July 31, 2014

Business Florida 2014 - The Regions

Southwest Florida

Estero, Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda

| 9/27/2013

ECONOMIC LIFE

Life Sciences/Healthcare
• The University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, a fixture in Naples since 2004, has outgrown its leased space and is building a facility of its own. The new clinic will employ 30 and feature an ambulatory surgery center as well as space for treatment of ophthalmic diseases, imaging, laser vision correction and vision research. Ranked No. 1 for ophthalmology on U.S. News & World Report’s list of "America’s Best Hospitals," for 10 years in a row, Bascom Palmer treats more than 250,000 patients annually at three east coast Florida locations; another 12,000 patients are served in Naples each year.

• An artificial finger designed by Naples-based Didrick Medical for partial-finger amputees is garnering attention and winning awards. The X-Finger, which mimics the motion of a real finger without using an external power source, is already in use by military veterans and children and was a runner-up for this year’s $50,000 Cade Museum Prize. In 2009, Didrick’s X-Finger received the "Perfect Pitch Award" in an international competition for inventors and entrepreneurs sponsored by PerfectBusiness.com.

• Neo Genomics, an oncology reference laboratory providing testing technologies and education to the pathology community, plans to expand its headquarters and lab space in Fort Myers with the expectation of creating 75 new jobs.

Agribusiness
A 5,700-acre former beef cattle ranch off Highway 31 near Punta Gorda is new home to approximately 2,400 head of bison and an experiment in sustainable agriculture. Owners Rodger B. Dowdell Jr., a former manufacturing CEO, and Keith Mann acquired the bison from Midwestern farmers and ranchers who were forced to sell off their herds last summer. The two hope to make a go of raising and butchering the bison on-site, then selling the meat to health-conscious Florida consumers as an alternative to beef.

Technology
Entertainment Metals, a company engaged in custom manufacture, repair and design of technical equipment/accessories for audio-visual and broadcast needs, has relocated its headquarters to a 14,000-sq.-ft. facility near Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. The firm, which currently employs 12, plans to add another 10 jobs.

QUALITY OF LIFE

Make time for play Southwest Florida is home to sunshine — some claim 360 days of it each year — and miles of sandy beaches for snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing or just plain relaxing along the Gulf of Mexico. Arts and culture are important here too. There are symphony orchestras to enjoy in Fort Myers and Naples, plus a full complement of art galleries, museums, theaters and festivals across the region. It’s little wonder that Naples landed the No. 24 spot on TripAdvisor’s 2013 Travelers’ Choice Destination awards.

Major league fun at minor league prices While it’s still too cold and wet up north for baseball, the boys of summer are already at bat in southwest Florida. Fort Myers is spring training home to the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins; the Tampa Bay Rays train just up the road in Port Charlotte.

Go wild You only have to venture a few miles south of Naples to leave civilization pretty quickly. Collier County is home to the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, 35,000 acres set aside to protect Florida’s precious mangrove forest and the endangered wildlife it shelters. Boating and fishing are the chief activities here, but you can view some of the wildlife along a one-mile trail located just off U.S. 41.

Tags: Business Florida

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