2012 Florida Economic Yearbook
'Dolphin Tale' (above) was filmed in Pinellas County. Other film projects include 'Spring Breakers,' 'Magic Mike' and 'Sunlight Jr.' [Photo: Warner Bros. pictures]
» Filmmaking: Pinellas County is suddenly a trendy place to make movies. First came Dolphin Tale, based on the story of Winter, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's prosthetic-tail-wearing dolphin. So far, Dolphin Tale has grossed more than $83 million at the box office and $20 million in domestic DVD sales. Other projects filming in Pinellas due to be released later: Spring Breakers, starring James Franco; Magic Mike, directed by Steven Soderbergh; and Sunlight Jr., starring Matt Dillon.
» Medical devices: Even during the recession, Pinellas has seen its medical device industry expand. Major players include Transitions Optical, Essilor, Oscor, Linvatec, Maxxim Medical, Halkey-Roberts, Cardinal Health and Florida Infusion Services. According to the Tampa Bay Partnership, 185,000 people (11% of the region's workforce) are employed in the medical technologies and services industry.
» Commercial real estate: The best that can be said about Pinellas County's industrial real estate market is that it's "bumping along the bottom" and probably won't get any worse, says Patricia Nooney, a senior managing director for CBRE in Tampa Bay. In the mid-Pinellas submarket alone, there are 2 million square feet of vacant industrial space. Pinellas' office market, buoyed by lower lease rates, looks better, although the office vacancy rate is still 22% countywide.
Businesses to Watch
» IRX Therapeutics: Backed by a major incentives package, which includes $925,000 from the state, county and the University of South Florida, plus a $275,000 land credit from St. Petersburg, the clinical stage biotechnology company must now fulfill its promise of creating 280 jobs. IRX is working on cancer treatments — particularly a drug it calls IRX-2 — and has raised $90 million to fund its work.
» National Forensic Science Technology Center: A non-profit corporation, the center offers training and other services to the justice, forensic science and defense industries. The center, which is helping attract a growing cluster of forensics businesses in Pinellas County, won a Governor's Business Diversification Award last year.
» Crystal Clear Technologies: The St. Petersburg company, which offers a variety of professional, IT and technical services to government clients, has grown to $16 million in revenue. The company moves into a larger headquarters this year.
» Progress Energy Florida: The utility has a number of major issues to deal with this year: A pending merger with North Carolina-based Duke Energy; repairing cracks at its crippled Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Citrus County; and continuing its effort to build another nuclear facility in Levy County.
People to Watch
» Glen Gilzean: Gov. Rick Scott's choice of Glen Gilzean to fill the seat of the late Lew Williams on the Pinellas County School Board surprised many, particularly since the 29-year-old had only lived in the county for a few months. Like Scott, Gilzean is an advocate of school vouchers. Gilzean will have to be a quick learner. His term runs through November.
» Paul Reilly: The CEO of St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial will work this year to assimilate Morgan Keegan & Co. Raymond James is buying the Tennessee-based brokerage for $930 million. The transaction makes Raymond James one of the country's largest wealth management and investment banking firms not based in New York City.
» Bill Foster and Stuart Sternberg: The mayor and the owner of the Tampa Bay Rays are talking again, giving hope that the Rays might stay in Pinellas County. Sternberg wants a new stadium and the mayor wants the team to honor its contract to play in Tropicana Field. After months without contact, Foster and Sternberg met cordially and promised to meet again. Meanwhile, the city will step up its promotional efforts on behalf of the team in hopes of boosting attendance.
Issues to Watch
The 'Lens' will replace St. Petersburg's iconic Pier attraction. [Photo: Michael Maltzan Architecture]
» The Pier: After debating the future of its deteriorating pier for years, the city of St. Petersburg has decided to replace the iconic inverted pyramid with a project called the Lens, a striking structure with looping bridges and a tiara-looking canopy towering over a natural reef. The budget: No more than $50 million. The community, via a series of public hearings, gets to tweak the plans, making it unlikely that construction will begin before 2013. "This is the first time in a long time that our community has had a chance to build something that looks out 50, 75 years into the future," says Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. "This next year is going to be about what kind of legacy are we going to leave."
|Pinellas Population: 932,220|
|Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.43%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $46,627|
|Pinellas County Consumer Bankruptcies|
|Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center|