September 1, 2014

Business Florida 2012 - The Regions

Southwest Florida

Fort Myers, Naples, Port Charlote, Punta Gorda

Ginger Broslat | 10/10/2011
Naples
Naples is the 15th fastest growing metropolitan area in Florida and, with a median household income of $52,998, one of the state's most affluent.
[Photo: Amber Frederiksen]

With its blend of high-tech commerce and unspoiled beaches, Southwest Florida has the elements that make a relocation decision easy. Well-funded incentive programs and proactive public/private partnerships have attracted a broad range of companies in the technology, life sciences, retail and healthcare sectors to settle in Southwest Florida. Executives with companies like manufacturer JRL Ventures/Marine Concepts, healthcare purchasing group LeeSar and cancer researchers Tigris Pharmaceuticals have cited strong incentive programs, an educated workforce and a dynamic quality of life as key factors in their choice of this business destination. They have bought into the concept presented to them — When you can do business anywhere, why would you do business anywhere else but Southwest Florida?

Who Lives Here

Bell curve boomers: Southwest Florida's labor force exceeds 492,000; its population led by an interesting age demographic: Median age here is 49. This means that many workers fall between the baby boom generation with its strong, traditional work ethic and Gen Xers proficient in multitasking and technology. Employers looking to round out their talent base and bridge generational gaps benefit from this best-of-both-worlds mix.

Southwest Florida: At A Glance
Northeast Florida
Demographics for the Southwest Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.

Regional Assets

Universities/Colleges
• Ave Maria University
• Edison State College
• Florida Gulf Coast University
• Hodges University

Airports
• Punta Gorda Airport
• Naples Municipal Airport
• Southwest Florida International
? Airport

Educational support: Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers is a strong partner in the eco-nomic future of the region with innovative programs designed to train and retain a strong pool of highly skilled workers. The student body has annually increased by double digits since FGCU opened in 1997.

Economic Life

Life Sciences

» VR Laboratories is constructing a production facility in Lee County that is designed to be the world's most advanced in the fast-growing field of botanical pharmaceuticals. Using proprietary technology from the Naples-based firm HerbalScience Group and 36 fully developed medicinal and functional ingredients, VR Laboratories will manufacture and market its pharmaceutical products to foreign and domestic markets from the Southwest Florida site. "Lee County is an ideal location for our headquarters, research and manufacturing facility with its pro-business government and quality of life conducive to attracting world-class talent. The proximity of the Foreign Trade Zone at Southwest Florida International Airport is critical for our incoming and outgoing shipments," says the firm's Executive Chairman Reginald Steele.

Aerospace

» In Charlotte County, Arcadia Aerospace Industries develops state-of-the-art instrumentation and automated systems for the carbon fiber composite laminate and structural component markets. The Punta Gorda-based operation recently partnered with British company Ultrasonic Sciences LTD in order to grow through better access to software and technology.

Technological Innovation

» New product innovation in arthroscopic surgery is the heart and soul of Naples-based Arthrex Inc., which has resulted in the development of more than 5,000 products for arthroscopic and minimally invasive orthopaedic surgical procedures. In 2011, the company announced an expansion of its corporate facilities and workforce in Collier County. Plans call for construction of a new 160,000-sq.-ft. facility near Ave Maria to house biomedical and manufacturing operations.

» The Backe Chair in Renewable Energy at FCGU, established by John D. Backe of The Backe Foundation, has recently been filled by Joseph H. Simmons, Ph.D. In his new role, Simmons will be conducting research in the field of renewable energy; coordinating outreach activities, including seminars and symposia for the community about the benefits of renewable energy; supporting efforts to attract industry partners in renewable energy; and establishing an Institute for Renewable Energy Research at FGCU.

» Gartner Inc., a leader in information technology research and delivery of technology-related insights to corporations, government agencies and investors, has announced a $181-million, 20,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its facilities in Lee County. The company, which is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., employs 350 in Fort Myers.

Next page: Southwest Florida's quality of life and notable employers

Tags: Southwest, Business Florida

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