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Gulf Coast Week: June 3

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  • | 10:52 p.m. June 3, 2011
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Salazar expands
Salazar Machine and Steel, a manufacturer of produce washers for the agricultural industry, plans to consolidate its operations in a 20,000-square-foot facility under construction in Immokalee.

Using a federal grant, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Collier County Airport Authority are building the facility at Immokalee Regional Airport in eastern Collier County.

Currently, Salazar Machine occupies a building at the regional airport designed for smaller businesses in the startup phase. The new building will give Salazar Machine room to grow and for new incubator businesses to fill the space it is vacating.

Salazar Machine, founded by Pete Salazar, a child of migrant farm workers, makes specially designed washers for produce, such as tomatoes, that can be used in the fields.

Arthrex wins award
Arthrex, the Naples-based manufacturer of equipment for orthopedic surgeons, recently won the “innovention” award from the Southwest Florida Technology Partnership.

The company won the award for its Surgical Outcome System, which helps surgeons and their patients select the best treatment option and establish realistic recovery goals. The award is given to the company that has invented, improved or demonstrated an innovative and creative solution to a business challenge.

Arthrex makes more than 5,000 products for arthroscopic and minimally invasive orthopedic surgical procedures. The company has 1,000 employees in Naples and has projected $1 billion in annual revenues.

Rolling in the mud
Source Interlink, the Bonita Springs-based publisher of specialty magazines, has acquired the Mud Life brand, which includes a magazine devoted to off-road driving in the mud. Terms were not disclosed.

Besides Mud Life magazine, Source Interlink also is acquiring a special clothing line for off-road mud enthusiasts.

Source Interlink publishes 70 specialty magazines, from Motor Trend to Snowboarder. It also publishes websites and produces media events.

Tampa Bay

Busch hikes prices
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay raised its price of admission to $77.99 and dropped its popular Florida Fun Card, which allowed holders to enter the park for an entire year after purchase.

The Tampa theme park is now offering an annual pass for $109.99 that includes parking, which normally costs $13 per visit. Single-day ticket buyers can pay an extra $5 for unlimited admission to the park through the remainder of 2011.

Busch also opened a new $40 million Cheetah Hunt exhibit featuring a rollercoaster that quickly accelerates from zero to 60 mph. The ride has 4,429 feet of track, making it the park's longest.

AgileThought expands

Tampa-based software provider AgileThought Inc. opened an office in downtown Chicago, employing four initially with plans to triple that number by yearend.

The Chicago office will provide technical, project management and account management services, and it will collaborate closely with the Tampa main office and two others in St. Louis and New York.

The company says it expects to see greater demand for technical skills and diversified services in the Midwest, resulting in a significant jump in revenue from the region this year. COO Jeff Alagood will be in charge of the Chicago office.

AgileThought provides custom software solutions and data warehousing services to Fortune 500 companies. The company was established in 2004.


County eliminates jobs
Manatee County officials continued to shrink the government payroll, with the latest move totaling 54 eliminated positions.

The cutbacks were announced May 25. The county has now reduced its total workforce by 237 jobs since 2007.

Many of the 54 terminations took place in areas of government where, according to a county statement, “workload no longer required as many personnel.” And 20 of the 54 positions will be vacated by employees who elected an early retirement option.

District gets new name
Manatee County economic development officials renamed one of the oldest business districts in the county.

The 14th Street West Community Redevelopment Area is now Midtown Manatee. The area is a congested mix of homes and businesses around U.S 41 from Cortez Road to 26th Avenue. The 14th Street West CRA advisory board agreed to the name change, although Manatee County commissioners need to approve it.

The CRA plans other changes for the area, including new lights and medians for roads. It also hopes to launch a bimonthly neighborhood market sale.

Siesta Key beach No. 1
Sarasota's Siesta Beach, long touted by local tourism officials as the best beach in the country, if not the world, now has the words of Dr. Beach to back it up.

Dr. Beach is really coastal scientist Stephen Leatherman, whose annual beach rankings are well followed in the tourism industry. Siesta Beach has been ranked on the list before and was second place last year. This year, says Leatherman, Siesta's sugary sand, wide beach, safe water, cleanliness, amenities and overall beauty made it No 1.

Officials say a top ranking on Leatherman's survey is worth 15% more tourists next season. Several beaches in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater region have previously earned the No. 1 rank.


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