Economic yearbook 2011
Fort Myers/ Cape Coral/Lee County
Recent expansions include Algenol Biofuels — CEO Paul Woods (above) late last year announced plans to build a pilot-scale Integrated Bio-Refinery in Lee County — and Gannett Co., which announced plans to build a centralized online advertising operations department that will create 35 jobs. "If you look at the unemployment rate, we have a lot of work to do, but from our perspective, we're really trying to focus on bringing in high-value, high-wage, diverse industries," says Jennifer Berg, marketing and communications director for Lee County's Economic Development Office. [Photo: Brian Tietz]
|Lee Population: 610,405|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.06%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $39,533|
LEE COUNTY GOALS
Continue efforts to diversify the economy through the recruitment of businesses and the expansion of existing firms.
Promote the county's $25-million incentives program and other longstanding programs, to attract high-wage industries.
Support the region's tourism industry.
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: VR Laboratories — A new natural, FDA-approved botanical pharmaceutical company, VR received $5 million in financial incentives to build its headquarters in Lee County. The company plans to create 208 jobs over the next five years with an average wage of $66,850. Reginald Steele, VR's executive chairman, was previously an executive vice president with GNC.
EMERGING STAR: CallMiner — Fort Myers-based speech analytics firm CallMiner received $4 million in private venture capital and $3 million more from the Florida Growth Fund to help it expand. The company provides high-tech speech analytics software called Eureka that processes and analyzes call center recordings to extract useful information.
21st Century Oncology
[Photo: 21st Century Oncology]
HEAVY HITTER: 21st Century Oncology — 21st Century is beefing up its presence with the transfer of billing and collections facilities from another state. The Fort Myers-based company, which operates nearly 100 radiation therapy centers across the United States, received $300,000 from the county. The move will bring the company's total local headcount to close to 400 employees.
Steve Tirey, director of industry partnerships and graduate placement, Southwest Florida College — The former president and CEO of the Chamber of Southwest Florida will be in charge of the college's graduate placement activities with a focus on industry partnerships. He'll also work on brand building and governmental affairs for the school.
Arun Maheshwari, general partner, venture capital firm RisingSun Ventures — The Indian IT industry magnate who helped pioneer that nation's outsourcing industry, and his son, Amit Maheshwari, have been investing heavily in distressed real estate since moving to the Fort Myers area several years ago. Recent purchases include a 40,000-sq.-ft. office complex on Cleveland Avenue — which the Maheshwaris remodeled in part with a $50,000 grant from the city of Fort Myers — and two motels.