April 20, 2024

Economic yearbook 2010

Treasure Coast Yearbook 2010

Are Internet companies and alternative energy firms the answer?

Mike Vogel | 4/1/2010

Port St. Lucie/ St. Lucie County

The county has closed economic incentive deals to bring nearly 2,300 jobs, of which 1,500 are in call center work paying an average of $20,000 to $39,000 per year, depending on the employer. But many of the other 800 jobs are in the likes of medical device making, digital arts and beverage distribution, paying an average of $46,500 to $65,000.

John Textor
John Textor is building his Digital Domain Holdings, a maker of movies and games, in St. Lucie County. [Photo: Steven Martine]
Person to Watch

» John Textor as of Dec. 31 had hired 21 people at an average salary of $137,143 for his Digital Domain Holdings, a new digital movie-games studio he’s creating with state and local incentives. The studio will be temporarily housed in Port St. Lucie and Indian River State College in Fort Pierce while its permanent home is under construction this year. Textor, 44, says he’s well ahead of government required benchmarks for hiring and plans full productions for later this year. “We’re very pleasantly surprised with the talent that’s in Florida and particularly surprised with the talent that’s from Florida and wants to return to Florida.”

Business to Watch

» Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute Florida, enticed with $60 million in state money to locate in Port St. Lucie, expects to have 40 to 50 investigators, administrators and support staff by midyear, up from 28 full-time investigators, administrators and support staff in January. The researcher envisions having 200 in place by 2013, when its $42.5-million facility opens. Groundbreaking is expected this month. Chief Operating Officer Mark Williams says the Florida startup already has $6 million in newly awarded and transferred grants and has applied for an additional $48 million.

The Vacine and Gene Therapy Institute (rendering) is gearing up to almost double its staff by midyear. [Rendering: VGTI]

Recovery Roadblock

Bill Pittenger
Bill Pittenger
Chief real estate economist Bill Pittenger of Seacoast National Bank in Stuart says that with the notable exception of commercial real estate, most of the real estate pain is past. The problem: Job creation. “Jobs still aren’t being created in any truly significant numbers,” Pittenger says. “As manufacturing moved overseas, construction had replaced it as the sector for blue-collar workers.” But now “most of the construction jobs probably are not going to be back either ever or for a decade. Florida’s going to look different than it did.”

Meanwhile, commercial real estate prices are down 35% in the region. “Commercial real estate is the weak link in the economy right now and in the recovery,” Pittenger says. Look for a U-shaped economic recovery. “But the bottom of the U is going to be very long.”

Okeechobee County

Business to Watch

» Shoppes on the Boardwalk, the latest multimillion-dollar endeavor of David Nunez Jr. and his wife, Anita, includes Hammerheads’ Billiards Bar & Grill, which will employ 57, two retail spaces and a martial arts school to join an already-completed office space. The couple own several Okeechobee businesses.

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