Hendry County – SATOP’s Sweet Route to Success

SATOP has formed Alliances with Economic development Organizations (EDOs) to help market the program to small businesses.

If you’re traveling to or through Hendry County you are likely to hit “Sweet Route 80.” Like the famous Route 66 which connects America’s west to its midwest, “Sweet Route 80” connects Florida’s coasts and runs directly through Hendry County. The nickname “Sweet Route 80” reflects the area’s long-standing history in both the citrus and sugarcane industries. Today, the sugar industry alone employs more than 1,800 people in the area.

Hendry County is named after legendary cattle baron and Civil War hero Captain Francis Asbury Hendry. The city of LaBelle, which derives its namesake from Captain Hendry’s daughters Laura and Belle, is home to the Hendry County Economic Development Council. This organization is responsible for attracting new businesses, retaining existing businesses and serving as the focal point for local economic development initiatives. The EDC has also been the lead organization responsible for marketing SATOP within the county since 1998.

According to Janice Groves, Director of the Hendry County EDC, the organization
promotes SATOP in virtually every conversation they have with small business owners. “We approach businesses on an individual basis and we also make presentations at different civic organizations including Rotary, Kiwanis, and various Chamber meetings,” Groves indicated. The EDC has also promoted SATOP on local radio stations, in weekly newspapers articles and in the EDC monthly newsletter. Recently, the organization worked with the Small Business Administration to present information concerning SATOP at one of the agency’s all-day workshops.

“It is challenging to connect with businesses in rural areas of the state, and we feel very fortunate to have a partner like the Hendry County EDC working to help us in that regard. Agriculture is a huge industry in Florida and in Hendry County in particular, and I believe that the technology of the space program can help agriculture in many ways,” stated SATOP Director Paul Secor. In fact, SATOP was recently able to provide a non-profit agency that is involved in providing agricultural engineering services within Hendry County with information and recommendations regarding cutting-edge fuel cell technology.

Bringing the power of the space program to Hendry County is something that provides an unrivaled level of technical support to small businesses in the area. “What other opportunity do we have to ‘cash in’ on some of the top minds in the country for free assistance for our small business technical problems? I just can’t say enough good things about SATOP,” declared Groves.