economic impact of this project is anticipated to exceed $120 million in 2020-21, and will include land purchase revenue, construction jobs, and equipment installations. Phase One will bring approximately 160 new full-time jobs; at least 110 of those will pay above 115% of Polk County’s average annual wage. In addition to those jobs, construction activities are anticipated to create over 275 new jobs.
Earlier in 2019, City staff and Winter Haven Economic Development Council (WHEDC) President Bruce Lyon met with company representatives to discuss this opportunity. “Because of the unique attributes of CSX and other transportation corridors in this area, City goals are strategically aligned for projects of this type,” Lyon said. “Once again, City of Winter Haven Commissioners and leadership have exhibited the vision to approve plans and projects for our community that will bring quality jobs and economic impact.”
The company anticipates breaking ground on the new facility in 2020, with completion expected in 2021.
The Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce’s blog has a post on the project as well.