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The Buzz: Busy Bee still set to open in Bonifay

The buzz about a new destination-stop service station is true.

Busy Bee will be opening a store at the southwest corner of
Interstate-10 in Holmes County. While there has not been an official
public announcement, Holmes County Development Commission (HCDC)
Executive Director Joe Rone has confirmed.

“They are invested in this community,” Rone said. “They have spent
almost $2 million on buying property off the interstate. We’re very
excited that they have chosen here and we’re very excited to get the
project started.”

The total property for development covers about 100 acres. In a joint
venture, the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners and HCDC
purchased about 80 percent of the land, and the Busy Bee the
remainder. David H Melvin Engineering out of Jackson County is the
engineer on the project.

Alongside the belief that the Busy Bee “name alone will attract
people” to the exit development, Leslie Hatfield, secretary and
treasurer of the Holmes County Tourist Development Commission, said
the project is “ideal for things long overdue in Holmes County.”

The county plans to sell off their portion of the total property to
auto dealers, restaurants, and other common retail businesses popular
off of Florida’s interstates.

“We know people like name brand things on the interstate such as
Cracker Barrel, Outback Steakhouse, and flagship hotels,” she said.
“It’s our time to have those things too – and buying the property is
part of that investment.”

The Busy Bee alone is expected to create 130 jobs, and the further
development of the total property could create several hundred more.
The county has been awarded about $5 million in grants for economic
and infrastructure development for the project thus far.

No timeline is available, officials said; however, county officials
anticipate Busy Bee representatives will be present at the county and
HCDC meetings in the near future.

“The type of development that is going on at the interstate is
designed to be an economic driver for the county for the present and
the future – and that does not happen overnight,” Hatfield said,
noting the “enormous service plaza of this scope” requires heavy
planning and funding. “There is so much enthusiasm from the company,
the development commission, and the county commission. There is no
doubt that it will come. It will take time, but it will come.”

Rone, who said Holmes County is “next in line” pointed to the popular
service station’s most recent expansion into Columbia County at the
intersection of U.S. Hwy 441 and I-75 near Lake City.

According to a recent article by FloridaPolitics.com, the 70,000
square foot store will be the company’s largest to date and break
ground in October.

“We are proud to be a Florida job creator; we currently employ over
400 employees in six counties across Florida, and this new store will
create approximately 200 jobs,” Elizabeth Warring, Busy Bee’s CEO,
according to the article. “Busy Bee is a Florida tradition, and we are
proud to fuel cars, trucks and people and we look forward to a bright
future in the Sunshine State.”

The company is reportedly in the process of adding another location on I-75.

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