The new infrastructure is expected to stimulate development and jobs in Suwannee County

City says 7,000 summer jobs are available for Boston youth ages 14 to 18

LIVE OAK, Fla. (WTXL)—A project meant to bring hundreds of jobs to part of Big Bend is moving forward thanks to new funding. We track the progress of the so-called Catalyst site in Suwannee County.

“Our quality of life is very important in Suwannee County,” Jamie Norris explained.

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He is the Suwannee County Economic Development Director. He said that new infrastructure is needed to develop more than 500 feddans.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced $1.9 million in funding to help get that project back in August.

“It’s always good for the governor to know we’re here,” Norris said. $1.9 million will go towards expanding the water infrastructure at the site.

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“We believe this is a place where we can expand our manufacturing base in Florida.” Governor Ron DeSantis

Don Hill added, “It’s exciting for me to see the friends and family I’ve grown up with whose kids…we provide them with a place to work.”

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He is a county commissioner born and raised in Suwannee County. He said more people are moving here every day. The new development could help provide jobs for the new neighbours.

Although all of this development is happening about seven miles from downtown Live Oak, with hundreds of jobs coming here, it could help already established businesses. It includes Aqua Clean Seaman. It is a pool cleaning business and service business with a store in Live Oak. They have been in business for 28 years.

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Savannah Brown works there and said it gets very busy in the summer. Winter time too, we stay pretty flat.” While more people moving here could be good for work, she said there are concerns about housing everyone. “Whether it’s apartments, houses, neighborhoods or even out of the country. There is a lot of land.”

It is that land that Norris said they would have to consider developing. When asked if there was enough housing to support new workers, he explained, “There isn’t, but I think it’s the same in most communities. Housing is a big deal, especially workforce housing. We now have a national home builder working in Suwannee County.”

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One company in the catalyst site that is already growing is Benderholz sawmill. Norris said they are investing $70 million and creating as many as 50 new jobs. Four other companies have purchased land at the catalyst site, but he has not been able to reveal who yet.