Southeast: Seizing Opportunities
Creative thinkers build on region's strengths to support new sectors and forge a prosperous future.
Demographics for the Southeast Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
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]