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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Sep. 7, 2007 14 years ago

Coffee Talk

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Medical products economy huge: The medical products industry in the Tampa Bay region contributes a total direct economic output of $3.4 billion and employs more than 12,000 workers, according to a study commissioned by the Florida Medical Manufacturers' Consortium.Slow market calls for foreign response: Howard Rooks is not a novice when it comes to international real estate customers. Beginning in the 1960s, he spent three decades building up Mount Vernon Realty, a 35-office, 2,000-agent firm blanketing the Washington D.C. area, where foreign citizens were common customers.Review welcomes new associate publisher: Angie Basile has joined the Gulf Coast Business Review as associate publisher for Lee and Collier counties.WCI gloomy shareholder meeting: Annual shareholders' meetings are supposed to be uplifting, joyous affairs at which executives present the company's plans for the year ahead.Shutts & Bowen targets Tampa: Miami-based corporate legal firm Shutts & Bowen has beefed up its Tampa operations, growing from a four-lawyer office in March 2006 to 21 attorneys today.More criticism for Odyssey: Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration took a broadside recently when The New York Times editorialized that the sea exploration company should give the riches it found underwater to the Peru government.

Coffee Talk

+ Medical products

economy huge

The medical products industry in the Tampa Bay region contributes a total direct economic output of $3.4 billion and employs more than 12,000 workers, according to a study commissioned by the Florida Medical Manufacturers' Consortium.

The Medical Products Industry Cluster in Tampa Bay and Florida, conducted by the University of South Florida Center for Economic Development Research, sought to quantify the economic impacts of the Medical Products Industry Group in Tampa Bay and Florida. The medical products group consisted of three segments - the pharmaceutical segment; the biotech segment, and the medical device segment, with medical devices representing the largest segment with nearly 9,000 employees.

Other key findings from the study about the Tampa Bay medical products industry include:

• Total income is $889 million

• Tampa Bay employment makes up 26% of Florida's total medical products industry employment

• In just the medical devices segment, Tampa Bay employment makes up 33% of the state's total medical devices sector employment

• Since the last medical products study was conducted in 2004, total employment increased nearly 24%; and total economic output increased nearly 65%, with medical devices growing at an astounding 97%.

"The growth of the medical products industry in Tampa Bay has been incredible, anchored by the medical device manufacturing sector," said Geary Havran, President of NDH Medical, Inc. and Chair of the Florida Medical Manufacturers' Consortium. "This study allows us to quantify this growth and demonstrate the impact these businesses are having on the economic development of our region."

Jobs in the medical products industry typically pay more than 50% above the average state wage, says Mike Meidel, Director, Pinellas County Economic Development.

+ Slow market calls

for foreign response

Howard Rooks is not a novice when it comes to international real estate customers. Beginning in the 1960s, he spent three decades building up Mount Vernon Realty, a 35-office, 2,000-agent firm blanketing the Washington D.C. area, where foreign citizens were common customers.

Now running Rooks Morris, a smaller, boutique-style Sarasota-based real estate firm, Rooks is again looking to hit the international scene, only this time it's more of a product of the market slump then the area he works in.

The longtime broker picked an exotic locale for his foreign foray: Dubai. Rooks spent the early parts of Labor Day weekend flying to the city in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, where, through some friends and business contacts, he planned to meet with potential Sarasota and Longboat Key home and condo buyers. The trip - Rooks' first to Dubai - makes sense, he says, to bolster sales "in a [local] market that's still pretty slow."

Rooks says he's not anticipating coming back home with signed contracts, just some leads and possibilities. "Hopefully," Rooks tells Coffee Talk, "this will be the first of many trips."

+ Review welcomes

new associate publisher

Angie Basile has joined the Gulf Coast Business Review as associate publisher for Lee and Collier counties. A resident of Southwest Florida for nearly 20 years, Basile was most recently an account executive with a business magazine in Southwest Florida.

In Lee and Collier counties, Basile will oversee advertising sales and marketing for the Review. The weekly business newspaper opened an office in Fort Myers and started editorial coverage of these counties in 2005.

To contact Basile, call 239-281-7980 or email [email protected].

+ WCI gloomy

shareholder meeting

Annual shareholders' meetings are supposed to be uplifting, joyous affairs at which executives present the company's plans for the year ahead.

Not so at WCI Communities' most recent annual shareholders meeting Aug. 30, which ranked only a few notches above a wake - just without the body.

The Bonita Springs-based homebuilder's meeting took place in a small windowless room at the nearby Hyatt Regency hotel. Chairman Don Ackerman and CEO Jerry Starkey sat at the front of the room at a small table with a pitcher of tap water facing about 40 shareholders and employees.

No slides. No PowerPoint presentations. No great plans for new communities. Just a gloomy outlook and forecasts that the slide in condo sales and rising defaults won't affect WCI the way it has its competitors.

Meanwhile, billionaire Carl Icahn's lieutenants, 34-year-old Keith Meister and 31-year-old David Schechter stood at the back of the room, arms crossed, while the other directors sat at the front of the room. Also huddled in the back was Nick Graziano, the 35-year-old managing director with Sandell Asset Management, an Icahn hedge-fund ally.

The star of the show, Carl Icahn, was the only director who didn't show up, much to the displeasure of shareholders who wanted to catch a glimpse of the man who recently won control of WCI's board. But count on Icahn being elected WCI's new chairman soon.

+ Shutts & Bowen

targets Tampa

Miami-based corporate legal firm Shutts & Bowen has beefed up its Tampa operations, growing from a four-lawyer office in March 2006 to 21 attorneys today.

The latest hire was Zachary Rans, 36, a former shareholder with Tampa-based Fowler White Boggs Banker. He joins Shutts' managing partner in Tampa, Alan Higbee, himself a Fowler White alum.

Recently, Shutts & Bowen was ranked sixth behind fifth-place Fowler White in the number of lawyers in Florida, according to Florida Trend magazine.

+ More criticism

for Odyssey

Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration took a broadside recently when The New York Times editorialized that the sea exploration company should give the riches it found underwater to the Peru government.

Odyssey found 500,000 coins in the Atlantic Ocean shipwreck this spring. Some people suspect they came from a Spanish ship. Peru was once a Spanish colony that may have minted the coins.

What happened to finder's keepers?

Money in the hands of a business that expands, hires more people, creates innovation, increases learning and treats its people well is almost always better than more money in the hands of a government.

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