Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Westward Ho...

As part of my LEADERship course this week, we visited one of the oldest and most rural areas of Martin County – Indiantown. Indiantown feels like Old Florida to me, and I suspect to many of the folks who live there. There’s still a lot of old-fashioned frontier mentality there – which is a good thing in this context – and lots of opportunity. Along with a boatload of citrus groves (at least for now – not a good business to be in at the moment), ranches, etc.

Indiantown is at a crossroads – literally and figuratively. The area has several thousand residents, loads of land (mostly zoned agricultural, but also industrial, commercial and residential), and unfortunately some of the most economically blighted neighborhoods in the county. Indiantown also has its own bank, its own telephone company (which is very high tech, if you don’t know), its own natural gas company (the only one in the county), and a massive FPL generating facility (generating both power and tens of millions of dollars of local tax revenue). Its also its own Urban Service District, meaning its one of the few places in Martin County you can actually build something (and damn near the ONLY place you can build something industrial), and because the eastern USD is filling up, more and more folks have their eye on the town.

With the prospect of Scripps building a world-class biotech enclave about 12 miles or so from Indiantown proper, natural westward market forces favoring development being doused with jet fuel and folks are holding matches. Centex is already committed to building something like a couple of thousand homes there, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg (hmmm… wonder what their definition of “secondary” is in “Centex will only sell to individuals who will be purchasing a primary or secondary home” is).

Good for Indiantown, I say. This little town of 10,000 could truly turn into a much bigger part of Martin County’s economic engine – an engine that’s running primarily on service sector jobs. If the people of Indiantown can figure out a way to balance industrial with commercial with ag with residential, they’d be the first in our county. And I say “the people of Indiantown”, because with the tax base they have, the demand for development and the geographic separation from the rest of the county (they’re 30 miles inland), if others push to drive what Indiantown should become, I can see them packing up their toys and going home – incorporating, contracting with the County for essential services, and taking the FPL revenue generation plant with them. I don’t think the residents WANT to do it… but I’ll bet they will if they have to…


Post a Comment

<< Home