April 24, 2014

North Central: Fueling the Future

Focus on alternative energies and technology bodes well for growth in this dynamic region.

Ginger Broslat | 9/24/2009

OCALA/MARION COUNTY

Home-grown success: Intellon, world leader in consumer-friendly “no more wires” technology using integrated circuits (ICs) to interconnect home entertainment and business systems, is adding 10 new positions with average annual salaries of $100,000. The company’s continued growth on a site adjacent to the new branch of the Pensacola-based Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) makes downtown Ocala an attractive location for similar high-tech companies.

“We’re the best-kept secret out there,” says Intellon’s CEO Charlie Harris. “We are world leaders at what we do .... Our ICs enable people to move audio and video throughout their homes without stringing additional wires.”

Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, Intellon has sold more than 36 million ICs — nearly 12 million in 2008 alone. At a time when many companies are struggling to survive, Intellon is experiencing phenomenal growth, posting a 44% increase in revenues from 2007 to 2008.

Ocala’s proximity to the University of Florida in Gainesville allows Intellon to tap into some of the best and brightest talent available. Many of the students who have participated in co-op programs have subsequently joined Intellon’s full-time professional staff. Quality of life is one reason they stay.

Says Senior Engineer Adil Hussain, “I really enjoy the beauty of the area and the many outdoor activities available, but it’s also so close to Orlando and Tampa that you have access to everything.”

Likewise, CFO Brian McGee has lived all over the world, but loves calling Ocala home. “It’s great here. Outdoor activities like golf and tennis are great, but it’s the depth of our friendships and relationships that we really enjoy.”

More high-tech growth: City and county governments and Enterprise Florida are partnering with defense contractor Lockheed Martin in an $11-million expansion of its Ocala plant, a project that will add 125 high-wage jobs. Named 2008 Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturers Association of Florida, Lockheed Martin’s Ocala facility manufactures electronic assemblies for commercial, defense and space applications and performs assembly and testing for various Missiles and Fire Control programs.

Girl with horseFrom Waste to Wattage

Talented individuals throughout this region are working with corporations, or singly as entrepreneurs, to help spawn true alternative energy solutions:

» In Florida’s horse country (Marion County), the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) is partnering with MaxWest Environmental Systems to design, build and operate a renewable energy facility that turns horse waste and other biodegradables into electricity. A $2.5-million grant from the Florida Energy and Climate Commission will be used toward the purchase of equipment for the facility that is expected to turn approximately 50,000 tons per year of stall waste and 50,000 tons per year of wood and organic waste into 10.5 megawatts of renewable energy. The project will create at least 24 permanent employment opportunities in the area’s $3.5-billion horse industry

» Entrepreneurs Chris Morrison and Bruce Chovnic of Planet Green Solutions in Fairfield have developed a biomass gasification system for individual horse farm owners. The process will turn the farm’s stall waste into electricity to run the farm. Any excess power generated can be sold back to the electric utility through the existing grid system.

» The City of Gainesville and Gainesville Regional Utilities have entered into an agreement with American Renewables to convert yard, forest and pulp wood plant waste into electricity. The company’s planned 100-megawatt biomass plant in Alachua County is expected to cost $400-$500 million and will create as many as 350 temporary and 45 permanent jobs.

Tags: North Central, Business Florida

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