When James Fitzgibbons, president of ISPG Inc., wanted to move his family-owned company, he sought advice from a local attorney.
“The decision was made without any input from any organizations or anything,” Fitzgibbons said. “I did talk to a local law firm and they recommended at that time, go to Manatee County, not Sarasota. I understand since that time Sarasota has done a lot in terms of attracting businesses. But five to six years ago, I guess they didn't.”
Fitzgibbons, now 79, also told the Herald in 2012 that Connecticut’s political climate and tax situation motivated him to move.
“Incentivized” is a weekly feature in the Bradenton Herald that looks at local companies that have received public incentive money and how that assistance paid off in terms of job creation.
ISPG’s move to Manatee County was sweetened by a $81,196 economic incentive package from Manatee County, though the company has not received the full incentive amount.
Most of the incentive money came from the county’s economic development incentive grant, which “is available to qualified applicants creating new high-wage job opportunities, with exceptionally high wages and capital investment, either by expanding an existing business within the County or by bringing a new business to the County. This incentive is customized per business based on the number of jobs created, the average annual wage and is paid based on performance over a five year period,” according to a Manatee County economic development incentives fact sheet.
$56,196 amount of incentive money ISPG has received
ISPG moved eight employees from Connecticut, according to Fitzgibbons. Since then, the company has grown and added 10 full-time positions, he said. ISPG has received $56,196 of the $80,196 available in the agreement, according to Karen Stewart, Manatee County economic development program manager. Fitzgibbons said the funds were used to furnish the company’s new headquarters.
“A desk is just as important as a microscope,” he said. The county does not track how the incentive funds are spent, Stewart said, and ISPG’s agreement with the county expires on Sept. 30.
The company received:
- $30,000 for 10 jobs created in 2011
- $5,196.17 Transportation Impact Fee Incentive paid to permit for construction of facility
- $21,000 for seven jobs created in 2012
Source: Karen Stewart, Manatee County economic development program manager
“No additional payments have been made,” Stewart told the Herald in an email. “The company received $3,000 per job based on wages at 200 percent of the (average) Manatee County wage at the time of adoption.” The discrepancy between Fitzgibbons’ employee numbers and Stewart’s could be because ISPG has not provided Manatee County with an employee roster since the end of 2012, which means the company has not attempted to bill the county for job creation since then.
“We paid them in 2012 after they provided roster of employees with wages,” Stewart said. “Then when they bill us next year, they have to show us they kept those employees. We take the snapshot on the 31. So it could have been on Dec. 31, 2013 they didn't have 17 jobs so maybe they lost one or two. The last they billed us for was on Dec. 31, 2012.”
ISPG is one of the world’s largest suppliers of cannulae, a precision-made tube that can be inserted into the body, often for the delivery or removal of fluid, or for the gathering of data. The company also makes specialty needles and glass syringes to administer epidural anesthesia for use in obstetrics. ISPG works with third-party manufacturers who then sell the products to end-users in the medical community.
The company was, at the time of the move, run by Fitzgibbons, his two daughters and their husbands, who liked the school choices in the Lakewood Ranch area. Since then, his eldest daughter has started her own company.
Many of the third-party manufacturers are located in Japan, Thailand and Brazil, as well as other countries. As such, ISPG employees, including Fitzgibbons’ daughters, often worked odd hours in the company’s Connecticut headquarters before moving to Manatee County.
“In Connecticut, we had two different facilities,” Fitzgibbons said. “They were 10 miles apart. And for years we were looking to put everything together.” Fitzgibbons was unable to find a clean, suitable facility in a safe area of town where he felt comfortable with his daughters working late into the night. At that point, he started looking.
“We started talking to Manatee County people, and we met them at a medical show in Orlando and they were very helpful with us,” Fitzgibbons said. “And that's when we decided to buy this land and put this building up.” ISPG’s two Connecticut facilities were about 10,000 square feet compared to the company’s current 12,300-square-foot Lakewood Ranch headquarters, where the company’s receiving, laboratory and office space are housed under one roof. The building at 10504 Technology Terrace was built in 2012.
Manatee County and the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. have also helped ISPG with finding talent, Fitzgibbons said, whose attitude in hiring employees may differ from other business owners.
“At one time we looked at college people and we no longer do,” Fitzgibbons said. “Older people with a high school education have better communication skills than some kids coming out of college. I would rather hire them and train them. I’m more willing to hire people without experience who have the basic ability to read and write, and I'd like to train them ourselves.”
Incentives at a glance: ISPG, Inc.
Location: 10504 Technology Terrace, Bradenton
Incentive approved: 2011
Incentive amount: $81,196
Projected job growth: 25
Projected average wage: $103,200
Projected capital investment: $500,000
Incentives paid: $56,196
Starting employment: 8
Current employment: 20
Source: ISPG, Inc.