The grandson of citrus magnate and philanthropist Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. has only been at the helm of Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. for a few months since his father passed, but Ben Hill Griffin IV is already making waves in Frostproof.
Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. Vice President of Citrus Marketing Emery Smith said his boss “Hill” is wondering if around 200 acres of good-producing citrus groves around Frostproof could be better used.
To answer that, the BHG board decided to seek help from Central Florida Development Council staff.
“We've got to plan to think about something for tomorrow,” Smith said during a presentation at Frostproof City Hall Oct. 27.
BHG owns more than 200 acres of groves surrounding the Ferguson Distribution Center and the Lowe's Flatbed Distribution Center. A rail line is already connected to the Ferguson plant.
Presenters said that 200 acres of centrally located land with access to rail would be a good spot for an industrial park.
If built as presented, it would be the second industrial park for the relatively small city of Frostproof. The city council has already annexed land all the way to the Nucor Steel plant being built near the Polk and Highlands county line.
In addition to annexing land, members of the Frostproof City Council have also decreased impact fees and utility connection fees in Frostproof in an attempt to generate more investment.
Frostproof City Council member Mike Hutto said Hill Griffin IV has been active since taking over for his father.
BHG recently sold some land to a window manufacturing industry out of Miami. Hutto said prior to the sale, Hill Griffin wanted to make sure their building would look decent once built.
“The good thing about Hill Griffin, he is so Frostproof oriented,” Hutto said. “He doesn't want big major companies coming in here, polluting the air, pushing people out of their homes.”
No industrial park can be built without multiple public hearings, none of which have taken place yet. The presentation on Oct. 27 was an idea proposal for city staff and the city council to consider possibly sometime in the future.
CFDC Vice President of Development Jennifer Taylor said an industrial park may employ more people than a citrus grove can.
“Basically we want to create jobs and we want to create the right kind of jobs,” Taylor said.