Regional Roundup

By Beau Denton October 31, 2010


Manatee Grants Incentives for 283 New Jobs

Manatee County has approved a $283,000 incentive over the next five years for Bradenton’s Natural Prosthetic Dental Lab Inc., which plans to add 283 employees and move to a new, 15,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in east Bradenton. The company has announced breakthroughs in digital dental technology, and it is expanding to accommodate new manufacturing and training. NPDL had outsourced labor to China, but the new technology makes hiring locally affordable again. The new jobs will have an average wage of 115 percent of the county’s average.


MCAT Receives $15.9 Million

The Federal Transit Administration has awarded Manatee County Area Transit $15.9 million, in part to update the facility on 26th Avenue East. The grant represents the most funding MCAT has received in more than a decade and is part of the nationwide State of Good Repair Program, which is offering $775 million to 152 projects.


GE Plant Closing in February

General Electric has announced that it will close its 546,000-square-foot Digital Energy plant in Palmetto on Feb. 25. The plant currently manufactures and services transformers and smart meters for Florida Power & Light and other companies, but GE is consolidating its transformer repair plants to cut costs. Most of the plant’s 100 employees will be transferred to another smart meter assembly line. GE’s lease for the property, with SL Equities in California, expires in March.


Port Manatee Wins DOT Grant

A joint application by Port Manatee and the Port of Brownsville in Texas has earned a $3.34 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Cross Gulf Container Expansion Project competed with seven other projects for the funds, which will be used to enhance equipment, infrastructure and barges at the two ports, improving efficiencies and the frequency of service. The grant is part of the DOT’s America’s Marine Highway Initiative.


New Aldi Opens in Bradenton

Aldi, a German grocery store chain, opened a new location at 4705 Cortez Road W. in Bradenton. The 17,000-square-foot supermarket is the 41st new Florida store in the last two years for Aldi, which operates more than 8,000 stores in 17 countries and earned $58 billion in 2008 revenue. Aldi is known for low prices—often selling small-brand items for at least 50 percent less than similar products at other stores—and unconventional methods, such as charging for bags or renting shopping carts for 25 cents.


Horizon Taken Over by Arkansas Bank

In September the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation assumed control of the four branches of Bradenton’s Horizon Bank, after the bank was closed by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. The FDIC then enacted a $150.4 million loss-share transaction with Bank of the Ozarks, meaning the Arkansas bank assumed all of Horizon’s deposits and purchased the majority of assets.



Sarasota’s Bayfront Now a Historic District

Sarasota’s bayfront, which includes the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, the Sarasota Garden Club and Art Center Sarasota, has been classified a federal Historic District, a designation that provides incentives for the preservation and enhancement of historic sites. The bayfront is Sarasota’s eighth district in the federal registry, following downtown Sarasota, Laurel Park, Central Cocoanut, Overtown, Harding Circle, Rigby’s LaPlaza and Burns Court.


Sarasota and Manatee Among Top 100 Communities for Young People

America’s Promise Alliance listed Sarasota and Manatee counties among the top 100 communities for young people. The organization recognizes efforts to keep young people in school and prepare them for college and the workforce.


U.S. News and World Report Ranks Sarasota No. 2 in Affordability

In its story, “Where to Buy a Home for Less Than $800 a Month,” U.S. News and World Report ranked Sarasota No. 2 among 159 metropolitan areas. After dropping from a high of $311,000 in 2007, the median home price in the Sarasota area was $185,000 in the second quarter of this year. A 20 percent down payment of $37,000 at this price would make monthly payments of $734.


Local Businesses Start Florida AgVenture

A group of area businesses, including Big Cat Habitat, Mixon Fruit Farms, Dakin Dairy, Hydro-Taste, The Lipizzan Horses, Bearadise Ranch, King Produce, Rosa Fiorelli’s Winery and Jungle Gardens, have formed Florida AgVenture, offering tours of local wildlife and agriculture attractions. Limousine and bus service are available to allow for multiple visits per day. Florida AgVenture is also planning a teacher training program and a spring break camp.


Mikel Holloway Sworn in as Police Chief

In early October Mikel Holloway was sworn in as Sarasota’s new chief of police. Holloway, who has been with the Sarasota Police Department for 28 years, is replacing former chief Peter Abbott, who resigned after being suspended last summer. Holloway is Sarasota’s first African-American police chief and received support for the position from city officials and community leaders.


DwellGreen Earns Job Grant

Sarasota County announced a $250,000 job stimulus grant for DwellGreen, a company that evaluates green home performance and retrofit project management. The grant allows the company to create five new positions and 13 contractor jobs. DwellGreen also received $750,000 from investors in September.


New TV and Film Production Studio Launches

Sanborn Studios, a brand-new film and television production company, is bringing its production studios and headquarters to Sarasota. Sanborn Studios plans to add 117 new jobs out of a temporary 30,000-square-foot facility for production and post-production in Lakewood Ranch, as well as a facility at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for aviation and production. Eventually, Sanborn plans to build a permanent facility in Lakewood Ranch. The studio is beginning one pilot this month and plans to start another early next year. Sanborn is receiving $1.2 million in state and local incentives, and the new jobs will be at an average annual wage of $72,000.

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