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June 24, 2018

Economic yearbook 2009

Treasure Coast Yearbook 2009

With housing at a standstill, a diversification effort forges ahead.

Mike Vogel | 4/1/2009
Who's Hiring
» Liberator Medical Holdings in Stuart plans to add 50 jobs.
» Despite being investigated for allegedly trying to defraud the federal government, Liberty Medical is hiring 800, mostly for call-center jobs.

Stuart / Martin County

“We were flying high, but the bottom has fallen out.” That’s the dismal summation from Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Catrambone. Custom builders who wouldn’t touch a remodeling job now are eager to have the work. Banks say they can’t afford their chamber dues. The unemployment rate, 9.6%, is double that of a year ago. Housing starts are down to a trickle. John and Barbara O’Brien’s Gulfstream Aluminum & Shutter in Stuart was planning a 5,000-sq.-ft. addition, but they put it on hold “until we see what this economy is doing.” Two years ago, they employed 100; now, 45.

Shirley Pomponi
Shirley Pomponi, executive director of the Harbor Branch Oceangraphic Institute in Fort Pierce, is overseeing a $45-million renovation of
the institute.
[Photo: Deborah Silver]

People to Watch

» From the five-person Stuart office of their 6-year-old Shelter Structures, Patty Smail and her husband, Charly, develop and sell custom-designed, fabric-covered steel-frame buildings. The structures are in use in south Florida quarries and Libyan oilfields; two serve as an Air Force hangar in Kuwait. The company brings in $2.5 million in annual revenue. “End of last year, everything stopped (but) the calls are happening again,” says Patty Smail.

Business to Watch

» Liberator Medical Holdings in Stuart, a direct-to-consumer supplier to Medicare-eligible seniors, will add 50 jobs to its existing 100 as it expands its headquarters and call center in Stuart. Liberator turned a $376,766 profit in the first quarter on $5.45 million in revenue. CEO Mark Libratore, 58, founded Liberty Medical, which he sold to PolyMedica in 1996.

Tags: Treasure Coast

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Brevard Zoo releases sea turtles
Brevard Zoo releases sea turtles

Sea turtles Skipper and Ginny were released Thursday, June 21, 2018 after recovering from medical problems at the Brevard Zoo. (There is no audio track on this video from the Brevard Zoo.)

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