April 24, 2014

Economic yearbook 2011

Treasure Coast - Yearbook

Mike Vogel | 4/1/2011

Okeechobee County

Okeechobee Population: 41,080
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.65%
Population by Age:
0-14
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
21.0% 6.7%
27.1% 29.3% 15.9%
Per Capita Income: $25,957

Royal Concrete Concepts
Royal Concrete Concepts has hired 51 since January. [Photo: Royal Concrete Concepts]

Unemployment in Okeechobee County remains high but is down markedly from its 14.9% peak in August. Tourism and agriculture remain the mainstays of the economy, and the weather this year has affected both: Cold weather harmed the crops but also drove northerners south. West Palm Beach modular home builder Royal Concrete Concepts has hired 51 employees since the beginning of the year, most of them in Okeechobee, where it has an 85-employee plant that makes concrete walls and roofs and entire units for schools, commercial buildings and homes. Royal expects to start shipping the first of 200 homes to Angola in the second quarter and hire 150 to make them.

Brian Cartland
Brian Cartland
The county, meanwhile, is spending $3 million in mostly federal money to upgrade facilities at the county airport. "Several good projects are eyeing Okeechobee, so look for some positive announcements by the middle of 2011," says Brian Cartland, executive director of the Business Development Board of Okeechobee.

Reality Bites

Building Permits -
Okeechobee County

2006
4,791
2007
3,557
2008
2,336
2009 2,402
2010
1,712
"Very few bright spots on the Treasure Coast. We are technically in recovery, have been since the third quarter of 2009, technically, but it is very slow, very painful. The residential market is still seriously impaired. In St. Lucie County, for example, 62% of mortgages are under water, fourth-highest in the nation. Osceola County is second-highest. We continue to struggle. It's a very sad state of affairs. We're going to be at least '12 before we start seeing anything. It's going to be '14 before employment gets back to a more normal level. The new normal is going to be in the 6.5%-7% range. Not real optimistic. I think we are going to lag on the Treasure Coast for a little bit for many of the reasons that were our strengths in the past.

Okeechobee County Foreclosures

2000
150
2001
161
2002
175
2003
167
2004
170
2005
150
2006
152
2007
272
2008
460
2009
617
2010
410
We were so dominated by construction ... and also retirement, retirement housing and growth for retirement. Many of the people from our feeder markets in the Northeast and Midwest are also unable to sell their houses."

— Bill Pittenger, president, chief economist / JVI Appraisal Division, Lake Mary

Tags: Treasure Coast

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