Zip line at Haile Quarry hopes to create economic growth
Spain Development LLC projects their newest project will bring over $800,000 a year worth of jobs to the city of Newberry. The adventure park is estimated to have around 14 shifts a day, with employees making an hourly wage plus additional tips from guests.
Karl Spain, owner of Spain Development, 62, said this will be the longest zip line in the state of Florida and will be built over an abandoned limestone quarry. Spain said he plans to staff his operation with members of the Newberry community.
“Newberry is a booming, well-run city with a strong economic growth plan that centers on recreation, leisure and outdoor activities,” Spain said in an email. “So, it is not surprising they had the vision to help us take what was an exhausted limestone quarry back from the brink of being mined with more modern techniques (which would have completely obliterated the site) into what we expect will be a valuable community asset.”
Elizabeth Reyes, sales and marketing manager for Visit Gainesville, said in an email that Florida’s top producing industry is tourism, and Alachua County attracts 1,217,100 overnight visitors a year.
According to the Visit Florida website, "Florida's tourism industry was responsible for welcoming 137.6 million visitors in 2022, the highest number of visitors in the state’s history. This represents a 12.9% increase over 2021 and a 5.0% increase over 2019.”
North central Florida’s tourism thrives on exploring natural resources found going down Interstate 75. Ichetucknee Springs, located just west of High Springs, Florida, receives about 200,000 visitors annually. The majority of the spring’s visitors come in the warmer months.
Bev’s Better Burgers is a small restaurant in High Springs, Florida, located between I-75 and Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Andy Philips, 53, Bev’s Better Burger’s manager, said the flow of people coming from I-75 to the springs helps the restaurant balance out customers during what would be the slower months.
In the marketing plan, Spain said he is going to put billboards along I-75 and direction signs on the roads leading up to the park.
Ted Astleford, University of Florida business professor, conducted a study with his students to see how likely people are to travel the 12 miles from I-75. Astleford said they concluded that most people would travel the distance to the quarry.
“I think that a successful zip-line experience, like the one that he [Spain] was describing, is pretty cool," Astleford said. “We found that families on vacation and students from the university would travel off of I-75 to go there.”