A bill designed to help companies like Bradenton's Tropicana Manufacturing Co. Inc. quickly expand its facilities passed the Legislature this week.
The Manufacturing Competitiveness Act is headed to Gov. Rick Scott for signature. State Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Jim Boyd, both Bradenton Republicans, sponsored the measure. It streamlines state and local regulations and approvals on manufacturers' expansion plans.
Galvano said the "manufacturer-friendly ordinance" simply removes red tape for companies working to expand their operations and gives Manatee County a reputation as a manufacturer-friendly community.
The new legislation allows local governments to adopt a Local Manufacturing Development Program that would offer master plan approval for manufacturing sites. The master plan would set outer limit ex
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pansion boundaries for a manufacturing site. While the master plan still must receive local approval, certain changes within the plan -- including future expansions or changes -- don't have to go back to state and local government for approval unless there are building code, life, or safety issues, according to the bill.
Tropicana, which recently expanded its bottling facilities, was slowed in its construction because it needed additional local approvals.
Last year Tropicana Manufacturing filed a new master site plan with Manatee County designed to streamline redevelopment of the entire 186-acre campus, including about 1.67 million square feet of additional building space.
The new master site plan required a complete examination of the company's facilities at 850 13th Ave. E.
The changes will allow the company to forego another regulatory site plan every time it wants to redevelop or add a new building, instead only needing to acquire necessary permits.
"To remove red tape as new products come online for Tropicana will only bring more dollars to the community quicker," Galvano said Friday.
Manufacturers residing in participating counties will also have access to a coordinated permitting process at the state level for the most common state permits. The bill also enables participating local governments to be self-identified as having a particular interest in having manufacturing facilities in their jurisdictions.
Galvano called the bill "vital to diversifying our economy and bringing manufacturing jobs to the state."
Toni Whitt, business editor, can be reached at 941-745-7087. Follow her on Twitter @toniTwhitt.