With the arrival of new merchandise distribution centers, clothing companies, restaurants, and gyms, Hialeah Gardens expects an investment of at least $60 million in 2014, Mayor Yioset de la Cruz said this week.
That private capital is expected to create more than 600 new jobs, according to the mayor.
“It’s a conservative estimate, but encouraging,” De la Cruz said. “The total private investment for this new year could be much higher, just as it happened in 2013.’’ The city is coordinating with the private sector to encourage new business, he said.
At the beginning of 2013, the city estimate for investment was $75 million. The total grew to about $117 million, thanks to the city’s ongoing search for business development, said De la Cruz.
Located in northwest Miami-Dade, Hialeah Gardens is a city of 4.2 square miles with easy access to Okeechobee Road, a route that allows a fast connection from the county’s west toward Miami International Airport and the PortMiami, as well as the Palmetto Expressway, the Florida Turnpike, and I-75.
Its location was critical to the decision by ice-cream producer Blue Bell, based in Texas, to move its South Florida distribution center from Miramar to Hialeah Gardens, said Will Bonnecaze, the firm’s general manager.
The new Blue Bell center, an $8.5 million investment, started its operation two weeks ago at a 2.2-acre location at 13295 Okeechobee Rd. There, about 40 employees work with a fleet of 18 refrigerated trucks that deliver ice cream to supermarkets in Broward, Miami-Dade, and the Keys.
“Hialeah Gardens has a privileged location,” Bonnecaze said. “Besides, we have found here a great workforce and a fantastic market for our product.”
According to De la Cruz, development will begin in the next few months on a retail center near Okeechobee Road; T.J. Maxx will be the anchor tenant. L.A. Fitness is also planning a location in the city, home to about 22,300 residents, mostly Hispanic. The average annual income is about $32,000, according to city statistics.
The mayor also highlighted the arrival in 2013 of the Austrian firm Liebherr, which produces heavy machinery.
Helmut Deutsch, general manager of Liebherr, said the company opened a Hialeah Gardens location because its Medley site could not easily accommodate the movement and storage of high-tonnage equipment, such as container carriers and crane parts.
“This new infrastructure [in Hialeah Gardens] allows easy access from the Turnpike,” said Deutsch. “We couldn’t have transported all this machinery to Medley.”
Steven Sosa, the operations manager of Liebherr in Hialeah Gardens, said the 10-acre industrial complex was inaugurated in June after a $20 million investment. Almost 50 workers were hired.
De la Cruz added that the investment flow also includes shopping centers such as the Lakes Garden Center, now under construction on Okeechobee Road at 130th Avenue.
“The important thing is that we are working to attract all this investment,” De la Cruz said. “This will definitely have a favorable impact on our community.”