April 24, 2014

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Florida's Treasure Coast

Stuart/Martin County

» Pro-growth and anti-growth sentiments are clashing again in Martin County. Three major development projects in rural Hobe Sound that required an extension of the urban services boundary triggered widespread public opposition. Some attribute the controversy to the new, no-growth makeup of the five-member Martin County Commission. After bringing their requests to the commission, the partners in the Harmony Ranch Development of Regional Impact pulled the plug on their plans for 4,000 houses and 2 million square feet of business space in March. The commissioners rejected two growth plan amendments for the Extreme Sports Water Ski Park and Hotel in July, effectively killing the project. However, the developer of Hobe Grove continues to push its proposal to build 4,300 homes and 4.5 million square feet of business and education space on agricultural land west of Florida’s Turnpike and south of Bridge Road. The developer paid almost $44 million for the 2,800-acre property in late 2011 and now awaits the results of a study on whether Martin County needs more housing.

» The area had been counting on American Energy Innovations in Stuart to boost its employment, but the company backed out of a $4-million deal with the state and Martin County because of problems with the wind and water turbine components it was manufacturing. Instead of making headway toward hiring 600 employees by 2015, the company laid off employees and changed its product line.

» Stuart’s economy will still get a boost from a new car dealership. Mario Murgado, CEO of Brickell Motors, a collection of south Florida auto dealerships, broke ground in October on an Audi and Infiniti dealership. It is expected to open by mid-2013.

Business to Watch

» H2Ocean: H2Ocean outgrew its Boynton Beach location and moved to Stuart in 2008. The manufacturer of all-natural sea salt health care products was named 2012 Small Business of the Year by the Business Development Board of Martin County. H2Ocean struck a deal with Walgreens to sell its skin and oral care products in 26 Treasure Coast locations. Prior, the company had been selling tattoo and piercing aftercare spray and moisturizer and other products through global distributors. The 30-employee company is in a 47,000-sq.-ft. facility driven by solar power. “It’s a progressive company that is very likely to keep on growing,” says Joe Catrambone, president of the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce.

Martin Population: 150,150
Population Growth Rate (2009-13): 0.96%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
13.80% 5.02% 18.05% 34.38% 28.74%
Per Capita Income: $54,291

Tags: Treasure Coast, Economic Yearbook

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