Business Florida 2011 - The Regions
Easy access and exceptional quality of life draw diversity of companies to vibrant Tampa Bay.
Growing high-tech cluster
SRI International officially opened its new 37,000-square-foot marine technology research facility on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg in December 2009. Housing approximately 100 researchers and staff, the facility is devoted to cutting-edge R&D in marine science and technology with the goal of finding commercial applications for port security, algae blooms, aquaculture and other marine challenges. California-based SRI chose St. Petersburg in order to be near the renowned College of Marine Science and Center for Ocean Technology at the University of South Florida (USF).
Cambridge, Mass.-based Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. opened two facilities in the region in November 2009 — a BioMEMS R&D Center at USF in Tampa and a Multichip Module Center in St. Petersburg — and engineers, researchers, technicians, administrators and support staff are being hired as needed. To date, 30 of the total anticipated 165 available positions have been filled.
Getting in, getting around
A 2009 study by the Tampa Bay Partnership, the regional economic development organization representing Tampa Bay’s eight counties, reveals that 394 foreign-owned companies have 824 locations in the region, of which 135 are U.S. headquarters. Collectively, they employ more than 37,000 workers and have sales of $13.6 billion. Multi-modal transportation connections are among the assets that bring international firms to Tampa Bay.
Three deepwater ports — Port Manatee, Port of St. Petersburg and Port of Tampa — keep people and cargo flowing smoothly into and out of the region. The Port of Tampa has completed an expansion of its cargo terminal from 25 to 40 acres and a $390-million construction project to connect the main access point with Interstates 4 and 75 is slated for completion in 2013 to coincide with the increased port activity expected as a result of Panama Canal expansion. At Port Manatee — closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the Panama Canal — Berth 12 and its adjacent channel have been newly enlarged to accommodate Panamax-sized vessels.
Close to 17 million passengers and more than 175 million pounds of cargo passed through this region’s busiest commercial airport — Tampa International — in 2009. In addition, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International and Sarasota Bradenton International connect Tampa Bay to dozens of international and domestic destinations. Projects under way at Inverness and Crystal River airports in Citrus County to improve lighting and lengthen runways are aimed at accommodating small corporate jets.
Ridin’ the rails
The dream of high-speed, intercity passenger rail in Florida will soon be reality thanks, in part, to a $1.25- billion grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money, awarded to Florida in early 2010, will be used to initiate service between Tampa and Orlando along 84 miles of new track laid in the median of I-4 and along the Beachline Expressway. The proposed bullet train will carry riders on 16 round trips between the two cities per day of approximately one hour each at speeds reaching 168 miles per hour. Completion is anticipated in 2014. A second phase — high-speed rail between Orlando and Miami — could be completed as early as 2017.
Also under consideration in the region: a light rail system linking downtown Tampa to Tampa International Airport, USF’s main campus and northern Hillsborough County.
Mid-sized manufacturers are finding success in Tampa Bay, too.
Swiss cigar importer Oettinger Davidoff chose an existing facility in Pinellas Park for its U.S. headquarters for two reasons: Tampa Bay’s rich tradition in the cigar industry and the ready availability of the right site. Oettinger Davidoff tobacco products are rolled by workers at plants in?the Dominican Republic and Honduras. The company’s newly acquired 100,000-square-foot site in Florida will serve as a combination corporate headquarters, warehouse and distribution center; plans call for hiring 90 workers at average annual wages of $55,000.
Tampa’s cigar making history drew Oettinger Davidoff.
Micro Matic, the Danish manufacturer of beverage dispensing equipment, plans to add 32,000 square feet to its existing 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Hernando County Corporate Airpark in Brooksville. The expansion will allow Micro Matic USA to consolidate its Florida, Nevada and California operations under one roof and increase its staff by 20 over the next two years.
Mustang Vacuum Systems will?add 125 jobs over the next three years at its new 50,000-square-foot facility in the Sarasota Commerce Center. The company, which specializes in the production of the thin coating material used on everything from eyeglasses to the tops of vacuum cleaners, received a $184,000 grant from the State College of Florida and the Manatee Economic Development Council?to train the new employees, including welders, IT specialists, electricians, scientists and others.
Cellyne, manufacturer of household paper products, has added new machinery at its Haines City headquarters in Polk County to meet increased demand for its products; 25 new jobs will be created as a result.