Business and community leaders on Friday will discuss the creation of a new “sweet spot” for Citrus County.
That's the name of an ambitious new development proposal from former county commissioner Dennis Damato, who will speak at length about it at Friday's Citrus Business Alliance (CBA) meeting.
Specifically, Damato is proposing development of a Citrus County Area of Economic Opportunity in what he calls the “sweet spot” of the county - around the Suncoast Parkway’s State Road 44 interchange. The site would be shovel-ready for development and provide a blueprint for future growth.
“Citrus County needs to get ready and ahead of the completion and future impacts of the Suncoast Parkway by planning and properly managing its effects before the growth arrives,” Damato said.
Specifically, the sweet spot starts at the western end of the Interchange Management Area (IMA) adopted within the Citrus County Comprehensive Land Use Plan on State Road 44.
It runs east along S.R. 44 through the intersections of the Suncoast Parkway and County Road 490 to the S.R. 44/County Road 491 signalized intersection.
It then runs north from the intersection of C.R. 491/Grover Cleveland Boulevard through the S.R. 44/ C.R. 491 junction terminating at the C.R. 491 /County Road 486 signalized intersection.
Damato, who broached the idea during this year’s Fire Up Citrus!, said during a recent Chronicle Editorial Board meeting that the parkway will go through the heart of the county and now is the time to plan for jobs that can spring up along the route.
Josh Wooten said the county commission must be made to see the urgency of preparing now for the parkway and how to maximize plans to bring them to fruition.
CBA Chairman Jim Green said Friday's agenda is packed with items that directly affect the economics of the county.
“Our purpose is to be a support group for those people who are on the front lines of economic development,” Green said.
That includes County Economic Development Director Bruce Register and representatives from city and county government. The meetings are open to stakeholders only.
Damato’s plan, he said, is especially in the CBA’s wheelhouse.
“I think it’s the focus point of what the CBA is all about,” Green said.