February 2014 economic news, notes and commentary from Central Florida
Florida Hospital partners with YMCA
Florida Hospital for Children’s Healthy 100 Kids program has created a first-of-its-kind partnership with the YMCA of Central Florida that will allow medical professionals in the Healthy 100 Kids program to utilize multiple YMCA Family Centers. The agreement increases accessibility to the program, which focuses on overweight and obese children. Healthy 100 Kids is a part of the overarching, community-focused Healthy 100 program designed to improve regional health.
Keep an eye out for The Garage, an Orlando-based company that recently introduced AiR, one of the world’s first hands-free, fully integrated and interactive tools for hospital operating rooms. AiR is an intuitive patient safety product that integrates voice command, gestures and clinical data. With a patent pending, the product provides scrubbed surgical teams with hands-free voice and gesture access to pertinent patient records and surgical details, as well as the ability to zoom in or out of images without ever touching a surface.
Trader Joe’s headed to Winter Park
One of the Orlando area’s oldest retail corridors is turning young—as in new stores and renovated looks. The most notable planned entry along U.S. Highway 17-92 in Winter Park is California-based Trader Joe’s, the specialty grocery store already located in nine states and now headed to Central Florida. And, with approvals in place, a second Trader Joe’s will be arriving soon in southwest Orlando. This continues the budding trend of national retailers, including Fresh Market and Whole Foods, to continue investing in the region’s suburban submarkets. Alas, the Winter Park changes come with a price: the closing of venerable Tom & Jerry’s Lounge, one of Orlando’s oldest bars. With this move, Trader Joe’s is now seeking distribution space to support its presence here.
Fifth Third Bank
The title, “From Vicious to Virtuous: The U.S. Economic Cycle Turns,” pretty much said it all. Jeff Korzenik, chief investment strategist for FIFTH THIRD BANK, had good things to detail during his 2014 economic outlook for Central Florida. Examples: Florida is the sixth best state in terms of fiscal responsibility, and it is very well positioned for businesses looking to relocate; the housing market is improving due to demographics such as new household creations; and Florida is the center of the energy transformation and a leader in switching fleet trucking from diesel to natural gas. Also, Korzenik noted there needs to be ongoing focus on the development of new technology and that, as the health-care industry continues to change, business leaders must find new ways to address increasing related expenses.
Florida Institute of Technology
Creating the future requires commitment today. That was the message as the Florida Institute of Technology launched a $100 million fundraising campaign—the most ambitious campaign in Florida Tech’s 55-year history and the largest effort of its kind ever in Brevard County. The Create the Future campaign encompasses several priorities, including growth of the university’s endowment; funds for a new facility for the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business; improvements to the Vero Beach Marine Lab and enhancements to the Anchorage on Melbourne Harbor. Florida Tech’s last campaign concluded in 2009 and raised $60 million.
Residential sales continued to soar at Lake Nona in 2013, earning the 7,000-acre community in southeast Orlando a spot among the nation’s top-selling, master-planned communities. Lake Nona recorded 475 new home sales last year, up 8 percent over 2012. Activity was particularly strong at Laureate Park, Lake Nona’s newest neighborhood, where sales nearly doubled to 268 new contracts. Lake Nona, including its rising Medical City, was planned and built by private investment organization Tavistock Group.
A team of family enterprise majors from Stetson University placed fifth out of 20 teams in the undergraduate competition of the Family Enterprise Case Competition in Burlington, Vt. Hosted by the University of Vermont’s School of Business Administration, the event is considered a premier competition in family business and features competitors from rigorous business schools worldwide. The competition allows students to apply their knowledge from the classroom to complex family business problems.
Space Coast Regional Airport
Space Coast Regional Airport officials received welcome news when North American Surveillance Systems Inc. announced it will invest $1.3 million in land acquisition and $380,000 in construction and equipment to expand and consolidate its fixed and rotary-wing aircraft modification business. The company currently has operational offices in DeLand. The expansion in Titusville will create 20 jobs over the next three years.
Frontier Communications Corp.
More expansion is in the works for Frontier Communications Corp. in DeLand. Less than a year after adding 20,000 square feet to its original customer contact operations center, the company is investing $2.3 million in more growth, potentially creating 139 jobs in technical support positions. The latest expansion adds another 17,650 square feet to the call center. State officials say it’s another sign that Florida’s IT sector continues to grow and impact the state’s economy.
Orlando Museum of Art
Timeless beauty at 90. The Orlando Museum of Art, one of the city’s oldest institutions, marks its 90th anniversary this year. Uniquely, to kick-off the year-long celebrations, museum staff toured the city in January with a handheld and framed art cutout that everyone from elected officials to people on the street were photographed in for a “Picture YOURSELF in Art” collection. Going forward, OMA leaders plan to put an emphasis on contemporary art, including experimental and avant-garde exhibitions, and more works by living artists.
DaVita RX is a done deal, finally. For the second time, Orange County has approved incentives to help the California-based specialty pharmacy expand in Orlando. The first approval came in 2012, but company plans changed. Now DaVita seeks to build a new headquarters in the county and deliver new high-paying jobs (an average wage of $46,325). Reportedly, the incentives equaled $558,000. DaVita’s 186 projected new jobs would add an estimated $8.6 million to the area’s economy.
Keep an eye out for Wellness Way—a development on 16,000 acres near Four Corners and Clermont that would resemble Orlando’s Medical City in Lake Nona. According to officials, the proposed project, using former citrus land, would create a long-term master plan that promotes economic development without much environmental impact. The project could include 15,000 homes and drive job growth.
Venture Capitalists and Technology
Venture capitalists are attracted to technology—at least according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. The report revealed that software investments were responsible for $194 million of last year’s venture investment of $421 million in 37 Florida companies. Life sciences also garnered significant attention with $107 million invested. Nationwide, venture capitalists invested $29.4 billion in 3,995 deals in 2013, increases of 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Early-stage companies attracted one-third of those dollars and half the deals.