Economic yearbook 2011
PensacolA / ESCAMBIA County
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: Compass Solar Energy — Compass Solar, providing solar power for schools and military bases, was formed after three entrepreneurs combined their solar companies into one, morphing from mainly residential and pool heating to large-scale solar electric power generation. "We've quickly expanded nationally and expect to be around $4 million in net sales this year, twice 2010," says Dan Gardner, Compass co-owner with brother Sean and Scott Arnold. Last year, 70% of sales were to the military; 50% of sales overall were in Florida. "Our biggest contract so far is at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas, which could amount to 25-30 buildings."
EMERGING STAR: IMS ExpertServices — IMS connects expert witnesses with the lawyers who need them. Its three-year, 130% growth marks its emergence as the top provider of expert witnesses in complex litigation. The company expects to grow 20% to 30% this year. "Our cases range from financial services to pharmaceutical formulations to technology disputes and everything in between," says CEO Mike Wein. IMS has 42 employees, most at its Pensacola headquarters; branch offices are in New York, Denver and Atlanta.
HEAVY HITTER: Pensacola Naval Air Station — Salaries for the 23,000 military personnel and contract employees, plus purchases by the base, amounted to $1.3 billion in 2010, up $100 million from the year before. This year, the base — the nation's oldest naval aviation facility — will help celebrate naval aviation's centennial. In 1911, the Navy approved the purchase of two stick-and-fabric flying machines that landed at what was then called the Navy Yard, prompting its christening as the "Cradle of Naval Aviation." Base construction projects for 2010-11 total some $70 million and include modernization of one of the original aviation-era buildings, for NAS headquarters.
Ashton Hayward, mayor, Pensacola — Elected Pensacola's first "strong mayor" under the city's first constitutional revision since 1931, Ashton Hayward has a vision for Pensacola that is framed by his City Hall view of the waterfront. "Look at this bay; it's one of the prettiest in the world. This place has got what you want where you live. We want people and businesses to move to our area."
Howard Liebman, CEO/founder, Smart Horizons Career Online Education —