by Art Levy
Updated 4 yearss ago
Economic development officials are pushing for new clusters in applied medicine and human performance; high-tech electronics and instruments; business, financial and data services; and marine and environmental activities.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY GOALS
Continue to lobby for a high-speed rail link between Tampa and Orlando, despite Gov. Rick Scott's decision.
Keep the Tampa Bay Rays in the Tampa area without being perceived as trying to lure the team away from St. Petersburg. Robert J. Rohrlack Jr., president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, says a chamber caucus group is studying how other cities have funded sports facilities without using public money. He stresses: "This is not a grab for the Rays by Tampa."
Attract more international flights at Tampa International Airport.
|MSA||DEC. 2010||DEC 2009||% Change||Jobless Rate|
|Lakeland/ Winter Haven||240,229
|Tampa/St. Pete/ Clearwater||1,147,049||1,143,134||+0.3%||12.0%|
|Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation
|Homes Single-family, existing-home sales by Realtors|
|MSA||Jan. 2011 Sales||1-Year Change||Jan. 2011 Price||1-Year Change|
||1,911||+19%||$110,000||-16%||Source: Florida Realtors|
|Hillsborough Population: 1,228,245|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.22%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $37.143|
At a February gathering of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, member companies were polled about their hiring plans. Twenty-three reported 200 immediate openings. The firms anticipate filling another 150 jobs later this year. "We're hearing and reading about particularly smaller existing faster-growing companies that are starting to bring some people on," says Stuart Rogel, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership. Daniel Herman (above) was recently hired at Haneke Design in Tampa. [Photo: Mark Wemple]
Tampa / hillsborough County
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: Joey Redner, owner, Cigar City Brewing — Redner's Cigar City Brewing sold its first bottle of beer in March 2009. In 2010, it sold 3,500 barrels. This year, Redner expects to sell 9,000 barrels or more. Redner, 38, started with two employees, including himself, and is now up to 32.
EMERGING STAR: Greg Murtagh, founder/CEO, Triad Retail Media — In January, Greg Murtagh's Tampa-based Triad Retail Media won a contract to manage all of the on-site display advertising for eBay. Now, when people search eBay for "fashion," they won't see typical banner ads when their results come up. Rather, they'll see ads tailored for someone interested in fashion, such as ads for make-up and shampoo. They also might see a video on fashion trends. "I've kind of tended to be about four years ahead of the market," he says. "It's painful at the beginning because people don't know what the hell you're talking about, but now what we do is the hottest thing."
HEAVY HITTER: John Zettel, CEO, AVI-SPL — Even before it merged with its nearest competitor in 2008, the company that evolved into AVI-SPL was still the largest provider of audio video systems and related services in the world. Now, says CEO John Zettel, "we're about 3½ times larger than our nearest competitor." Last year, he says, the company grew 17%. This year, he expects it to grow about the same. He sees growth potential from improvements in video-teleconferencing technology.
Helda Rodriguez, president/co-founder, NovaCharge — As an entrepreneur "looking for the next right opportunity," Helda Rodriguez didn't have to look far. She was already an angel investor in a California company that makes Coulomb ChargePoint Network charging stations for electric cars. She formed NovaCharge in Tampa to distribute the stations in Florida and the entire Southeast. NovaCharge, which now has 50 charging stations in Florida, plans to have more than 400 by the end of the year, Rodriguez says.
George Gordon, CEO, Enporion — Enporion's rapid growth and potential for more led GrowFl, a statewide economic gardening program, to name the e-procurement software firm a "company to watch." Gordon, who sees growth potential in public sector work, employs 22 but hopes to grow to about 60 within two years.
Brian Sanders, president/COO, i9 Sports — Brian Sanders joined the Brandon-based youth sports league franchiser two years ago with a simple directive: Grow the company. The franchise, which operates under an "everyone plays and everyone has fun" philosophy, has 130 locations and plans to add up to 24 this year. Within five years, Sanders expects to total 500.
St. Petersburg/ Pinellas County
|Pinellas Population: 915,770|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.08%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $43,256|
PINELLAS COUNTY GOALS
Focus on helping local businesses generate jobs, rather than trying to lure companies to relocate to Pinellas.
Develop plans for light rail, an express bus line or other options that would link St. Petersburg to the Gateway area, Clearwater and across the bay to Tampa.
Keep tourism atop the priority list. Economic development officials say tourism helped carry the local economy during the recession.
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: CoreRx — When Larry Kangaloo, director of technical business development, joined Largo-based CoreRx two years ago, the pharmaceutical maker had eight employees. Now it has 22 and has plans to add another 33 after it moves from Tampa to a larger facility in Largo this year. Kangaloo, 48, says this is a good time to be in CoreRx's business. As larger pharmaceutical companies look to downsize and cut costs, they're outsourcing work to CoreRx and its competitors, including many in India and China. "We're an American company and we do quality work, which is helping us capture business," he says.
Katee Tully (above), executive director of the Morean Arts Center, helped build a home for the Chihuly Collection, which includes more than $6 million worth of glass art by Dale Chihuly. The facility opened last summer along Beach Drive, not far from the new $36-million Salvador Dali Museum. [Photo: Mark Wemple]
EMERGING STAR: Lakeside Occupational Medical Centers — With 16 locations from Pinellas County to Orange County, Lakeside Occupational Medical Centers has the most occupational medicine clinics in the state. The Largo chain, founded by Dr. Richard Johnson, typically focuses on treating employees of the companies or municipalities it has contracts with, but CEO Fred Nussbaum says the company is planning a move into the "urgent care" market, which would open its clinics to the public. He envisions new locations in Pasco and Manatee counties, as well as Jacksonville, Miami and West Palm Beach. "We would expect within the next couple of years to double in size," Nussbaum says.
HEAVY HITTER: America II Electronics — President Jim Magee is thinking 2011 is going to be a good year, which is why he has St. Petersburg-based America II Electronics, one of the world's largest independent distributors of semiconductors and other electrical components, in hiring mode. "We're investing because we think the second half of the year will be pretty robust," Magee says. "With that being said, 2010 was the second-best year in the history of America II." The company sells globally — it's a big player in China, Singapore and Japan — and Magee says it's also a big player in Florida's economy: "We tend to bring jobs and revenue into the state through point of sale because a lot of the things we sell globally are purchased by our Florida sales teams and then sold and shipped out of this location."
Chris Steinocher, president/CEO, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce — Chris Steinocher has 25 years of experience in economic development, coming to the chamber post after serving as COO of the Tampa Bay Partnership. Steinocher plans to build on what St. Petersburg already has, including its impressive marine sciences cluster. "Economic developers always talk about clusters," he says. "Well, we've been blessed with a real cluster that other communities would love to have."
Daniel James Scott, associate director, Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation Alliance, USF St. Petersburg College of Business — Within eight months of joining the alliance at USF St. Petersburg, the 32-year-old co-founded a business accelerator program, created a series of networking breakfasts for students and entrepreneurs and became associate editor of the Journal of Business & Entrepreneurship. He's just getting started. "We want to have massive economic impact for St. Petersburg and the region," Daniel James Scott says.
Thomas Osypka, president/CEO, Oscor — Oscor, a Palm Harbor medical device maker, is adding 70 jobs and beefing up its research and development efforts. The company's growth stands out in Pinellas County's already robust medical device industry, which includes Linvatec and Halkey-Roberts. Thomas Osypka says the company considered other communities to expand, but ultimately chose Pinellas because it's a "great fit."
Lakeland / polk County
|Polk Population: 599,856|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.13%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $32,620|
Unemployment is still too high, says Steve Scruggs, executive director of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, but Polk County's economy is still looking a lot better than it did in 2010. "The last four to five weeks have been great for us," Scruggs says. "We've got about nine projects we're working on right now. This is the busiest we've been in a long time — two years I would say."
Greg Ruthven, president of The Ruthvens, a real estate and development firm in Lakeland, says he's "happy to kiss 2010 goodbye."
"From August to November last year, the phone was dead, but we have seen a dramatic pickup since the first of the year," Ruthven says. "We signed a lease every day the first week in January, and I don't sign leases five days a week very often. I think we're finally starting to spin out of the recession."
Other positive signs: The planned opening this year of Legoland Florida on the site of the old Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven and the continued development of USF Polytechnic in Lakeland. Claudia Tritton, the economic council's business development director, says another "positive indicator" is Publix announcing plans to double the size of a 550,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in west Lakeland.
|Pasco Population: 494,690|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.86%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $28,915|
John Hagen, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, says businesses are positioning themselves to grow as the economy improves this year. Some promising companies to watch include Dais Analytic, Pharmaworks, FreightCenter, The Launch Pad and Web Direct Brands. To help them grow, Hagen says the council is stepping up its economic gardening initiatives, including working to establish a "revolving loan fund" for companies needing money to expand and create jobs. "As the economy turns around, growth is going to be coming to Pasco County, just as it was growing before the recession," Hagen says. "As long as we get our business regulatory environment in order — how we manage permits and zoning — we think we're going to see strong growth here."
|Hernando Population: 180,381|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.65%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $30,259|
Accuform Signs, a manufacturer of signs and safety cones, plans to add 30,000 square feet of space and 20 workers this year, with the potential for more. "It's our expectation that business will continue to grow and, as it does, we will adjust our staffing levels accordingly," says Brad Montgomery, Accuform's marketing and communications director. Valerie Pianta, an economic development supervisor with the Hernando County Office of Business Development, says the county is hoping to lure more high-tech manufacturers to Hernando this year. She adds that the county hopes to leverage a new $3-million control tower planned for the Hernando County Airport to attract more aviation-related businesses.
Brad Montgomery, marketing and communications director for Accuform Signs
|Citrus Population: 145,471|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.99%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $31,191|
John Siefert, executive director of the Citrus County Economic Development Council, says the county added 140 jobs during the last three months of 2010. Notable companies that have been growing, he says, include Covanta, Sibex, F.D.S. Disposal and the Technology Conservation Group. Meanwhile, Siefert says the county will keep working to be "business friendly" by streamlining the permitting process and introducing an incentives program that gives 10 years of property tax relief to companies that add jobs.