Citrus County
Quality of Life

Our History

History of Citrus CountyCitrus County’s economic history can be traced to pre-Columbian settlements located throughout the County. The most impressive site is the Crystal River Archeological Site, which is operated as a State Park. During this period, the economy was based on fishing in the Crystal River and the Gulf of Mexico.

European contact came to Florida in the early sixteenth century, with the explorations of Ponce De Leon. Spanish settlement and influence concentrated along the major route of the Silver Fleet, known as the Spanish Main. The route included coasting lanes along the Atlantic shore. The Spanish visited what is now Citrus County in the early sixteenth century, with the arrival of the Desoto Expedition. US-41 is said to be the approximate route that Desoto took.

While European presence was heavily concentrated along the east coast of Florida as early as the sixteenth century, Citrus County remained relatively unaffected until the latter half of the eighteenth century. Citrus County was settled by Scottish immigrants during the British occupation of Florida, which lasted from 1763 to 1783. The Scots were mainly small farmers.

There was almost no Spanish influence in Citrus County through the second Spanish domination of Florida. This period of Florida’s history lasted from 1783 until the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819. By the terms of the treaty, Florida was purchased from Spain and became a territory of the United States.

With American settlement, sugar production was introduced at the Yulee Sugar Mill and became a significant part of the economic base. During the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the agricultural economy centered on the production of basic produce, supplemented by sugar cane, tobacco, horse and cattle ranching, and timber. Ironically, citrus cultivation was a late addition to the agricultural economy and has never been a dominant part of the economy of Citrus County. The second half of the 20th century brought demand for dolomite, limestone, and phosphates. Citrus County has large deposits of all three minerals and open pit mining became part of the economic equation and is still an important part of the Citrus County economy.

The second half of the 20th century also brought the Florida land boom to Citrus County. The land boom began in South Florida with the opening of Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad. From the beginning of the land boom in the 1920’s until well into the 1960’s, development was concentrated on the south Atlantic coast, mostly in Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami. By the 1970’s, Citrus County’s economic base was concentrated in the construction of retirement homes and the commercial space needed to support the new retired population. With the extensive population growth, demand for services increased, which in turn yielded a need for a strong and diverse economy. In this regard, an Industrial Development Council was formed to assist existing businesses and recruit new industry. Over time the Industrial Development Council evolved into an Economic Development Office staffed and funded by Citrus County. In addition, various private business groups supported industrial recruitment.

In July 1991, the Bridge 2000 Council prepared a survey to obtain information about the business climate in Citrus County. The goal of the Council, as stated in the introduction to the survey questionnaire, was “…to provide the business community of Citrus County with the types of services and information it considers beneficial for economic growth.” The results of the survey revealed some concerns of the business community affecting the local business environment.

The survey showed that the business community is fairly comfortable with Citrus County, although there are some areas of the economy which needed to be addressed. The business community perceived Citrus County as lacking in recreational and cultural facilities, infrastructure, and adequate highways. In 1993, Citrus County dissolved the Economic Development Office into a smaller supporting role within the Department of Development Services. A new, private organization, the Economic Development Association of Citrus County, Inc. (EDACC), assumed the lead role in economic development efforts. The Board of County Commissioners communicated to the Department of Commerce that EDACC is the official contact agency for economic development in Citrus County.

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Economic Development Authority for Citrus County
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