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Security firm likely building in Sarasota

BRADENTON -- A multi-use training facility for security and emergency personnel once proposed for Manatee County now appears headed to Sarasota County.

However, the company still may receive some money from Manatee County if it should relocate to Sarasota.

Wide World Security Inc., which is projecting it will create 100 jobs over five years, intended to build a $35 million facility in Lakewood Ranch until the startup’s founder found more suitable land in Sarasota County.

Instead of building a 25,000-square-foot facility on 300 acres in Manatee County, about 11 miles east of Interstate 75 off State Road 70, Wide World Security may build its training center on about 1,000 acres in Sarasota County. The land under consideration is off Fruitville and Vema roads.

Dell Hyland, founder and president of Wide World Security, said he is working to secure the land as well as secure possible economic development incentives in Sarasota County.

When the proposed project was bound for Manatee County, Wide World Security was approved for up to $100,000 over five years in performance-based incentives. The money averaged about $1,000 for each job Wide World Security planned to create in Manatee.

Karen Stewart, economic development program manager for Manatee County, said Wide World Security could still receive some incentives since the company is leasing office space in Lakewood Ranch as its corporate headquarters office. For example, if the company creates 10 jobs in Manatee County it would receive $10,000.

“If they have a location in Manatee County and they create jobs at 115 percent above the county’s average wage they will still be eligible to enter into an agreement with us for those incentives,” Stewart said.

Hyland did not specify how many jobs may be based at its corporate office in Manatee County.

“We’ve been working for over three years in Manatee with the development of this facility and we want to keep our corporate offices in Manatee,” Hyland said. “We value very much our relationship with them. You don’t just bail on somebody that helped you get where you need to be but this decision was based off necessity.”

“There were some potential issues with the land we were looking at in Manatee,” Hyland said. The 300-acre parcel in Manatee County, Hyland said, presented concerns due to wetlands on the site and the lack of vacant land nearby for growth.

“The two-and-a-half mile driving track we’re planning was going to be real dangerously close to the wetlands,” Hyland said. “We did not want to be in a gray area with the wetlands. We want to know we’re 100 percent in compliance.”

Wide World Security’s proposed training center will provide training for police, fire, emergency management and private security agencies.

The first phase of construction, estimated to cost $35 million, is proposed to start in June and will include a 2.5-mile outdoor driving track for high-speed chase trainings.

In addition, the first phase includes the construction of an indoor rifle and pistol range, an agricultural area for urban search and rescue training, and offices and classrooms.

Hyland estimates the first phase will take one year to build. Future phases will include a fire training, facility, a police training facility, an urban search and rescue facility and dormitories that initially will include about 250 units and could be expanded to 1,000 to 1,500 units.

Hyland, a 17-year veteran of the security industry and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, developed a business plan for Wide World Security after participating in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Louisiana.

“We’re trying to get people back to work and get a facility that can benefit all the different agencies as well as the community,” Hyland said.

Deputy Chief David Ezell of the Bradenton Fire Department said the facility could be potential training grounds from time to time for Bradenton firefighters.

“The site that they’re putting together looks very promising,” Ezell said. “Putting together that type of training facility (for fire departments) is extremely costly. It’s beyond consideration.”

The projected cost for the overall project at Wide World Security is $150 million, Hyland said.

He projects that in the company’s first year of operation it will generate $1.1 million in revenue.

And the jobs, which will include armed and unarmed security, and private investigators, will pay on average $36,000 a year.

“What we need to focus on is the fact that they remain in our region,” said Sharon Hillstrom, associate director of the Manatee Economic Development Council. “It appears both counties will benefit from this company.”