'Long overdue.' Sanford seeing major growth in Lee County

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Monday, July 17, 2023
Lee County's Sanford experiencing major growth
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With a prominent presence in Lee County, the town of Sanford has rightfully earned its spot as being a boomtown.

With a prominent presence in Lee County, the town of Sanford has rightfully earned its spot as being a boomtown.

"If this is boomtown for Sanford, I think it's long overdue and I'm excited to see what they're going to do in the future," said Joel Geniesse with Smith Douglass Homes. The real estate developer is currently selling 3 to 5-bedroom homes in a community called 78 South priced under $300,000. Geniesse said the developer has a passion for building homes that serve people in the community who help make up the community.

Those professions include nurses, teachers, first responders, and others.

The growth already happening and that continues to happen is attractive and Geniesse notices.

"If you were to ask me how to write a playbook on growth for a town, I'd point you to Sanford," he said.

The comments come as Smith Douglas Homes, GiGi's Creations, and India-based Bharat Forge Aluminum all recognize and contribute to the town's growth.

"It is a very good problem to have. Very blessed," said GiGi's owner Angie Mundy. "And so thankful for all the people that have supported us since we started."

She left her job as a dental hygienist after 35 years to pursue this dream of hers. Her small staff is made up of people who call Lee County home.

Car part manufacturer Bharat Forge Aluminum makes wheel carriers and steering wheel knuckles for brands like Toyota, Audi, Ford, Mercedes Benz, and BMW.

The company's leadership flew to the Southeast US from India to tour various cities before landing on Sanford. "They fell in love with the people here," said director of human resources Courtney Holcomb. "So they knew they loved this community and that was a huge decision and they felt like they should be here."

Those stories and experiences keep Sanford Area Growth Alliance and the Chamber of Commerce hard at work at attracting, fostering, and retaining talent in Sanford -- which already boasts a healthy economic community.

"Most people think Sanford is a small town. Ain't nothing going on there. But there's a lot going on here," said Susan Gomez, director of the Chamber of Commerce. "And I think once they come in and see even a day of being in town, they realize wow we have so much to give."

The New York native moved here almost 25 years ago after stints in Brooklyn and Miami.

"I now say this is my home," Gomez said.

"As a lifelong resident...I love that," said SAGA CEO Jimmy Randolph. "I love the positive change that we're experiencing and I think that's the sentiment the entire community feels. We've held on to a lot of our heritage. We've held onto a lot of our historic properties and that sort of thing. And we've embraced the right kind of growth and understand that that means opportunity for us."

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