October 23, 2014

2012 Economic Yearbook

Southwest Florida Economic Indicators

Amy Keller | 4/9/2012

Bradenton/Manatee County

A number of companies say they are having trouble filling positions because they can't find enough skilled workers. To help bridge the gap, a new non-profit called CareerEdge Funders has been partnering with companies in Manatee and Sarasota counties to help them develop strategies to resolve workforce challenges. Over the past couple of years, the group has partnered with several area hospitals to provide funding for training and system changes that have helped kitchen workers, housekeepers and patient transporters move into higher-paid positions as certified nursing assistants, registered nurses and surgical technicians. The group, which receives the bulk of its funding from private foundations and employers, has also provided assistance to manufacturing firms like PGT Industries and Tervis Tumbler in neighboring Sarasota County and is in the process of helping some local insurance companies work with community colleges to create a curriculum to produce the workers they need.

The county's manufacturing sector continues to grow, meanwhile, thanks to several recent business relocations. Ipe Clip Fastener, which designs and manufactures fasteners for decks, recently relocated from South Carolina to Manatee County and plans to hire 80 employees over the next five years. Global Components has also selected Manatee for its U.S. operations and plans to create 50 jobs over the next several years. C Products Defense, which uses robotic welding units to make ammunition magazines, recently relocated from Connecticut and plans to add 100 employees over the next five years.

Businesses to Watch

Kenneth Feld
Feld Entertainment, led by Chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld, is building a new facility in Ellenton and plans to create 235 jobs. [Photo: Jeffrey Salter]

» Feld Entertainment: The company, which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and produces other shows such as Disney on Ice and Disney Live!, is spending $20 million on a new facility in Ellenton, where it plans to consolidate its headquarters and house all operations related to the design and production of its tours. The expansion will preserve 148 local jobs and create 235 new ones.

Manatee Population: 338,015
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.48%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
17.09% 5.66% 20.58% 32.89% 23.77%
Per Capita Income: $42,155

Fort Myers/Cape Coral/Lee County

Chico's
Chico's plans to add 150 jobs as it expands its headquarters in Fort Myers. [Photo: Chico's]
While construction jobs declined 8% between December 2010 and December 2011 and 62% over the past five years, there are some positive developments. Tourism is strong and December sales tax revenue reached its highest level in three years. Though unemployment remains high, several companies are expanding with the help of financial incentives from the county and state. Gartner, a global IT company, is adding 400 jobs. Women's clothing retailer Chico's recently announced a headquarters expansion that will add about 150 jobs. Newcomer VR Laboratories, a botanical pharmaceutical company, is building a production facility in Lee County that will create more than 200 jobs.

While retail vacancy rates in Lee County have fallen from 9.6% in 2009 to 8.6% in 2011, office vacancy rates have remained stuck at about 16.8% for the past three years. Gary Tasman, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield, says flat employment conditions are to blame and that office space absorption is unlikely until jobs increase. Long reliant on home building, the area is still waiting for its residential real estate market to return to health. "The economy is improving, but slowly. Like a lot of places in Florida, this real estate overhang has really ultimately got to be cleared away before we see any sort of accelerated recovery," says Jim Moore, director of the Lee County Economic Development office.

Businesses to Watch

» TZ Insurance Solution: Since locating to Lee County in early 2011, TZ Insurance Solutions has hired 141. The company, headquartered in Fort Lee, N.J., had projected it would hire 125 originally but grew faster than expected.

Lee Population: 648,082
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.48%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
16.28% 5.39% 21.85% 32.28% 24.20%
Per Capita Income: $41,237

Tags: Southwest

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