Naples and the surrounding area are known for their pristine beaches and excellent weather. Many people may view this area as a place for vacationers and retirees, not a hub for business development and innovation. However, a year in review of the business environment reveals a lesser-known side of Collier County: a catalyst for business growth and economic development.
Collier County is home to roughly 25,000 businesses and 168,000 workers. While tourism and hospitality sector jobs are dominant, one might be surprised to know that Collier County has other sprawling industries that aid in diversifying the economy and employ highly-skilled workers. Many companies operating within these industries had notable headquarter expansions or relocated to Collier in the past year.
One that you might be more familiar with is Arthrex’s expansion. Arthrex is a global leader in medical device manufacturing and one of the top employers in Collier County. The HQ expansion includes a luxury hotel and a conference center. The $63 million capital investment is expected to add 560 jobs and increase the local economy by more than $1 billion annually.
Other companies within the medical device manufacturing cluster also saw growth in their operations. One of these is Lenkbar, a company that invents, designs and manufactures revolutionary surgical devices and implants. The company expanded into a new state-of-the-art 21,000 s.f facility and now employees 50 workers in high-skilled positions. An example of a more traditional economic development project is Summit Orthopedic Technologies. Summit relocated its headquarters from Connecticut to Naples, FL, in 2019 and received a qualified targeted industries (QTI) incentive package from the state. The QTI incentive was available for companies that create high wage jobs in targeted top value-added industries. However, the program has since sunset. Summit’s relocation from a high-tax state to a tax climate more conducive to business is just one of many trends that are happening with HQ relocations from the northeast. Summit melds right into the medical device manufacturing cluster in Collier County.
Now looking at a very different cluster -- a Forbes article recently listed Naples as one of the twenty top entrepreneurial ecosystems across America. Along with the presence of many consulting and funding organizations, including Tamiami Angels, the Small Business Development Center at FGCU, and one of the most active SCORE chapters in the U.S., there is also a growing co-working and flexible workspace environment in Collier County. One of these organizations, Venture X, is undergoing an expansion into a 18,500 s.f space, which is set to be open in the spring of 2021. The new area will attract entrepreneurs, remote workers, startups, non-profits, small businesses, and even large teams from fortune 500 companies. Catalyst OrthoScience, a medical device company focused on the upper extremity orthopedics market, raised $12.7 million in an oversubscribed Series C-1 financing round. This funding allowed Catalyst to expand distribution, develop new products, and enhanced company infrastructure and hire new talent. Additionally, Naples-based Tamiami Angel Funds put more than $1.4 million into Catalyst in earlier funding rounds.
Other Naples grown companies such as Pyure Brands, one of the fastest-growing independent organic stevia companies in the U.S., is continuing its growth at its North Naples HQ and has placed its products in leading grocery stores including Whole Foods and Publix. Pyure Brands was named to Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies.
Business development, expansion, and attraction are critical goals for economic growth. At the same time, Collier County also focuses on attainable housing for workers, and workforce development training centers, including the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, which opened its doors in 2019 to upskill workers for the growing workforce demands in manufacturing operations.
So, next time you are enjoying a day at the beach or grabbing a bite to eat at your favorite local restaurant, take time to notice the vast amount of diversified industry that helps to keep the local economy strong all year round. To find out more about details about economic development initiatives and programs in Collier County, please contact Melanie Schmees, director of business and economic research, at 239-403-2914 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.