Economic yearbook 2010
Are Internet companies and alternative energy firms the answer?
Vero Beach/Indian River County
One of Florida’s wealthier counties, thanks to a high proportion of investment income, Indian River also has one of the state’s highest unemployment rates. Construction remains moribund. The outlook for one of the region’s larger employers, plane maker Piper, remains cloudy. But Indian River County Chamber of Commerce economic development director Helene Caseltine reports interest in the county from internet companies and, because of plenty of available land, alternative energy firms. The county’s ace-in-the-hole: Second homes. “The CEO who comes calling on us has a second home here,” Caseltine says.
Person to Watch
» Stuart C. Woodward’s software company, OcuCue in Vero Beach, has a unique IT product: Software that lets people — technical or otherwise — monitor their IT networks’ status with visual icons. The longtime county resident started the year with eight employees at OcuCue. The company is on its way to 25.
Business to Watch
» Fast-growing SpectorSoft, a Vero Beach maker of software that enables companies to monitor employee computer usage, plans to hire 15 to 20 this year. “We are excited by the prospects of a return to the growth rates we experienced in ’05 and ’06,” says CFO Larry Thompson. Though businesses heavily scrutinize all purchases when money is tight, the company is counting on increased exposure and on marketing the benefits of watching workplace computer use, Thompson says.
Tim Girard, CEO of Girard Equipment [Photo: Matt Dean]
» Tim Girard, CEO of Girard Equipment, moved his third-generation family business to Vero Beach in 2008 from New Jersey, where high property and income taxes, onerous laws and the high cost of living and labor turned him off. His company makes pressure relief vents and other hardware for containers carrying hazardous liquids and also makes tanker trucks. “When I had a good year, I was giving a good portion of it to New Jersey.” It was likewise hard on employees. “Between gas, tolls and taxes, there wasn’t much for them to take home. It is a very expensive place to live.” He employs 28 in Vero Beach, the company’s manufacturing hub, and has offices in New Jersey, Chicago, London, Beijing and Rotterdam. His parents lived in Jupiter and he had vacationed in Florida since he was a boy. “I’ve had kind of an affinity for Florida my whole life.” Several years ago, he and his wife drove north from Jupiter to look at the towns and took a shine to Vero. He bought a condo in 2003. He found the chamber supportive: “They rolled out the red carpet for me. They were instrumental in getting me down here. It’s only getting better.”