County, Sparton Team Up to Help the Economy and the Environment

Volusia County Economic Development

November 06, 2020

Sparton and County leadership stand in front of new wastewater treatment plant

County, Sparton Team Up to Help the Economy and the Environment

Operating out of its vast manufacturing facility in DeLeon Springs, Sparton has been a good neighbor, a good corporate citizen and one of Volusia County’s largest private-industry employers for more than 50 years. For Sparton and the local community, being socially responsible takes on added significance given the company’s close proximity to a delicate watershed that includes the natural spring at DeLeon Springs State Park about a mile away. And that’s why Sparton’s recent overhaul of its onsite wastewater disposal system to a more environmentally-friendly treatment plant was cause for celebration. And it all happened with the help of a grant from the county – an investment in Sparton, the local economy and the protection of precious water resources.

“Today represents a textbook example of a public-private partnership that benefits the entire community,” County Council member Ben Johnson said when Sparton recently hosted a group of county officials on a tour of the facility to see the new wastewater treatment plant and commemorate the company’s cooperative working relationship with the county that’s paying dividends for all involved. “The business community is a winner. The local economy and the job market is a winner. And the environment is a winner.”

Sparton is the first recipient of the water quality infrastructure grant program that the County Council established in 2018. Developed by the Volusia Economic Development Division, the program provides financial assistance to businesses to help them pay for needed improvements to wastewater systems that serve their businesses and are located in environmentally sensitive areas such as spring sheds or coastal estuaries. But not just any businesses – specifically, qualified defense contractors and the aerospace industry. For businesses that meet the program’s eligibility criteria, the idea is to provide them with incentives to locate, grow and prosper here, while at the same time helping those businesses to operate in harmony with Volusia County’s natural environment. Sparton met the program’s eligibility requirements because more than 70 percent of the gross receipts generated by the facility in the past have come from defense or space flight business. A major chunk of its business is manufacturing undersea sonobuoy detection devices for the U.S. military. Sparton employs nearly 600 people at its DeLeon Springs facility.

“When we talk about wanting good, high-quality jobs, the type of jobs that you provide here at Sparton is exactly what we’re talking about,” said County Manager George Recktenwald. “This water quality infrastructure grant program that the County Council put in place is another tool that we can use to help the environment and help local businesses like Sparton grow and thrive.”

The new wastewater treatment plant not only expands capacity, but it’s significantly reducing nitrogen discharge and serving as an added environmental protection for the DeLeon Springs springshed. The treatment system’s recent completion was a double cause for celebration, having come right after Sparton’s announcement that it had relocated its corporate headquarters from the Chicago area to DeLeon Springs. And the company president and CEO, Bill Toti, said the business culture in Volusia County and the support from county government had everything to do with the decision.

“We did that because of the wonderful business environment in Volusia County,” said Toti. “The people here in Volusia County are fantastic. We have just under 600 patriot employees that we’re just so thrilled with, and we love it here.”

Rick Karl, the county’s director of aviation & economic resources, said supporting the business community is why the grant program was established in the first place.

"Sparton is a tremendous asset in our community,” said Karl. “Recognizing the importance of our existing businesses, understanding their needs, and partnering to help them grow within our community is exactly what the Volusia County Economic Development’s business retention and expansion program is all about."

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