Growing technology cluster draws R & D facilities to economical, accessible Tampa Bay region.
Sarasota & Manatee Counties
On the Grow: Since 1996, Sarasota-based PPi Technologies Global has been making environmentally friendly, stand-up pouches for drinks — “the shot without the glass” — as well as the machinery to fill those pouches.
PPi has 35 employees and, in 2008, moved into its new 15,000-square-foot training plant and showroom on Northgate Boulevard across from its manufacturing facility. This is PPi’s fifth expansion in 14 years, and the company gets lots of help from local government and economic development officials, says Charles Murray, CEO of the privately held firm.
“We have lot of clients from up north, and Sarasota gives us a tremendous opportunity during the long northern winters. We have visitors here 150 days a year, and they love it,” says Murray, noting that getting to and from Sarasota is easy, via the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, which serves more than 1.6 million passengers annually.
New Downtown Face: In July 2008, Sarasota city commissioners gave the go-ahead to a $1-billion mixed-use real estate development project that could change the face of downtown Sarasota. The Proscenium project, which is proposed to encompass more than six acres on two city blocks, will include some 200 upscale condominiums, a luxury hotel and an 800-seat theater, plus office space and shops. Slated completion date is 2011.
More Manatee Expansion
Manufacturers find the right business environment.
» Pierce Manufacturing, the Wisconsin-based maker of fire trucks and other rescue apparatus, is expanding production of its Medtec ambulance line at the company’s Bradenton facility. Pierce will add about 140 more employees over two years, growing to about 450 employees in all.
» Orbeco-Hellige Inc., a manufacturer of instruments for testing water and wastewater, is relocating from Long Island to a 15,000-square-foot facility in Bradenton. Company President Brad Martell cited low costs, reasonably priced homes and proximity to Port Manatee as reasons for choosing the new site.
A Supportive Climate: Local officials on both sides of the line between Sarasota and Manatee counties work to keep the business climate energized. Consider, for example, Sun Hydraulics Corporation, a leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance hydraulic cartridge valves and manifolds. The company is headquartered in Sarasota, with facilities and 600 employees in both Sarasota and Manatee counties. In the coming years, Sun expects to grow its facilities in Manatee County and, in anticipation of the estimated 170 new jobs that will result, from the $25-million expansion, both counties have pledged $102,000 each in tax incentives.
Combining Forces: Manatee and Sarasota counties are partnering to pursue computer software, health and life science businesses, too. The area is already home to several biotech entities, including the U.S. subsidiary of Haemacure Corporation in Sarasota. The Canadian-based specialty bio-therapeutics company has built a new 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Manatee, including a clean room.
In Sarasota, the nonprofit Roskamp Institute is dedicated to finding cures for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. Roskamp is home to Florida’s first three-year neuroscience Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders research doctorate program, a partnership with England’s Open University.