With its unique position as the natural midway point on South Florida’s Okeechobee Waterway, connecting Stuart on the east coast to Fort Myers on the west coast, via Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River, Glades County offers a variety of available sites for the marine industry sector.

Life-long boating enthusiast Joseph T. Charles recognized a need for a better alternative than the typical marine facility in Florida, deciding it was time to build his own and do it to substantially higher standards than what was being offered previously. In 2004, he opened River Forest Yachting Center in Stuart, then followed that with the grand opening of River Forest Yachting Center in Ortona (just outside LaBelle, FL) in 2009. River Forest’s $11 million Ortona facility boasts more than 100,000 square feet of climate controlled storage buildings, 1000 feet of linear dock, a two-acre barnacle free 900 ft. deep water basin, an 82 ton marine travel lift capable of transporting boats with up to 22 ft. beams, two acres of concrete pad for outdoor storage, a clubhouse complete with meeting space, galley kitchen, and ship store. Currently, 14 acres of the remaining available space on the 30 acre Ortona site, have been allocated for the expansion of new and additional business endeavors.

The presence of an excellent new and additional customer base, and the availability of affordable waterfront land were important factors in that decision, as well as, the very positive and willing to help response from County and City officials. In addition, the availability of a large workforce played a role as well.


In December 2010, River Forest Yachting Centers was granted a five year, 100 percent economic development tax abatement by the Glades County Board of County Commissioners for the proposed $1.7 million expansion of their Ortona facility, which has the potential to bring an additional 26,000 square feet of yacht storage and service space to the campus.

For a customized analysis of the various state and local incentives which might be available to your company if you consider expanding or relocating your marine-based business to a waterfront location in Glades County, contact:

Tracy Whirls, Executive Director
Glades County Economic Development Council, Inc.
P.O. Box 1003
Moore Haven, FL 33471
Phone: (863) 946-0300
Fax: (863) 946-0777
Cell: (863) 227-2438
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.