Charlotte • Collier • Lee
Energy Harness, a Cape Coral-based LED lighting maker, is garnering attention for its Active Airflow UV-C fixture, which uses UV light to kill airborne pathogens, including the COVID-19 virus. The fixture, which underwent testing at Florida Gulf Coast University, works by exposing indoor air to a large dose of high-energy UV-C light as the air passes through the device.
KEY PLAYERS: Global Tech LED, Bonita Springs; Morey Machining & Manufacturing, Fort Myers; Pelican Wire, Naples
After nearly two years of COVID-induced declining airport activity, Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers is making a comeback, setting an all-time monthly record as 1.51 million passengers traveled through the facility in March 2022. Leading the influx was Delta Airlines with 284,407 total passengers. Southwest Florida International served more than 10.3 million passengers in 2021 to remain among the top 50 U.S. airports for passenger traffic. In May 2022, Paragon Flight Training, which is based at Page Field in Fort Myers, announced a new flight training partnership in conjunction with Purdue University Global that will reduce the overall time and expense needed to earn a Bachelor of Science in professional flight.
At Punta Gorda Airport in Charlotte County, Allegiant and Sun Country provide low-cost, nonstop air services to more than 50 U.S. destinations. In 2021, the carriers served a combined passenger count of 1,569,836. And in June 2022, Charlotte Technical College’s FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technician School received $3 million from the state for a new combined hangar and classroom facility to meet growing demand for certified aircraft mechanics.
Meanwhile, in Collier County, Naples-based air-service charter company Elite Jets has added a dozen new team members, including seven pilots, to its workforce in response to increased demand from affluent business and leisure travelers. Founded in 2016, Elite Jets has grown to include a private terminal at Naples Airport consisting of three adjacent hangars and a fleet of five luxury jets — four Embraer Phenom 300s and one Embraer Legacy 500 — and recently extended its lease with the Naples Airport Authority to 2050.
More than a year after exiting bankruptcy, The Hertz Corporation continues to rebound at its headquarters in Estero with an emphasis on electric vehicles. As part of its plan to go fully electric, Hertz ordered 100,000 Teslas last fall to be delivered over 14 months. In February 2022, Hertz expanded its global electric vehicle commitment with a $19-million investment in Luxembourg-based UFODrive, the first all-digital, all-electric car rental service controlled from an app.
And settling into a new headquarters in Florida’s Southwest: Matilda Jane Clothing, a girls’ and women’s apparel business. Previously based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Matilda Jane has taken up residence in an 8,000-sq.-ft. office in Fort Myers. The firm’s CEO, Donna Noce Colaco, formerly served as president of Fort Myers-based Chico’s brand White House Black Market.
Life Sciences & Health Care
Florida’s Southwest region is served by three primary health care systems — Lee Health with five hospitals in Lee County: Lee Memorial Hospital, HealthPark Medical Center, Gulf Coast Medical Center, Cape Coral Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital; NCH Healthcare with two hospitals in Collier County: NCH Baker and NCH North Naples; and in Charlotte County, two former Bayfront Health facilities newly rebranded as Shore Point Health Port Charlotte and Shore Point Health Punta Gorda.
Currently in the planning stages:
• A new acute care facility from Lee Health, tentatively titled Lee Health Colonial Campus, will include 216 hospital beds, 16 operating rooms, an emergency department with 30 emergency room bays, a 16-bed observation unit and a medical office building. Anticipated opening date: 2027.
• In 2022, three of this region’s hospitals were cited on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals in Florida”: Lee Memorial in Fort Myers earned a No. 12 along with facilities in Miami Beach and Tampa; while Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers and NCH Baker Hospital in Naples shared No. 15 honors with a Miami facility.
Medical manufacturers are making news in this region too:
• Arthrex, a Naples-based leader in minimally invasive surgical technology, has partnered with health care safety and efficiency firm Skytron on dual-purpose products providing better patient care and increased operating room efficiency. In June 2022, Arthrex was ranked second among best places in the country for employees to grow a career in health care by LinkedIn.
• As EmCyte, a medical manufacturer, nears completion of a 13,000-sq.-ft. warehouse for medical devices, plans are in the works for exterior renovation at its headquarters in Fort Myers. Founded in 2008, EmCyte produces FDA-approved platelet plasma treatment kits which offer orthopedic patients an alternative option to traditional treatments, including surgery.
KEY PLAYERS: Arthrex, Naples; Lee Health, Fort Myers; NCH Healthcare System, Naples; NeoGenomics, Fort Myers
Southwest Florida is home to Florida Gulf Coast University, which jumped to No. 56 in 2022 among U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Regional Universities South,” and to No. 7 among “Most Innovative Schools.” Students enrolled in GCU’s Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship are especially fired up — encouraged by their professors to break from traditional college outcomes by using their degrees to create jobs instead of applying for them.
Florida SouthWestern State College is offering baccalaureate, associate and certificate programs in Punta Gorda, Naples, Fort Myers and LaBelle, plus a Corporate Training Center in Bonita Springs, where programs can be tailored to the needs of Southwest employers. Also available in the region, two private private universities — Hodges and Ave Maria.