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East County Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2010 7 years ago



+ Home Tech secures East County office
Steve Marino was stunned in 2004 when a commercial real estate broker told him the bad news: If he wanted to build a new office and showroom for his growing Fort Myers-based company in the East County, he’d have to pay more than $1.2 million just for the land.

Last summer, Marino, founder of Home-Tech, an appliance insurance firm, was stunned yet again. The price for the two parcels, in the Creekwood East Corporate Park just east of Interstate 75, had dropped to under $400,000.


“We’ve been looking to expand in the Sarasota-Manatee area for a while,” Marino said. “But the land prices there were so ridiculous for so many years.”

Marino, who closed on a $380,000 deal for the land last July, recently announced plans to build a two-building, 20,000-square-foot complex on the site, where he eventually hopes to employ at least 20 people. He hopes a new showroom for selling appliances will be open by early 2011.

Home-Tech has built a name for itself in Lee and Collier counties by making house calls for customers who pay an annual fee to have appliances insured. But the company also is trying to grow through appliance sales by offering new brand-name products.

And it wasn’t only the price of the land that swayed Marino. Manatee County economic development officials sweetened the deal. The county offered tax cuts and impact fee reductions for going ahead with the project, scheduled to begin construction next month.

+ SMR lends tech expertise
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch recently assisted the Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center with the installation 18 new computers.

SMR President and CEO Rex Jensen loaned two staff members, Aaron Brosseau and Joe Casadonte, to SPARCC for a week to set up the new systems. The computers were purchased through a bequest, however, SPARCC lacked the staff and financial resources to install the new technology.

“This is an incredible donation,” SPARCC Executive Director Olivia Thomas said. “SMR has saved SPARCC thousands of dollars that can now be directed to victim services.”

SPARCC is the only state-certified center that provides services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Sarasota and DeSoto.

+ Ranch Web site wins Addy award
Lakewood Ranch’s Web site,, was honored with a gold Addy award and Amy award last week. The awards recognize the best in the industry by awarding winners in all forms of advertising. 

“We are so proud that our Web site was recognized by this prestigious award,” said Miranda Oswald, vice-president of sales and marketing for LWR Communities.

Gravity Free of Sarasota created the site and helps maintain the site. Gravity Free accepted the award from the American Advertising Federation of the Suncoast Feb. 27.

“It is always nice to have your team recognized for outstanding work,” said Scott Heaps, owner of Gravity Free. “It is a great opportunity for showcasing our clients and the innovative work that we do for them.”

The awards attract more than 60,000 entries and are regarded as one of the nation’s largest advertising creative contests.

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