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December 20, 2014

Southeast: Seizing Opportunities

Creative thinkers build on region's strengths to support new sectors and forge a prosperous future.

Jeff Zbar | 9/24/2009

Southeast Florida
Demographics for the Southeast Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
Regional Assets

Universities/Colleges
• Barry University
• Broward College
• Florida Atlantic University
• Florida International University
• Florida Keys Community College
• Florida Memorial University
• Indian River State College
• Lynn University
• Miami Dade College
• Nova Southeastern University
• Palm Beach Atlantic University
• Palm Beach Community College
• St. Thomas University
• University of Miami

Airports
• Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
International Airport
• Key West International Airport
• Marathon (Florida Keys) Airport
• Miami International Airport
• Palm Beach International Airportt

Seaports
• Port Everglades
• Port of Fort Pierce
• Port of Key West
• Port of Miami-Dade
• Port of Palm Beach

A period of economic uncertainty, when travel budgets are under the knife, hardly seems the optimal time to invest in hotels. But Keith and Kelly Kite had a different perspective.

This uncle-nephew team of Indian River County developers saw decades-old motels struggling to serve business travelers across their region. Intuitively, they knew that executives calling on the revitalized Vero Beach-based Piper Aircraft Inc. would need lodging and meeting facilities. Not to mention that families of patients in nearby hospitals like the Indian River Medical Center, which boasts a new affiliation with Duke University Medical Center for Heart Surgery, could use comfortable accommodations, too.

“Each heart surgery represents quite a few room nights,” says Kelly Kite, managing member of Kite Properties in Vero Beach, developer of the new SpringHill Suites in unincorporated Indian River County. “The fact there wasn’t a business-class property nearby to accommodate the aviation, medical and related industries drove our hotel decisions.”

The Kites pooled $22 million in investor capital and turned to Workforce Solutions and the St. Lucie County Career Center to help find some 50 employees and a dozen managers for their SpringHill property and a Hampton Inn they plan to open in 2010 in Okeechobee.

Fourth-generation Floridians who’ve lived along the “Treasure Coast” since the 1990s, the Kites are examples of home-grown entrepreneurs who saw — and seized upon — an opportunity. With business travel as a base, the Kites are certain tourism will thrive. Their SpringHill location is just three miles from the Atlantic. Two more hotels under development — including a 90-room Hampton Inn in Vero Beach, where Minor League Baseball has resurrected the old Dodgertown facility — will also benefit from area growth and help diversify the region’s employment base. “There is a great deal of promise for the area,” says Gwenda Thompson, CEO of Workforce Solutions.

Says Kelly Kite, “When we looked for a place with a steady supply of work and growth beyond tourism, we saw a lack of product in this particular market. We think our hotels will dominate the market for the foreseeable future.”

 Vero Beach developers Kelly, left, and Keith Kite are Florida-grown entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity and seized it by investing in hotels to accommodate the growing number of business travelers along Florida’s “Treasure Coast.”
[Photo: Ray Compretta]

Tags: Southeast, Business Florida

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