City awards grant to newest resident in commerce park

Transportation company will create new jobs with service center.

A conceptual site plan for the new Averitt Express service center in the Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park [Averitt Express Inc.].

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Posted March 20, 2024 | By Caroline Brauchler

The city of Ocala is awarding a $150,000 grant through its Economic Investment Program to Averitt Express Inc., which will use the funds to create a service center in the commerce park that is expected to create at least 50 new jobs.

The service center neighbors Amazon, Chewy and AutoZone in the Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park off Northwest 35th Street.

Averitt Express is a privately owned freight transportation and supply chain service provider based in Tennessee with over 5,000 employees nationwide, according to its website.

The city’s investment program is “designed to create economic growth within the city’s municipal limits and the Ocala Electric Utility service territory by selectively awarding grants to new or existing businesses that seek to locate or expand their business facilities,” according to the grant.

Ocala will fund the company $150,000, in two installments, to support this large investment by Averitt Express in the commerce park. The company is expected to pay the city’s investment back within 18 months.

The estimated 5-year present value return on investment is approximately $488,676.99; this return is expected from ad valorem tax revenue,” according to the city’s return on investment analysis.

By June 2025, when the service center is anticipated to be up and running, at least 50 full-time employees will work there. The employees will make an average salary of $67,524 a year, and work full time at 2,080 hours a year, excluding overtime.

The service center will be larger and more costly than what the company had originally proposed, said Planning Director Aubrey Hale.

“The new facility will be a 36,000-square-foot logistics and service center, which is approximately 16,000 square feet larger than what they had (planned) before,” Hale said.

“This was recently approved back on Oct. 17, 2023. However, after the approval the developer met and decided that rather than going multiple phases, they were going to go in just one single phase,” Hale said. “They kind of repositioned a little bit. Originally, they were going to have a capital investment of around $11 million, or $11.5 million—now that has gone up to approximately $20 million.”

Averitt Express also agreed to conditions where it must exclusively receive power services from OEU for the next five years.

Other future development near the commerce park promises an interchange at Interstate 75 and Northwest 49th Street, with the Buc-ee’s superstore planning its largest location to be nestled just off the interstate.

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