Economic Yearbook 2006 - Treasure Coast
Florida's Treasure Coast is taking its cue from Scripps Research Institute.
With the Scripps Research Institute having settled on a location in Jupiter, the Treasure Coast is focused on workforce training issues as it prepares for a biotech growth surge. The Workforce Development Board of the Treasure Coast is offering to retrain workers and upgrade skills for the biotech industry by promoting the FAU Biotech Training Grant. It also has partnered with the state on a massive training initiative for job seekers interested in construction industry employment.
Treasure Coast home prices soared 28% last year, and new multimillion-dollar residential and retail projects are changing the landscape. "Folks are coming from down south, and Baby Boomers are coming down from the north," says Mark Seeberg, president of the Realtors Association of Indian River County. BankUnited and Colonial Bank, among others, are expanding into the area to meet the demand for new mortgages as the Treasure Coast continues its evolution from an agricultural base to one focused more on research.
But two seasons of heavy hurricane activity have blunted development, and transportation issues threaten to slow growth in some counties. Stuart continues its 25-year battle for a new bridge connecting Palm City and Stuart. "The county commission is afraid of what it calls 'Browardization,' " says Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce President Joe Catrambone. Meanwhile, Indian River County reports a breakthrough in its seven-year fight for an I-95 interchange at Oslo Road to access industrial sites in the southern part of the county.
? Okeechobee County Airport and Industrial Park Manager Vernon Gray has launched multiple initiatives since coming aboard last June. Those changes -- implementing a security plan, commissioning an Automatic Weather Observation Station and completing a lighting project -- have persuaded Fort Lauderdale's Maritime Petroleum Associates to invest $8 million in the Okeechobee Jet Center. The 36,000-sq.-ft. facility would employ up to 150 and could woo corporate aviators to the region.
? Rhode Island-based CVS will open a $60-million, 400,000-sq.-ft. warehouse and distribution center in Vero Beach, eventually employing 350.
? Coral Gables-based BankUnited is adding four branches as part of its aggressive South Florida growth plan.
? Carnival Cruise Lines opened a sales center in Fort Pierce early this year, creating 210 jobs.
? Fort Lauderdale-based Nova Southeastern University took up residence on the Treasure Coast with new nursing programs in partnership with Indian River Community College.
? Denver-based Policy Studies, which has a call center in Port St. Lucie that employs 260 and serves the state's Florida Healthy Kids program, opened a center in Fort Pierce in September 2005 that has 90 workers.