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3/8/2016 8:30:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

CSX Intermodal Terminal Brings Economic Boost to Florida Town

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

The facility is a month shy of its second birthday, but Winter Haven, Florida, city and business leaders say the CSX intermodal terminal and surrounding logistics center already are bringing the economic development they wanted.

They lauded the terminal when it began unloading freight containers in April 2014, touting that it would be an economic development coup for not only Winter Haven but all of Polk County — putting the region at the forefront of logistics.

"The general public may not think they feel an impact, but it's there," said Katie Worthington, CEO of the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce.

The start is slow, but that was expected, Worthington and other leaders said.

Merle Bishop, the city's growth management director, said the impact of the terminal should be looked at in from five to 20 years. It is expected to create a $10 billion economic impact over 10 years, according to an HDR Engineering study.

But Bishop said there have been some immediate effects.

"It's definitely spurring economic development," Bishop said. "While it's not going to happen overnight, the city has seen an increase in activity associated with CSX."

That includes increased traffic, job creation and warehouse construction.

The terminal employs 43 CSX employees and can process up to 300,000 containers a year. It processed 220,000 in 2015, CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay said, and is exceeding the number of containers processed this time last year.

CSX has 40 intermodal terminals across its network, and Seay said the Winter Haven terminal is performing as well as any other. CSX's next terminal is planned to open in 2017 in Pittsburgh.

Possibly the greatest impact of the 318-acre facility in Winter Haven is the draw it is expected to create to the surrounding 932 acres dubbed the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center.

Bruce Lyon, president of the Winter Haven Economic Development Council, works closely with Winter Haven Industrial Investors, a company created by GEM Capital Realty to develop the surrounding logistics center. GEM Capital Realty owns about 500 of the 932 acres, Bishop said, and is under contract to purchase the rest.

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By Madison Fantozzi
The (Lakeland, Fla.) Ledger


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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