Southeast Florida Roundup
Port St. Lucie and business recruiting
The early returns are in on Port St. Lucie’s latest attempt to build the job-rich business core its founders, the Mackle brothers, failed to include when they created the community decades ago.
In June 2018, Port St. Lucie took over 1,123 acres from Tradition Land. The company, struggling to recover after the Great Recession, had succeeded in selling off its residential land but found no suitable takers for its large commercial tract, dubbed the “Jobs Corridor” along I-95.
Rather than see the acreage wind up in a tax-bill auction, the city took title along with responsibility for repaying the debt it underwrote for the development, which it was on the hook for anyway.
“If we’re going to have to carry it, we might as well control our destiny,” says Mayor Greg Oravec.
Electric wholesaler City Electric Supply has broken ground on a 400,000-sq.- ft. facility consolidating other sites and hiking its projected employment to 277. Surgical instrument maker Oculus Surgical is at work on a $7-million, 55,000-sq.-ft. facility, which will employ 79.
The Legislature this year provided money to extend the loop road to open more of the acreage to development. Oravec says the city is working on additional recruitment projects.
Even so, plenty of land remains available and many more jobs are needed. Says Oravec, “We’ve got decades worth of work.”
Jupiter aquaculture company Algafeed will add 40 jobs to its existing 13. The company grows microalgae used as feed at shrimp, shellfish and fin fish farms. Algafeed’s licensed technology allows algae to be grown to custom order and delivered live, which increases shrimp and clam yields.
“Algafeed’s breakthrough technology to produce 100% live, high-density, high-volume microalgae is breaking industry barriers that have existed for decades,” CEO Scott D. Hollingsworth says.
- Davie-based Nova Southeastern University laid off 101 because of declining enrollment.
- The Aspen Institute awarded Indian River State College in Fort Pierce and Miami Dade College its biannual $1-million Aspen Prize for the nation’s best community college. Indian River was recognized for its strong student guidance program and its 17 bachelor’s programs, giving access to a four-year degree to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend distant universities.
- Plantation-based augmented reality computing company Magic Leap raised another $280 million — this time from Japanese mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo — and says it wants to raise more. It’s raised $2.5 billion to date. NTT DoCoMo becomes Magic Leap’s exclusive telecom partner in Japan as the two companies work to create an immersive media platform using the next generation of Magic Leap technology and NTT’s 5G network.
- Fort Lauderdale private jet digital booking service JetSmarter was sold in an equity swap to Dubai-based private jet company Vista Global.
- Hong Kong-based Techtronic Industries, whose brands include Ryobi, Hoover, Dirt Devil and Milwaukee, will move its U.S. headquarters and 75 jobs to downtown Fort Lauderdale from Maryland by the start of the third quarter.
- Developer and Palm Beach resident Robert V. Matthews, 61, pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, money laundering and tax charges related to his Palm House hotel-condo renovation project on Palm Beach. Matthews allegedly defrauded foreign EB-5 investors and others. His wife, Maria “Mia” Matthews, pleaded guilty to tax evasion. The government says that the Matthews used the money to pay their credit card debts and buy property in Connecticut rather than develop the condo project.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge to announce formation of a task force of academics to lead cleanup of blue-green algae from Lake Okeechobee and downstream waterways.
- Jupiter Medical Center opened its Mastroianni Family Pediatric Emergency Department. Adjacent to the adult ER, the facility includes kid-focused waiting areas, eight treatment rooms with TVs and mobile gaming, two triage rooms and an orthopedic room to fast-track orthopedic injuries. The Mastroianni Family Foundation donated $3 million for the project. Since opening its De George Pediatric Unit in 2016, the medical center has seen a 30% increase in pediatric ER visits.
Read more in Florida Trend's July issue.
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