Regional Roundup

By Beau Denton August 31, 2010


Illinois Company to Finish

Port Manatee Expansion

Port Manatee has selected Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. for the port’s Berth 12 dredging project. The $14.8 million contract calls for extending Berth 12 to 1,600 feet at a depth of 41 feet. Expected to be completed in early 2011, this is the last stage of Port Manatee’s $200 million, 11-year expansion.

UTC Move Brings Jobs

to Manatee

The headquarters of UTC Fire & Security is relocating to Lakewood Ranch, a move that will save almost 230 jobs and add 23 new jobs. Manatee County is offering to match state incentives for the jobs, up to $92,000 in the next five years. The new location will be the center of the Fire & Security Services, Global Security Products and Global Fire Products branches of the company, which is a business unit of United Technologies Corp.

Mustang Vacuum Earns

Grant for New Jobs

The Manatee County Economic Development Council and State College of Florida have secured a $184,840 grant for Mustang Vacuum Systems LLC, which plans to create 125 new jobs over the next three years. The grant will offer training for existing employees, including welders, IT specialists, engineers, electricians, scientists and salespeople. The company creates vacuum coating equipment for a variety of industries, including solar cell manufacturing, and recently moved into a 50,000-square-foot facility in south Manatee County's Sarasota Commerce Center.

Manatee Raises Taxes

for Sheriff’s Office

Manatee County commissioners voted 4-3 to raise taxes by 10 cents for every $1,000 of property value. The surtax, estimated to raise $2.2 million over the next year, will help cover budget increases in the sheriff’s office brought on by state-mandated pension expansions. The overall budget for the sheriff’s office is $92.2 million. The commissioners stated that, because of declining property values, most Manatee County residents will not see an increase in their property taxes.



Insurance Headquarters Expanding in Sarasota

Universal Group Inc., a Puerto Rico-based insurance company, is expanding its North American headquarters, located in the Sarasota Commerce Center on Arthur Andersen Parkway. The company plans to add 80 jobs at its Sarasota location, hiring at least 25 percent locally. The new jobs will average annual salaries of $42,500. Sarasota County and the state of Florida offered $210,000 in incentives for the expansion.

Winn-Dixie Closes

Sarasota Location

The Winn-Dixie at 3500 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota is one of 30 locations in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi being closed by the Jacksonville-based grocery store chain. Winn-Dixie is also eliminating 120 corporate jobs and consolidating four areas of operation into three. The changes are estimated to save between $12 million and $17 million per year to accommodate for slumping sales figures. The local store employs about 65 workers, who will receive severance pay if they do not find work at another Winn-Dixie location.

WSMR 89.1 Acquired

by WUSF Public Media

WUSF Public Media has purchased the radio license of WSMR 89.1 in Sarasota for $1.275 million, made possible by a loan from the USF Foundation. Starting Sept. 15, WSMR will play all classical music, and WUSF 89.7 will switch to news and information programming with late-night jazz. The new classical station will cover all of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Hardee counties as well as parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk and Lee counties. National nonprofit Public Radio Capital helped arrange the purchase and programming changes.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation Invests in

STEM Education

Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice has announced a plan to improve education of science, technology, engineering and math-ematics (STEM) in local schools. The foundation will invest $2.5 million over the next five years in five middle schools and three high schools in Sarasota and Charlotte counties. The funds will be used to train teachers to develop relationships between schools and local businesses. Tervis Tumbler, Mote Marine Laboratory and area hospitals have already offered internships or other educational opportunities for students.

Sarasota Police Move

into New Home

Sarasota Police Department employees have begun transferring to the department’s new office at 2071 Ringling Blvd. downtown. Construction on the building cost $46 million and was completed in early August. The 201,000-square-foot facility is replacing the old 60,000-square-foot headquarters originally built in 1959. The new building employs a more efficient layout and includes a training area, a community meeting room and seven conference rooms.

Two Sarasota Schools

Announce Merger

New Gate School, operating in Sarasota since 1992, is merging with the Montessori Foundation’s Field School. New Gate was founded with the Montessori philosophy of equality among students, making it an appropriate match for the newly established Field School, which brings an international focus to the Montessori structure. The new school, part of Montessori’s plan since the foundation moved to Sarasota in 2002, will meet at New Gate’s 100-acre Clark Road campus and will hold classes for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Sarasota Charter School

to Build New Campus

The Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences has begun construction on its new campus on Central Avenue in the Rosemary District. The school purchased the property for $3.4 million in 2004 and now plans to demolish two existing classroom buildings and construct a new facility with 39,000 square feet of classroom space. The project, estimated for completion by next March, is funded by an $11.04 million bond made possible by PNC Capital Markets Group LLC.


More Construction at

Sarasota Memorial

Workers are preparing for the key phase of Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s ongoing renovations: adding an additional three levels to the Critical Care Center and constructing a nine-story bed tower to be connected to the existing East Tower by a nine-story bridge. The $250 million project has been under way for three years and will not be completed until 2013, but the hospital, which treats 85,000 emergency room visitors every year, is fully operational.

Mote Marine Aims to

Continue Oil Spill Research

Mote Marine Laboratory has applied for more than 12 grants, totaling more than $3.3 million, for long-term research into the effects of the Gulf oil spill. The Sarasota lab has received national attention for its sample gathering and use of oil-detecting robots. Future research would focus on effects of the oil and chemical dispersants on marine life in the Gulf. In addition to seeking the grants, Mote Marine has raised more than $150,000 in local donations for oil spill research.



Sarasota County, with help from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, completed the purchase of the 3,800-acre Walton Ranch from the James J. Walton and Wynona June Walton trusts in July for $22.5 million. The county intends to protect the land from future development as part of a conservation plan for 100,000 acres. The Walton family had acquired the property over time, with the most recent purchase in July 2005.

Zell Kravinsky, a real estate investor from Pennsylvania, purchased the Garden Grove Apartments from FirstBank Puerto Rico for $6.55 million. The apartment complex, 200 units at 5715 Granada Drive in Sarasota, was last purchased in 2005 for $19.7 million before being foreclosed on in 2007.

Stanley Riggs of Palmetto purchased 18 units of Bradenton’s Holiday Cove RV Resort by forgiving a mortgage worth $2.23 million owed by the resort’s owners, David Gorin and Ed Rymer. Riggs sold the property to Gorin and Rymer in 2007 for $5.39 million and an additional mortgage, which he canceled in exchange for the

18 lots in July.

Paul Parr of Siesta Sunset Royale LLC purchased the seven-unit Siesta Sunset Beach House, 5322 Calle De La Siesta on Siesta Key, from Myrel Gordon for $800,000. Parr plans to rent out the vacation units, which he mortgaged to Gabbert Investments Group LLC for $600,000. The property was last sold in 1999 for $1 million.


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