The City of Longwood is on a development bent and has devised a relatively novel way of bringing business into its community: by posting extensive descriptions of available properties on its website.
The city pulls properties in Longwood from real estate sales and leasing sites like LoopNet, as well as city information, and uploads them to its Business tab under "Available Properties."
Prospective buyers and lessors can find in one place available land in the city, along with retail, industrial and office properties that are on the market.
The approach is an effort to highlight Longwood properties that may only be getting lumped in on websites with all the others for sale or lease in Central Florida.
For instance, right now in Longwood, there are 11 office properties for sale, including 15,000 square feet on Ronald Reagan Boulevard for $1.9 million. Conversely, a 916,000-square-foot office suitable for an insurance or mortgage business is for sale for $175,000 on E. S.R. 434.
While the site is functional and informative, starting this week it will be improved with greater organization and easier maneuverability after Economic Development Manager Tom Krueger finishes some upgrades.
Krueger has been with Longwood for two years, and brought with him from his last economic position in a small Ohio town a proactive approach to city development.
"You have to not only get your name out there, but provide the right kind of information," he said. "And it is definitely a social media world."
Longwood "hasn't been very open to development in the past," he added.
Kreuger's goal now is to "strengthen our approach to those shopping here and attract those who hadn't considered the city."
The one-stop-shopping strategy behind the city's real estate listings page could make it easier for developers, investors and others to see exactly what Longwood has in its inventory.
The approach won over Glen Mather, CEO of financial services provider NuView IRA.
Mather's banker saw an office building on the Longwood site and passed it along to the business owner.
The result: the purchase of the Longwood office building and extra room for expansion.
"I never would have noticed it," Mather said. "Having it on the site made all of the difference."
Krueger said his meetings with bankers, brokers and developers have increased since the postings started.
And he accompanies the site with information about Longwood as an appealing place to live, as well as facts about its proximity to area airports and deep water ports.
"We're all still trying to inch back to the tax base we had in 2007," he said. "This is a tool that will hopefully help get us there. The more information businesses can have, the more they can keep it on their desktop."
Once companies do come to Longwood, the city has a number of economic incentive programs for them. They include ad valorem tax breaks based on the value of property increasing, below-market-rate loans for very small businesses, matching grants for businesses in the historic district, and rebates when energy efficiency work is done on a building.