Groundbreaking Begins on New Rail Spur Segment at North Florida Mega Industrial Park
Exciting economic development progress for the North Central Florida region! The groundbreaking for the new rail spur connecting rail spur connecting into NFMIP was held December 12, 2019. Pictured l to r: Senior Manager Planning, Greg Galpin – Weyerhaeuser ; Charles “Hank” Hankerson, Vice President Operations – RailUSA, LLC; Ron Williams, Chair – Columbia County Commission; Crystal Stiles, Director of Economic Development – Florida Power & Light Company (FPL); Florida House of Representatives Chuck Brannan, District 10; Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist – Florida Chamber Foundation ; and Carl Warren, Director of Ports & International and Industrial Development – CSX .
Major Milestone Achieved at Economic Development Catalyst Site in Columbia County
LAKE CITY, Fla. (December 12, 2019) — Columbia County leaders, along with their public and private partners, today broke ground and hammered in golden spikes to start construction of a rail spur segment at the 2,600-acre North Florida Mega Industrial Park (NFMIP). Once complete in early 2020, the new rail spur will connect the shovel-ready Mega Site to Class III railroad, Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railway (FGA) via a CSX interchange. NFMIP is an Approved U.S. Opportunity Zone with a mainline connecting Jacksonville to New Orleans.
Dozens of business and economic development leaders, site selectors and elected officials were on hand to witness the first groundbreaking at the catalyst site — which is positioned to accommodate a large company or manufacturer looking to build or expand in the North Florida region. Attendees included representatives from FGA, Rail USA, Florida Power & Light Company, Florida Chamber of Commerce, CSX, Florida Department of Transportation, The City of Lake City, Moore Bass Consulting, Lake City Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Columbia County Board of Commissioners.
“Columbia County would like to thank the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Weyerhaeuser and all of our partners who have contributed countless hours and tremendous efforts into making this vision a reality. This rail spur is the final piece of infrastructure needed to complete this catalyst site, making the North Florida Mega Industrial Park ready for development,” said Commissioner Tim Murphy, Chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board.
CSX certified the site for the County, and Rail USA and the County are now constructing the rail spur that will run across Highway 90 directly into NFMIP.
“As the County’s newest partner, we are pleased to move this project forward and build on the work that has already been done by CSX. Once we complete the construction of the short-line rail, the North Florida Mega Industrial Park will truly be a multi-modal site that attracts larger rail-served industrial end-users. We want to congratulate Columbia County for achieving this major milestone in the development of the North Florida Mega Industrial Park as a catalyst for economic development,” said Charles “Hank” Hankerson, Vice President of Operations for Rail USA.
The single-owner supersite is located in Lake City, near the Florida/Georgia border. The Park is certified as a McCallum Sweeney Mega Industrial Park and a CSX Select Site. The Park has been approved for eight million square feet of industrial development and 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail development. It has access to a regional labor force of more than 1.2 million within a 60-mile radius.
“The groundbreaking of this rail spur is another positive step to further develop this regional economy, which will help Florida reach the Florida 2030 goal of becoming the 10th largest economy in the world,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation. “Not only will this rail spur help attract companies to the area, but more goods and freight from across Florida will also be transported through Lake City. This is a win for job creation in Columbia County, and a win for Florida’s economic development.”
Weyerhaeuser is one of the largest landowners in the Southeast and provided the land for the NFMIP.
“The Weyerhaeuser team is pleased to celebrate this milestone with Columbia County and all of the organizations that have made today possible,“ said Greg Galpin, Senior Planning Manager at Weyerhaeuser. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Columbia County to bring industrial development to this site and are expecting many more groundbreakings at the North Florida Mega Industrial Park in the future.”
Crystal Stiles, senior director of economic development at FPL, said the company is proud to be the energy provider and partner for the shovel-ready site.
“We all know how important it is that a site is ready with utilities – water, sewer and power. And having the rail system right there makes it even more attractive. This makes it easier for prospective businesses to envision themselves here,” said Stiles. “In addition to providing reliable and affordable energy, we are committed to working with companies to ensure they find their next home base here. We look forward to continuing our partnership as we all work toward the common goal of economic prosperity for the region and state.”
ABOUT NORTH FLORIDA MEGA INDUSTRIAL PARK
North Florida Mega Industrial Park (NFMIP) is a 2,622-acre mega-site with water, wastewater, electric, natural gas and telecommunications. It is zoned for eight million square feet of industrial, manufacturing and logistics development, plus 100,000 square feet of commercial/retail use. NFMIP is an approved U.S. Opportunity Zone situated in Lake City, Columbia County, featuring three miles of prime frontage on U.S. Highway 90, with Interstates 75 and 10 within 15 minutes. This mega-site is served by Class III railroad, Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railway via a CSX interchange, providing preferred accessibility to ports, airports and rail lines.
Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world’s largest private owners of timberlands, began operations in 1900. We own or control over 12 million acres of timberlands in the U.S. and manage additional timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. We manage these timberlands on a sustainable basis in compliance with internationally recognized forestry standards. We are also one of the largest manufacturers of wood products. Our company is a real estate investment trust. In 2018, we generated $7.5 billion in net sales and employed approximately 9,300 people who serve customers worldwide. We are listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index. Our common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WY. Learn more at https://www.weyerhaeuser.com/.