Florida's Central/Space Coast region grows new business on solid roots in aviation and tourism.
Growth spreads across industry sectors
Citizens Communications, which offers telephone, television and Internet service in mostly rural and small-town areas, also turned to Central/Space Coast Florida in 2006. Operating under its brand name Frontier, Citizens plans to build an inbound call center in DeLand that will eventually employ about 500 people. The company began moving into its newly renovated 40,000-square-foot facility along U.S. Highway 17-92 just south of DeLand in August 2006. As representatives from the company's headquarters in Stamford, Conn., met to analyze not only the community but also the workforce, in a café on Main Street in DeLand at 10 o'clock one night, they noticed there was still lots of activity downtown. That solidified their decision, says Volusia County Department of Economic Development's Rick Michael.
The company is expected to have a $40 million impact on the local economy, he adds. "There are a lot of things you need to support a workforce that size," including lunch places, dry cleaners, housing.
DeLand is looking forward to providing a ready workforce as the call center grows, thanks in part to the presence of Stetson University, which has an undergraduate student population of about 2,200.
In Brevard County, Med-Solutions has grown more quickly than planned, adding 190 jobs this year. MedSolutions provides radiology management services for nationally recognized managed care companies.
Before locating to Melbourne in 2005, the company hired a consulting firm to conduct a nationwide search, says John Chesnut, the project manager. Other locations MedSolutions considered were Texas, Arizona and its home base of Franklin, Tenn.
"We really tried to focus on some of the areas where we would get the best job applicant pool," Chesnut says. "Overall, Melbourne seemed like a very progressive area. There was a lot of new construction and development." MedSolutions built a 37,000-square-foot facility at Florida Marketplace near Melbourne International Airport to accommodate 112 people. The company's expansion will bring the number of employees to more than 300 over the next two years.
In Seminole County, Bank of New York established a base in 2001 for its BNY Investment Management Services, which handles broker clearing operations and securities processing for brokers and dealers. The operation has expanded several times since 2001 and now has grown to 550 employees.
In Sumter County, Eagle Roofing Products Florida LLC is building a manufacturing plant on 57 acres at County Roads 470 and 301, where it plans to start production on ceramic roofing tiles in October.
The new facility marks parent company Eagle Roofing Inc.'s intent to expand its distribution to the Southeast from its home base in Rialto, Calif., and other plants in Stockton, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz., which employ a total of 1,200. "The rapidly growing housing market and the diversion of asphalt shingles to the Katrina rebuilding efforts have created a real shortage of concrete tile products in Florida," says Kevin Burlingame, president of Burlingame Industries, which owns Eagle Roofing. "Large tract builders and distributors have told us that a new facility was really needed to serve this part of the country."
More than 1,000 software design, data processing and information retrieval firms call this Florida region home.
The company plans to hire about 200 people to work at its 228,000-square-foot Sumterville plant in the first year, eventually expanding the workforce to 300. Electricians, mechanics, machine operators, forklift drivers, supervisors and customer service representatives will be among the new hires.
"We know the Sumter County area will bring us quality individuals that represent our vision," says Adrian Robledo, human resources manager. In Lake County, Ron Davis and his business partner Forrest Berg saw an opportunity to make money in Florida's housing boom while improving the efficiency of the construction industry. They opened Insulated Component Structures of Florida in Eustis in June 2005. The company uses a new product made in Mocksville, N.C., called USG Aqua Fiber Rock, which is both resistant to water, fire, termites, mold, mildew and 165-mph winds and saves on energy and construction costs.
ICS of Florida now has a 23,000-square-foot production facility at Eustis Commerce Park. The company employs 11 people and plans to hire more. Davis and Berg were looking for a location that would be near major highways in order to easily transport their materials all over the state. They got help from Derieth Sutton at the Metro Orlando EDC.
"She did the legwork and made it happen," Davis says. "She found our facility, which is centrally located."
Like Sumter and Lake counties, and other pockets of the Central/Space Coast region, Osceola County, United States Cold Storage, known nationwide for providing storage and transportation to the frozen and refrigerated foods industry, is building a warehouse in Poinciana Office and Industrial Park. The company, a subsidiary of The Swire Group, which has operations worldwide, expects to create 38 jobs at the new facility.
In Volusia County, DeLand Crossings at I-4 and State Road 44 is set to open in late 2006 with 300,000 square feet of space that will support about 300 jobs. Among the planned tenants are BBK Performance Parts, a California-based company that makes and distributes high-performance components for enhancing cars; and NSI Intellitec, a specialty vehicle electronics manufacturer. Plans are also in the works for industrial parks in Daytona Beach and Port Orange, and for expansions of similar businesses in Edgewater and Ormond Beach.
Bob Turk, vice president of the Business Development Partnership in Daytona Beach, doesn't expect the rush to slow down anytime soon. "Companies and site consultants are very active right now looking in this area," he says.
-- Diane Sears