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Medical Device Companies Shine In Florida

Originally Published MPMN September 2004

Regional Focus

Medical Device Companies Shine In Florida 

Businesses take advantage of tax breaks, skilled labor, and global access.

What comes to mind first when you think of Florida? Vacations, beaches, warm weather, or Mickey Mouse? Or for you sports fans--the Heat, Magic, Marlins, Devil Rays, Buccanneers, Dolphins, or Jaguars? Then again, maybe your first thought was of the infamous hanging chads

It's true that all of those things represent Florida. But did you also know that the Sunshine State is home to the second largest number of medical device companies in the United States? There are 1021 FDA-registered companies in the state, according to Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development organization. 

More than 23,000 residents of Florida work in this sector. And they are compensated well. The average annual wage is $50,090, which is 40% higher than the state's average annual wage. 

All kinds of exciting medical breakthroughs are coming out of Florida. The state is home to Cordis, a Johnson & Johnson Co., the makers of the first drug-eluting stent approved by FDA. The Cypher sirolimus-eluting coronary stent combines a proven metal stent with an antirejection-type medication. The stent provides structural support to the artery while slowly releasing the sirolimus drug to limit normal tissue overgrowth.

And Largo, Florida-based Smith & Nephew is making strides in tissue engineering. The company has developed Dermagraft, a cryopreserved human fibroblast-derived dermal substitute. Made of fibroblasts derived from newborn foreskin tissue, an extracellular matrix, and a bioabsorbable scaffold, it is used to treat diabetic ulcers. 

So Why Florida?

There are many reasons companies settle in Florida, not the least of which is the lure of sun, surf, and fun. 

"Florida is a destination location that many of our customers are visiting on a regular basis, either for business or pleasure," says Ray Johnson, president of Doyen Medipharm (Lakeland, FL; www.doyenmedipharm.com). "As such, we are able to encourage a high frequency of visitors to our facility where we can most effectively demonstrate our manufactured equipment and contract manufacturing capabilities. The natural draw of the state has certainly been a competitive advantage for us (especially in the winter months)!"

Doyen Medipharm is a manufacturer of medical packaging machinery, and also provides contract packaging and gamma sterilization services.
Florida's natural charms may have enticed companies to go there, but the state has worked hard to ensure that they stay. They offer a number of perks for businesses. For example, Florida has no state personal income tax and no state-level property tax. It has no corporate income tax on limited partnerships. And there is no sales tax on purchases of raw materials incorporated into a final product for resale, including nonreusable containers or packaging.

In addition, the state of Florida offers specialized tax incentives and tax credits to medical device manufacturers. "The biomedical technology industry is one of the most viable, rapidly growing industry sectors in the world and Florida already has a place at the table," says Florida Governor Jeb Bush. "The [incentives] will elevate our ability to attract, retain, and grow this industry and continue to create high-wage, high-value jobs for Floridians."

The state's strategic geographic location is also key for foreign trade. For many years running, the state has held a commanding share of U.S. trade with Latin American and Caribbean nations, as well as between those regions and the rest of the world, according to Enterprise Florida. 
"Florida is a global gateway with access to Latin America and the Caribbean basin," says Diana Greenidge at component supplier Small Parts Inc. (Miami Lakes, FL; www.smallparts.com). The state has a large multilingual workforce that further benefits international business dealings. And almost 30 multinational medical device firms have their corporate headquarters in Florida.

There is also strong research and academic support of high-tech industries, such as medical devices. Florida universities are active in the development of vascular and cardiac devices, lasers, and nanotechnology. In fact, Scripps Research Institute is set to open a Florida facility in Palm Beach County. It will focus on biomedical research, technology development, and drug design. It is expected to be completed in 2006.

The medical device industry gets strong support from the Florida Medical Manufacturers' Consortium (FMMC). The organization was formed to further the interests of medical manufacturers throughout the state. According to the Maddux Business Report, its goals are to provide opportunities for industry members to assist each other, to interface with academic institutions, and to promote the mutual interests of the industry to the general public and governmental entities.

Although the medical device industry is growing statewide, there are specific regions with higher concentrations of device companies and their suppliers. One of the largest is the High-Tech Corridor.

The High-Tech Corridor

Florida's High-Tech Corridor stretches across a 21-county area in the central part of Florida. It is home to more than 181 medical and biomedical technology firms.

The Corridor starts on the west coast in the Tampa Bay region. According to a 2002 report by the FMMC, the medical manufacturing industry cluster is expected to have an economic impact of more than 40,000 jobs and more than $5 billion on the local economy in the seven-county Tampa Bay area. Medical device manufacturers dominate the industry.

OEM suppliers such as Intelligent Micro Patterning (St. Petersburg, FL; www.intelligentmp.com), Doyen Medipharm Inc., Oscor Inc. (Palm Harbor, FL; www.oscor.com), Halkey-Roberts Corp. (St. Petersburg, FL; www.halkey-roberts.com), and VLOC Inc. are located in the Tampa Bay area.

The High-Tech Corridor "allows us to have local access to experienced engineers, a broad selection of quality subsuppliers, and local availability of special services for part manufacturing such as plasma coating, titanium nitrate plating, rifle drilling, and sterilization services," says Doyen Medipharm's Ray Johnson.

On the other coast of central Florida is Volusia County. Besides being home to the world-famous Daytona Beach, it is a growing region for medical device manufacturers. "Actually, central Florida is becoming known among economists and analysts as a hotbed for technology," says Richard Michael, director of the Volusia County Department of Economic Development. "More than 25% of our manufacturing workforce is at work in medical technology." 

Command Medical Products (Ormond Beach, FL; www.commandmedical.com) and Hudson Tool & Die (Ormond Beach, FL; www.hudsontool.com) are just two suppliers that are located there.
 
"Our ability to communicate with other suppliers in the region is a main reason for locating here," says David Slick Sr., founder of Command Medical. 

And the county is actively seeking more medical manufacturers. It cites the state's economic incentives, a low cost of living, and more competitive labor costs as reasons to relocate there. 

Also, the area's colleges and universities have adapted their curricula to support new technologies and train technical personnel. For example, Bethune-Cookman College has graduated more than 200 students in the past 10 years in biomedical techniques. 

In the following pages, you'll find suppliers of products from pacemaker leads to polyimide tubing. Given all that the Sunshine State has to offer, it's likely that they will be joined by many more companies in the future.

Copyright ©2004 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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