THE ISSUE: An economic sweet spot.
OUR OPINION: County needs leadership to move forward.
It takes a plan to make something good happen.
Without a plan, good things can happen. But that’s called luck. And many times luck comes in two flavors — good and bad.
Instead of sitting back and waiting for bad economic things to happen, Citrus County needs to develop a plan to improve the opportunity for progress.
As former county commissioner Dennis Damato pointed out in a Chronicle guest column last Sunday, Citrus County is being delivered a grand economic opportunity in for the form of the Suncoast Parkway.
The parkway expansion project is now underway in south Citrus County and will soon connect to State Road 44 in Lecanto. Once that segment is completed, the parkway will continue on a yet-to-be determined route north toward the Georgia.
As Damato pointed out, the parkway project includes the last component in creating an economic sweet spot in the middle of the county. Tens of millions of have been invested in improving roads, water and sewer services, drainage retention in the region. And now the limited-
access-highway availability puts the final asset in the bank.
Private developers and individual entrepreneurs have done much of the investment in making the center of Citrus County a strong zone for economic investment.
The county’s planning documents all point to the same region for economic improvements.
Inverness, Crystal River and Homosassa have each developed retail, restaurant and tourism related businesses in a positive way that plays off of the environmental sensitivities of these higher density communities.
The improved transportation facilities point toward creation of an Area of Economic Opportunity in the center of the county.
Citrus County is an incredible place to live and a great location for retirement. But for decades we’ve been limited by a high unemployment rate and low salaries compared to the rest of Florida. With the cost of housing now increasing, it is difficult for working class residents to survive here.
County government needs to take the lead on moving our economy forward. The commissioners should not be observers and arbitrators of all things. They should be leaders in moving Citrus County forward.
A real opportunity has been presented. The question now is “Do we have the leaders in place to move the county forward?”
Let’s not leave the chances to luck.