Jobs are on the way -- hurrah!

July 4, 2011 

Thank goodness, there are jobs on the horizon.

Plenty of them and Manatee and Sarasota businesses stand as good a chance as any in taking advantage of the situation.

The rescuer on the white horse?

Sunrail, the Central Florida commuter rail project that got past Gov. Rick Scott’s potential veto Friday and is headed to becoming a reality.

There had been a lot of speculation that Scott, who previously turned down federal dollars for a high-speed rail project in Florida, would turn a thumbs down on the I-4 corridor commuter project as well.

But local supporters joined others across the state in breathing a sigh of relief when the jobs stimulant squeezed past the veto pen last week.

Just because the project will center between Orlando and DeLand doesn’t mean that local companies won’t benefit.

Travis Hill, owner of TL Hill Construction, a Bradenton industrial construction firm, is ready to put in the first bid for work. His company does projects all across the country.

“It’s been back and forth like a yo-yo so I sort of lost interest in it,” he admitted, when told that the project was moving forward. “But we’ll look into it for sure.”

What’s really great about Sunrail is that it will be an economic stimulus for some of the hardest hit industries locally and statewide, like construction, for example.

Civil and design engineers, all types of construction trades and tons of spinoff businesses in retail, medical fields and housing are expected to benefit from Sunrail.

That’s one of the reason’s Stuart Rogel, with the Tampa Bay Regional Partnership, was a big backer and sent out encouragements to businesses to support the effort and let Gov. Scott know.

“We had our concerns and doubts because we had seen the high-speed rail turned down,” he said. “We knew we couldn’t count on anything.”

Scott has been touting his “jobs agenda” since first running for office, so he should be happy with the expectations of Sunrail on the jobs market. A study by the Department of Transportation says Sunrail, which will extend 31 miles from DeBary to Orlando in its first phase, will have a significant impact across the Super Region -- eight counties that make up the Tampa Bay region along with six counties in Central Florida, including Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Lake and Volusia.

More than 10,000 jobs will be created by SunRail construction, many of them immediately. Engineers to plan and design the project, construction workers to lay track and build 12 stations along the rail route, asphalt pourers for parking lots.

In the next 30 years, the DOT study estimated 250,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created by the line, creating an economic impact of more than $8 billion.

Spinoff jobs along the way would come from development occurring along the route. The Florida Hospital System has said one of its hospitals, which is located near one of the station stops, plans to expand, Rogel said.

Economist Sean Snaith said the benefits of mass transport are widespread and long lasting.

“The biggest splash is where the stone lands but that splash generates waves that push outward,” he said. “The secondary spending that ripples through the economy is significant.”

So Scott gets an A on this one. And hopefully the project will be a success not only as a job generator but also in providing the first significant link to a more efficient transportation network in the state. That might persuade the governor to think again when it comes to turning down mass transit money in the future.

We need the jobs.

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