Manufacturing in Volusia County has taken a big hit in the past five years, dropping more than 2,000 jobs.
At its peak, Volusia had 10,800 people employed in manufacturing and, as of August, it was at 8,600. That was, at least, up 200 jobs from the previous year. But it's a far cry from what the county needs. I've always maintained that Volusia needs at least 15,000 manufacturing jobs to have a totally sound economy. At that point, the county economy will be sufficiently diversified to provide opportunities that will keep more of our bright minds at home to help build an even better quality of life for Volusia residents.
Volusia residents do make things. Edgewater is one of the largest boat manufacturing centers in the country with four boat makers and myriad suppliers that give the city a great business base. Except for the Indian River, the city doesn't attract a lot of tourists and doesn't have a lot of resources. But yet it has done just fine.
With the VMA's annual manufacturing showcase just completed, it's time to look at what it will take to either build up the existing manufacturers or attract more to Volusia. If the entire county could depend more on manufacturing and less on tourism like Edgewater, it would be a much different place -- a place with higher wages and more prosperity.
The onslaught of convenience stores continues as construction has started on a new 7-Eleven at Clyde Morris Boulevard and Reed Canal Road in Port Orange. With what Sunoco is doing, two Racetracs coming to Daytona Beach and two Wawas planned for Port Orange, East Volusia is definitely getting its share. The silver lining is that Sunoco is getting rid of some eyesores, some construction jobs are getting created and even a few retail management jobs will be available. But maybe West Volusia would like a few more?
Is it my imagination or is downtown Beach Street in Daytona Beach starting to get more activity. A shop named Moxie Vintage is going in at 114 N. Beach St., which begs the question. Why didn't downtown Beach Street already have a vintage clothing shop?
There's not a lot of commercial real estate activity recently, but Family Dollar Stores did sell its new store at Mason Avenue and Derbyshire Road in Daytona Beach for about $1.56 million. As my old journalism co-worker and buddy John Bozzo appropriately pointed out, that's a lot of dollars for a dollar store.
I thought something big was happening with Sears with a store under construction at the Promenade shopping center at Beville and Nova roads in Daytona Beach. But, no, Sears isn't leaving Volusia Mall. It's one of those Sears Outlet stores like there is in DeLand. Not quite sure what the difference is in an Outlet store and a Sears Hometown Store like there is in New Smyrna Beach. Looks like you can get discounted prices on appliances, lawn and garden equipment, mattresses, fitness equipment and furniture at an Outlet store, and the same things at a Sears Hometown Store.
I also got excited to discover a new commercial project in West Volusia. But, alas, it's a car wash at Victoria Square shopping center on South Woodland Boulevard. Nothing against car washes, but it would be nice to see West Volusia start getting more stuff. Especially since the population of DeLand has actually grown sharply in the past few years.
Finally, something that escaped my attention when the owner of Rossellini's Restaurant bought the former Main Street Grill and expanded its offerings, he also renamed it the Lucky Rooster Pub & Eatery.
Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 16 years. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.