2012 Economic Yearbook
Manufacturing shows promise in Sarasota and Bradenton while strong job growth and a declining inventory of homes for sale provide a ‘flicker of light’ in Naples.
Issues to Watch
» Local merchants have been squaring off with the city over an ambitious improvement project to make Main Street more pedestrian-friendly. A major point of contention: The city's plan to convert a number of angled parking spaces to parallel spots to allow for the widening of sidewalks. While several restaurants favor the change because it would create space for outdoor dining, a number of shop owners have objected, saying the resulting decrease in parking spots would hurt their businesses.
Sam Shake is president and CEO of BioLife, maker of WoundSeal. The company is expanding beyond Florida. [Photo: Mark Wemple]
» Manufacturing: Tervis Tumbler, a manufacturer of insulated cups, has more than tripled its revenue and workforce over the past three years. The company secured licensing agreements with Disney and professional sports leagues such as the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL and doubled its production capacity last year. Sun Hydraulics is planning a $16-million expansion that will include 60,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 16,000 square feet of additional office space. The company designs and makes high-performance hydraulic cartridge valves and manifolds.
» Community banks: While the pace of bank failures has slowed considerably, undercapitalized community banks are struggling. Sarasota's Sabal Palm ended 2011 with a net loss of $490,000, and Bradenton-based First America reported a 2011 net loss of $3.1 million. The Bank of Commerce in Sarasota reported the largest loss at $8.12 million. Bauer Financial gave the Bank of Commerce zero stars, the lowest rating for financial health.
Businesses to Watch
» FCCI Insurance: The Sarasota property and casualty insurer, which ranks 51st among private companies in Florida Trend's ranking of companies based on revenue, is expanding into Maryland and Texas this year and has also applied for licenses in Louisiana and Arkansas.
» Sunovia Energy Technologies: After failing to get a foothold in the solar industry, Sunovia has shifted its focus to producing LED lighting. Erich Hofer, a Sunovia board member, has replaced Art Buckland as CEO following Buckland's ouster in January, and the company has hired VM5 Ventures, a lighting industry consulting firm, to help the company build its brand and presence in the lighting industry.
People to Watch
Software entrepreneur Jesse Biter is recruiting high-end tenants for retail space he's purchased in downtown Sarasota. [Photo: Rachel S. O'Hara/The Sarasota Observer]
» Jesse Biter: The software entrepreneur has big plans for downtown Sarasota. The 35-year-old millionaire is purchasing 11,000 square feet of retail space along Palm Avenue and is recruiting high-end tenants that will stay open late and, he hopes, create a bustling nightlife. He also purchased the old Century Bank building in downtown Sarasota from the FDIC and is rehabbing it to serve as an incubator for technology startups. On the political front, Biter is serving as state director for Rick Santorum's campaign for president.
» Randall Reid: The new county administrator, who held the same position in Alachua County for 12 years, replaces Jim Ley, who resigned in May following revelations of widespread problems in the way the county handled contracts.
» Jeanne Corcoran: The director of the Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office since 2007 has helped to invigorate Sarasota's boutique film industry. Under Corcoran's leadership, the county has attracted film projects that have generated close to $9 million in direct spending over the past 4½ years.
|Sarasota Population: 388,356|
|Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.73%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $58,916|
|MSA||Dec. 2011||Dec. 2010||% Change||Jobless Rate|
|Cape Coral/Fort Myers||243,805||241,175||+1.1%||10.2%|
|Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation|
|Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales|
|MSA||2011 Sales||1-Year Change||2011 Price||1-Year Change|
|Fort Myers/Cape Coral||14,134||-7%||$107,100||+15%|
|Source: Florida Realtors; year-end sales, median price|
|Sarasota County Consumer Bankruptcies|
|Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center|