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Osceola consultant says LG’s $800M Smart City is a go

Electronics giant LG could kick-start development of the NeoCity technology district, as envisioned in this 2017 master plan rendering.
Electronics giant LG could kick-start development of the NeoCity technology district, as envisioned in this 2017 master plan rendering. (Perkins+Will)

South Korean electronics maker LG is coming to NeoCity and has already chosen a development partner for its $800 million “Smart City” town center, according to an Osceola County consultant.

NeoCity Links confirmed the project status in its 2019 Year End Status Summery, which was provided to the Board of County Commissioners earlier this week. In it, the firm stated that the LG Consortium led by LG Electronics made its third site visit to Osceola County in November 2019 and had “made a decision to move forward” on the 25-acre LG-branded town center.

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NeoCity Links partner Mark Miller told GrowthSpotter he hopes to have a finished agreement to bring to the county by the end of the March. LG is scouting locations within NeoCity for the project.

Osceola County has been wooing LG and other South Korean tech firms for years. Now it's close to inking a deal for a $500 million LG-branded town center in NeoCity.

“We’re excited about it,” he said. “This is moving a lot faster than most of these things do. But they all move slow.”

Osceola Economic Development Manager David Rodriguez was among the county officials who met with the delegation in November.

“They pretty much obtained information not only about the county, but also the region in terms of available workforce, graduate outputs for the university system and colleges, and the location of NeoCity relative to Central Florida and other economic development areas,” Rodriguez said.

The consortium also interviewed five local developers and two feasibility consulting firms during that time, ultimately selecting a partner. LG officials had previously toured the site in July with company executives, academics and architects.

“The thing that’s absolutely unique about this is that LG introduced us to the idea of this being a test bed for technology,” Miller said.

The subdivision plan creates 366 individual parcels, and entire city blocks, that can be sold to developers.

The project was first reported in July, but county officials say they’re still bound by confidentiality agreements. Their responses to the the NeoCity Links status report have been measured, and County Manager Don Fisher emphasized that the county doesn’t have “anything in writing.”

The LG deal would be the culmination of a years-long effort by Osceola County to recruit leading South Korean technology companies to NeoCity and BRIDG. To that end, Commissioners approved a contract extension and nearly $500,000 funding increase for NeoCity Links to maintain an office in Korea with three full-time staffers.

“The Koreans will not do business with anyone who does not have an office in South Korea,” Miller said. And the consultants have established relationships with some of the nation’s largest companies and academic institutions. Hyundai and Samsung are likely among the corporations being courted by Osceola County.

Osceola County is looking for expert help to recruit South Korean technology companies to NeoCity. 

NeoCity Links’ year-end report included a list of dozens of businesses that have met with the consultants. One company described as the the world’s second-largest semiconductor chip maker has expressed interest in leasing the BRIDG facilities and/or establishing a presence in NeoCity.

Another described as “Korea’s largest auto manufacturer” has a scheduled visit to NeoCity this quarter to consider developing a test bed for autonomous vehicles.

Multinational conglomerate, Doosan Group, matches the description of a Korean electronics and consumer goods company looking to partner with BRIDG.

Just this week the Osceola County brought on Tom Sunnarborg as its economic development director. Sunnarborg was a longtime Disney imagineer who oversaw the launch of Celebration. He also previously served as a vice president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and, most recently, led development of the world-renowned Streamsong Resort in Polk County.

“The fact that the county hired someone of Tom’s caliber did not go unnoticed by LG,” Miller said.

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Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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