Business Florida 2021 - The Regions
Charlotte • Collier • Lee
Logistics & Transportation
Companies of every size in Southwest Florida enjoy ready accessibility to domestic and international markets. I-75 bisects the region from north to south linking distributors in these three counties to major population centers throughout the Southeast and putting five deep-water ports within a half-day’s drive. Not surprisingly, it is this very proximity to widespread markets that has helped the Southwest region establish its reputation as a leader in logistics and distribution.
Among companies that have been drawn here as a result is foodservice distributor Cheney Brothers. Headquartered in Riviera Beach on Florida’s east coast, this nearly 100-year-old family-owned and operated firm chose to site its fifth distribution center in Punta Gorda in 2015. Opened with 250,000 square feet, the facility has since expanded to 345,000 square feet and is in the process of completing an $8.6 million, 80,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its food service distribution operation. At the same time, Cheney Brothers’ success in Charlotte County has prompted one of its suppliers — Miami-based Amigo Pallets — to open its own warehouse in Punta Gorda.
Companies growing distribution capabilities in Fort Myers include:
• Online e-commerce giant Amazon, which has opened a 60,000-sq.-ft. delivery station inside a former warehouse.
• Fast-growing logistics and transportation firm Scotlynn USA, building a new 60,000-sq.-ft., $11-million headquarters with the goal of becoming a world-class leader in freight transportation and the distribution of perishable products. At least 140 new hires are expected within three years as a result, with an eventual goal of housing 350+ management and operations staff in the new facility.
And supporting this region’s logistical clout are two commercial airports:
• Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, where construction continues on an $80-million air traffic control tower. The new 200-foot tower, which replaces the existing 90-foot tower opened in 1983, features a 15,000-sq.-ft. operations building at its base. When completed in late 2022, the new tower will accommodate 40 air traffic control workers and position the airport to potentially add a second runway. Southwest Florida International, which is currently the second-busiest one-runway public airport in the nation, served a record 10.2 million passengers in 2019, a 9.1% increase over 2018 traffic.
• Punta Gorda Airport, logging 1.6 million passengers in 2019 aboard its single carrier — Allegiant — which provides nonstop air service from Charlotte County to more than 45 U.S. destinations. And new to the airport grounds in 2020: AeroGuard Flight Training Center, which opened its first East Coast campus here in January. Headquartered in Phoenix, AeroGuard provides career-focused accelerated commercial pilot training.
KEY PLAYERS: Arcadia Aerospace Industries, Punta Gorda; Cheney Brothers, Riviera Beach; Intrepid Aerospace, Fort Myers; Amazon, Seattle, Wa.
Business Services & Technology
Alta Resources, a Wisconsin-based global customer service outsourcing company, has announced plans to construct a $21-million, 90,000-sq.-ft. office building at Skyplex, the new commercial park/office project adjacent to Southwest Florida International Airport. Alta, which expanded to Fort Myers in 2013, currently has about 600 employees in Southwest Florida. The firm’s expansion to Skyplex is expected to create at least another 400 more.
Fort Myers-based CallMiner has received its largest single investment ever — $75 million. The firm, which created the software platform Eureka, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer reactions via call centers and other channels to help financial institutions and communications companies improve customer service and efficiency. CallMiner plans to use the funds to grow its customer base in the U.S., where it primarily works now, and to expand worldwide.
HVAC services firm Conditioned Air Company has moved into its newly constructed 52,710-sq.-ft. Lee/Charlotte Operations Center in Fort Myers. Founded in 1962 and headquartered in Naples, Conditioned Air currently employs 370, providing expertise in light commercial and residential HVAC systems across Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties.
KEY PLAYERS: Alta Resources, Fort Myers; ASG Technologies, Naples; Cigent Technology, Fort Myers; Gartner, Fort Myers; Zypha Corporation, Port Charlotte