Bradenton is home to U.S. Soccer’s Residency program for future FIFA World Cup atheletes

What does a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast have in common with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa? Several of the U.S. players trained in Bradenton at the IMG Academies, home to the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency Program.

Since its inception, 170 players have been through the full-time Residency Program, and more than 60 of those players have moved on to Major League Soccer or the professional leagues in Europe. Fifteen players have also registered at least one cap with the full MNT: Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Bobby Convey, Eddie Johnson, Justin Mapp, Oguchi Onyewu, Santino Quaranta, Chad Marshall, Eddie Gaven, Jonathan Spector, Heath Pearce and Josmer Altidore.

The U-17 players live on campus at the Academy and train in the morning under the guidance of Wilmer Cabrera and assistant coaches Paul Caffrey, Gerson Echeverry, Keith Fulk and Paul Grafer. In the afternoon, the players attend classes at Bradenton Preparatory Academy. While in the full-time residency program, the U.S. team not only trains daily under Cabrera, but also has access to the IMG Academy’s spacious facilities.

The team regularly uses IMG’s state-of-the-art strength-training facilities, as well as some of the nation’s best sports psychologists that work at the Academy. The IMG Academy includes top-of-the-line soccer equipment, three Bermuda grass fields, an indoor dome with artificial turf, two swimming pools, newly renovated student housing and dining facilities.

The EDC is proud that Manatee County is home to this wonderful program that trains the Team USA atheletes that we are all getting ready to watch in this year’s World Cup in South Africa .

Gearing up for Panama

If you are like me, the only things you knew about Panama was that it was a really good Van Halen song in the 80’s and something about a canal down there that the United States was a former owner.  Well, now as an economic developer I’ve come to learn of the importance of Panama both for connecting to other continents in international trade and for establishing export partners.
In order to establish business connections with those that could help us increase our business at Port Manatee, Manatee County will be sending a delegation to Panama next week.  I will be a member of the delegation so I am getting prepared for this trip as I write this.
The conventional wisdom is that the Panama Canal expansion will be completed in 2014 and will give eastern US deep water ports and opportunity for more business that traditionally would have come in to the west coast ports.  Even a one percent increase would be a substantial amount of business to be created.  Since Port Manatee is the nearest deep water port to the Panama Canal, Manatee County has an excellent opportunity to secure some of this new business.  This new business would in turn create many more jobs which is what is of the most interest to the EDC.
Because Florida and Panama have such strong trade connections, its also going to be worthwhile to speak to people in Panama that can connect us with companies that could buy goods from Manatee County businesses.  There will be future opportunities for Manatee County companies to visit Panama as a delegation in order to seek business opportunities so this mission will be very helpful toward advancing that goal.
It is a really exciting feeling that I have right now knowing that someone that I will meet with in Panama can be the link that create jobs and new investment in Manatee County.  Its so awesome to be part of a delegation that is opening a new market for our community.

EDC has many ways to impact the economy

We had a big month and year that was capped off with the EDC’s annual “Excellence in Industry” awards lunch at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch.

As each company received their awards they said something to the audience.  It was very interesting to hear what they had to say.

The winner of this year’s Innovation Award, Sleek Audio, gave credit to the EDC for getting their technology mentioned in a press release because this led to a new piece of business coming into the company which led to even more from the same industry (three hockey teams and the Tampa Bay Rays are now using their custom headphones.)

That’s the kind of thing that we have to continue to do at the EDC.  It’s never just enough to get a high impact company to locate, we must continue to look for ways to assist them and promotion is one of those ways.

EDC Collaborates with SCF Students

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with two State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota  film students in the creation of a short video for the upcoming 2009 EDC Excellence in Industry Awards luncheon.  Their charge was to film 5 high impact, Manatee County companies in the following targeted sectors: Clean Energy, Agriculture Technologies, Maritime & Distribution, Sports Performance and Life Science–a very diversified group of businesses and cultures. To say that I was impressed with these kids is an understatement!  The students, Eric Gillen and Allison Shives exemplified professionalism from the onset to the completion of this important project.  It was an added pleasure to interact with Del Jacobs, SCF, Professor of Film & Media Studies and Don Guy, SCF Film Department instructor and Executive Producer at Blue Sky Creates Inc.  We are very pleased with the final product as it communicates the message that Manatee County does have a diversified base of high impact companies, and the EDC intends to capitalize on that great asset.

We are very excited to announce the winners of the Manatee EDC 2009 Excellence in Industry Awards.  The event is almost sold out, so if you haven’t made your reservation, please do so soon by contacting Debbie Scott at or 941-748-4842 ext 126.

Germany and England Lead all Foreign Direct Investment in Tampa Bay

Much of my experience in economic development has been in working with companies that are headquartered outside of the United States.  Because of this I have been looking for trends that show which countries do the most business inside the Tampa Bay region.  Fortunately for me, the Tampa Bay Partnership just completed a study of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the region.  I thought it would be worth noting some of the findings of this in-depth study.

Key Findings

  • 394 companies with 824 locations in the Tampa Bay region
  • 34 nations
  • 18 industries
  • Over 37,000 employees
  • Total sales in excess of $13.6 billion

The top six identified investor nations and industry sectors are:

Investor Nations # of Companies
Germany 64
England 56
Canada 48
France 41
Japan 35
Switzerland 20
Industry Sector # of Companies
Manufacturing 105
Wholesale Trade 85
Retail Trade 41
Professional Services 32
Administration & Support 24
Finance & Insurance 23







My main thought is that I am not very surprised.  I was amazed to see how many people have relocated to Manatee County from Germany, England and Canada.  That fits right in to the top countries that also invest in business in this area.

Most importantly, according to the study, 94 foreign owned firms that are located here employ more than 100 workers each with some employing many more than that and a total of 37,000 employees come from FDI.  This is why we have to make a push to attract FDI.  We can create a lot of jobs with a strong and strategic FDI program.

If you are interested in reading the full FDI study here is the link:

Port Dolphin Announcement – Signals Manatee County is serious about Economic Development

Recently it was announced that Manatee County and Governor Crist approved the plans of Port Dolphin Energy, LLC (a subsidiary of Norway based Höegh LNG AS), deep water port project which will provide a new source of natural gas to the state.  In this project, liquid natural gas (LNG) tankers arriving at the port would link up with a natural gas pipeline running from the offshore terminal to Port Manatee and then inland for four miles before interconnecting with the state’s natural gas pipeline grid.

If I was an outside company looking in at this deal in Manatee County I’d be impressed.  With any economic development deal, there are various concerns by the company and the community that need to be addressed before a project can go through.  Impressively, the company and local governments found common ground at each critical juncture of the early discussions.  What this demonstrates is Manatee County’s unique ability to secure a major project.  To someone who wishes to locate a business here, the ability to deliver on a project of this magnitude should tell you what you need to know regarding the business environment in Manatee County.  Not many communities have a project of this caliber on their resume.

Last Thursday night I attended a reception where Höegh was kind enough to thank the community for all of the progress that was being made on Port Dolphin.  The economic impact to the community over the life of the project will be substantial, an estimated $150 million and hundreds of jobs in construction and administration.

Website for Port Dolphin:

Solar Energy in Florida Getting National Attention

It was good to see all of the media spotlight this week that the solar energy industry received when President Barack Obama visited the solar farm in Arcadia.   Several people that I know sent me a note that they did not realize that we had such a large photovoltaic solar panel farm next door to us.
(I then let them know that the President was flying to our international airport here in Manatee County.)

In case you haven’t heard, Manatee County is a real player in the photovoltaic industry as we have several rapidly growing businesses in this field.   Mustang Vacuum systems which produces the machines that make photovoltaic solar cells just announced that they will locate in Manatee County creating 125 jobs.   Sunovia Energy Technologies is headquartered in Manatee County and is proving to be a force to be reckoned with in their industry as they develop revolutionary solar technologies that they are referring to as Solar 2.0.   Sunovia’s technologies will help the United States achieve grid parity which means that solar energy costs will be the same or cheaper than conventional grid power.

Clean Energy is one of our new targeted business sectors and solar is one of the areas that were are experiencing a lot of growth in and expect more growth in over the coming years.   Because clean energy is a targeted business sector that means there are special incentives available for those companies.   Currently we are planning our role at a trade show this winter so that we can attract more growth from this business sector and stay on top of the latest trends that could help our local clean energy companies to grow in Manatee County.