Economic yearbook 2011
Southwest - Yearbook
SARASOTA / SARASOTA County
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: Jackson Laboratory — Jackson Laboratory, a Maine-based genetics research organization, is partnering with the University of South Florida, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Sarasota County and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to build a 120,000-sq.-ft. facility. Sarasota County administrator Jim Ley says the development could generate as many as 2,200 jobs by 2030. If voters approve the use of county funds, construction could begin within the year. Jackson Lab's previous attempt to build a facility in Collier County was rebuffed because many objected to its high price tag.
Bo Martinsen and Anne-Marie Chalmers, both doctors, founded Ambo Foods in Venice, which makes the Omega Cookie. [Photo: Ambo Foods]
EMERGING STAR: Ambo Foods — Dr. Bo Martinsen and Dr. Anne-Marie Chalmers, husband-and-wife co-founders of Ambo Foods in Venice, created Omega Cookie, which contains the equivalent of seven capsules worth of omega-3 fish oil, along with five grams of fiber and a dose of vitamin D and calcium. "We get fish oil from Norway, oats from Montana, orange juice from Florida, and the product is made in our factory in Sarasota," says Martinsen. Ambo Foods has increased revenue 50% since introducing Omega Cookie in 2009. The cookies — one box of 15 costs $36.75 — are sold online and at the Sarasota Farmers Market.
HEAVY HITTER: PGT Industries — In 2003, the North Venice door and window manufacturer opened a facility in Salisbury, N.C. This year, the company decided to close that plant and consolidate its operations at its Venice plant. The consolidation brings 300 jobs to Sarasota County and will create 100 more over the next five years. PGT ranked 88th in Florida Trend's list of top public companies in the state, with $166 million of revenue.
Laura Williams, director, Florida operations for the Baltimore Orioles — Last year, their first season at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, the Orioles posted the highest spring training attendance in their franchise history, with 102,219 fans attending 15 games. Laura Williams, who oversaw the team's move from Fort Lauderdale to Sarasota and the $24-million renovation of Ed Smith stadium, anticipates even higher attendance this year.
Bradley Battersby, department head, Ringling College of Art and Design's digital filmmaking program — Bradley Battersby aims to make Ringling's new digital filmmaking program one of the nation's top film schools. A film director, screenwriter, producer and cinematographer, Battersby has brought professionals such as director Werner Herzog and Amy Robinson (producer of the Meryl Streep film "Julie & Julia") to Sarasota to work with his students. The visiting guest faculty "do everything from screenings to Q&As to one-on-one workshops, and that's been an incredible success," says Battersby. He's also expanded the program's writing component, started the school's first production design courses for film and made sure students have the proper equipment at their disposal. Ringling (and the film program) recently got a boost in the form of a $1.75-million county grant to build and equip a 3,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art film and television post-production facility on campus.
R. Michael Smith, president, L-3 Aviation Recorders — The Sarasota-based division of defense contracting giant L-3 Communications — which employs about 250 locally — recently named R. Michael Smith president. The company is the world's leading manufacturer of aerospace flight data and cockpit crash-protected recorders. The FAA recently approved a lightweight data recorder manufactured by L-3.