MANATEE -- Spanish luxury sports car manufacturer AD Tramontana is closer to coming to Manatee County, but its production plant will not be built at Port Manatee.
The car company makes highly customizable cars with Formula 1 components featuring V-12 engines that sell for between $500,000 to more than $1 million. The cars are only available in Europe and Asia, but the company has one on display at a Broward County dealership.
"What they want is probably not on the port, but we're helping them find a place in Manatee County," said Carol Whitmore, chairwoman of the Port Authority Thursday following the authority's meeting.
Ivan Mutis, chief executive officer of GM&L Strategic Consulting for New Markets, said after exploring the East Coast of Florida, it's not ideal for manufacturing and costs too much money, so Tramontana would prefer Manatee County. Mutis' company works with Tramontana and other European companies looking for opportunities, and helped connect the Port with other businesses looking to work with the Port.
"I think where you're from, this side of Florida, is more economical in a manufacturing way," Mutis said.
Tramontana, headquartered near Barcelona in Figueres, Spain, would likely display one of its cars here in November, Mutis said.
Even though Tramontana is likely to have a manufacturing facility elsewhere in Manatee, the company would still import components through Port Manatee, said Carlos Buqueras, executive director of Port Manatee.
"Car manufacturing belongs more in a high-tech environment, almost in a clean room," he said. "Like an Automotive Center for Excellence at MTI, for example."
MTI already offers Automotive Service Excellence training for car technicians and started an automotive collision program for bodywork, said MTI director Mary Cantrell. If companies need additional or specialized courses, the companies' representatives will talk to instructors and often the Economic Development Council inquires about potential courses without identifying companies, she said. Dealerships are already in regular contact with instructors to discuss needs, she added.
Buqueras envisions that the presence of Tramontana and new importer Pasha Automotive Services, could create an opportunity at Manatee Technical Institute to not only create new training courses for the automotive industry, but a new dedicated center for the workforce.
Manatee was competing with Broward County for its business, and while it's more likely that Tramontana is coming here because it's searching for facilities, it's not a done deal. Sarasota County could compete for Tramontana's business, too.
"Anytime you work with a business like this, a deal isn't done until it's done," said Karen Stewart, economic development project manager, neighborhood services for Manatee County.
The Port Authority, which is made up of the Board of County Commissioners, told Mutis that the county would present a full court press to bring Tramontana here, including fast-tracking the project and exploring incentive opportunities, and has made the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity aware of the project.
"We will do whatever it takes," Whitmore said.
The company expects to make a decision in October.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.