Economic Yearbook 2007
TAMPA BAY: Fulfilling the Promise
Focusing on SRI International and a Merck venture.
REAL ESTATE: "The residential market is down," says Mary Jane Stanley, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council. "But commercial, office and light industrial are up, so we really haven't seen an overall slowdown."
TRANSPORTATION: The county grew faster than its roads could keep up -- and now it's time to catch up. "The county needs to increase fees somehow," says Stanley, "whether it's transportation impact fees, ad valorem taxes, whether it's a gas tax or whatever. We're going through a whole process of evaluating what it costs now to build roads and how we're going to cover those costs."
? Hudson-based Rubber Resources makes landscaping mulch out of old tires, which, in itself, isn't all that innovative. Companies have recycled tires that way since the 1980s, but many have failed because tires are formulated to reject paint. "Tire rubber doesn't want to be colored," says Dale Hawker, the company's owner. "But we've figured out a way to do it and do it quickly." The mulches, sold under the name Everlast RubberMulch, are produced in red, gray, brown, green, blue, and, most recently, camouflage. Hawker has a deal to sell tire mulch to a planned theme park in the United Arab Emirates.
? Jim Guedry purchased the old Pasco Beverage property in Dade City, cleaned it up and renovated it. Within a year, he had leased out 700,000 square feet of business, industrial, warehouse and office space. In April, Guedry opened a citrus museum on the property as well.
GROWTH: Hernando County's population has grown by nearly 4% each year since 2002, making it Tampa Bay's
fastest-growing county. Mike McHugh, director of the Hernando County Office of Business Development, says the economy is expanding quickly, too. "The trend is certainly toward higher-skill-level jobs and multitasking," McHugh says. "People are constantly having to innovate to reach higher quality standards, to be more efficient and to be more productive."
? Duratek Precast Structures has plans to build a 75,000-sq.-ft. facility in the Hernando County Airport RailPark off U.S. 41. The company, which employs 125, plans to spend $11 million on the facility, which will result in 90 jobs. The plant will use highly automated "state-of-the-art European technology" to produce precast concrete products, including hurricane-resistant housing and other structures.
? For many years, Brooksville's Sims Machine & Controls created machinery that enabled other businesses to solve manufacturing problems and produce products. Now, Sims has become part of Composite Motors, a maker of motor-controlled modules and other high-tech equipment used for industrial and medical equipment applications.
? Aaron Kinkaid, an engineering, manufacturing and drafting teacher at Nature Coast Technical High School, is leading a 37-student team at the 2007 FIRST Championship robot-building competition this month in Georgia. The team's 120-pound robot will be asked to follow a tracking light, stack inner tubes and lift other robots.