Case Study: Businesses, Agriculture, ADA Compliance

St. Lucie County, Florida, places great importance on helping its constituents succeed — whoever they might be and whatever they might need. From a drive to make every business successful to supporting a booming agricultural market to ensuring those with impairments have the same access and transparency as everyone else, St. Lucie County loves its community and exerts substantial effort to show its appreciation.

Helping Businesses Thrive

One area where St. Lucie County places a lot of focus is in helping businesses understand how valuable they are to the community. The county government has standards for how it wants businesses to look and behave in order to preserve what makes the community special, but instead of focusing on rules and requirements, St. Lucie County is concerned with turning any “no” into a “yes” to help every business succeed.

“We invest in economic development,” said Director of Planning and Development Services Leslie Olson.

The county has a business navigator who helps businesses through the process of entitlement and an economic development manager who sets policies and economic development incentives. The county also works closely with the Economic Development council. Olson explained the reason St. Lucie County is so focused on economic development is because that focus is a necessary stepping stone to reaching their number-one goal: creating better, high-paying jobs.

Because we have all those resources for our local businesses, we’re really focused on jobs. We’re here to be in partnership with you to create a better community. That’s part of transparency. It’s part of outreach. It’s part of bringing the community in as a partner and saying, ‘Let’s all work together.’

Leslie Olson

Director of Planning and Development Services

Supporting Agriculture in Innovative Ways

St. Lucie County has also established the 356-acre Treasure Coast Research Park focused on agriculture and biotechnology. It’s headed by an authority group made up of local agricultural experts, real estate investors, financial advisors, and educators.

While the full extent of this park is yet to be realized, one construction project that is complete is the Sunshine Kitchen, equipped with a full commercial kitchen and research lab for commercial food entrepreneurs.

Sunshine Kichen

“The Sunshine Kitchen is a business incubator, specifically for the culinary arts, focusing on how to build on the strength of our significant agricultural areas and strengths,” said Olson.

It capitalizes on the farm-to-table concept and allows citizens to lease hours in the commercial kitchen to help grow their small businesses into something larger.

[The Sunshine Kitchen is something] we’re doing to build on the green resources we have and ensure those have a market, so agriculture in particular has a sustainable market and we create ways for people to build their own businesses out of that. The research park also will focus on sustainable and green businesses associated with food and agriculture as it develops.

Leslie Olson

Director of Planning and Development Services

ADA Compliance for Clear Communication With All

Another area where St. Lucie County is focusing on enhancing the community is by realizing the need to make their online assets compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Being ADA-compliant means St. Lucie County’s electronic information is accessbile to people with disabilities, which is an important aspect of transparency and inclusion.

“Understanding how we can be both more transparent while being ADA acceptable is a real trick for us right now,” said Olson. “We’re not sure how we’re going to do it yet, but we’re taking steps to figure it out.”

One of those steps St. Lucie County is taking is working closely with their software vendors to ensure any new citizenfacing technology implemented is ADA-compliant. The county government is hoping to take lessons learned from those vendor partnerships and enhance their accessibility across all channels.

By recognizing both weaknesses and strengths and taking steps to better operations and community life across the board, St. Lucie County is creating an atmosphere of trust and respect in southeast Florida. The county’s government focuses its efforts in areas that will have positive impacts on citizens, businesses, and its economy to help the community thrive.

Case Study Highlights

  • Economic development focus creates better, higher-paying jobs
  • Community inclusion enhanced with ADA-compliant, accessible electronic information
  • New sustainable, green businesses supported by incubator

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