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Focus on Manatee: Port Manatee offers ideal home for high-tech security radar firm

A globally recognized high-tech firm specializing in drone detection and related security radar systems is among the numerous varied small businesses to have found a perfect home at Port Manatee.

When DMT Radar & Security Systems moved its headquarters to the Port Manatee Intermodal Center from Northern Virginia in late 2017, the ability to test systems in great weather, without need to shovel snow in winter, was just one of the key considerations.

Headquartered in Sterling, Virginia, since its founding in 2002, DMT (short for Detection Monitoring Technologies) was based in the shadow of busy Dulles International Airport and the nation’s capital — not an ideal place for flying drones and engaging in other activity requiring relatively clear airspace.

DMT leaders, seeking nicer year-round weather and a more favorable place for operations, set sights on Florida and were soon collaborating with the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp., which not only pointed them to the Port Manatee Intermodal Center but also introduced them to Manatee Technical College and the state’s CareerSource Florida workforce development program.

The latest hire among the five DMT employees based in the Port Manatee Intermodal Center is completing studies at Manatee Technical College, while DMT leadership is looking to CareerSource Florida in its search to bolster its electronic technician contingent as the firm expands its business.

DMT already has grown into a world-renowned force in the security radar realm, with a focus on drone detection, since an initial major contract with the U.S. Marine Corps for efforts related to the Second Persian Gulf War.

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Carlos Buqueras is the executive director at Port Manatee.

DMT customers are in as far-flung locales as Norway, Italy, Kosovo, the United Arab Emirates and Australia. Those deploying DMT technologies closer to home include TECO Energy and Port Tampa Bay, with several additional U.S. port customers from Massachusetts to Louisiana and Texas.

Not only do DMT systems play an integral role in protecting seaports, waterways, airports and borders, they also are frequently deployed, under contracts with the FBI, at high-profile outdoor events, from annual Fourth of July festivities in Washington to the NFL’s Super Bowl on the first Sunday in February, the Masters Tournament every April and auto racing’s Indianapolis 500 in May.

At this past May’s Indy 500, for example, a DMT system succeeded in detecting an unauthorized drone and, through slew-to-cue integration between radar and surveillance cameras, pinpointing its operator for apprehension by FBI agents.

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A DMT Radar & Security Systems technician test-flies a drone over Port Manatee from his perch atop the Port Manatee Intermodal Center. Provided photo

DMT’s systems are assembled at the Port Manatee Intermodal Center, with ready access to clear testing in the air and over the water. Manatee County metalworkers are contracted to perform assembly work as well.

The successful relocation of DMT from Virginia to the vibrant Port Manatee business community is a solid indicator why the Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port area was ranked No. 1 on MoneyRates.com’s list of best U.S. locations for young entrepreneurs.

The International Trade Hub at Port Manatee, founded in 2014 in the Port Manatee Intermodal Center, is another draw for emerging small businesses seeking to spread their global commerce wings.

Port Manatee may be known most these days for moving record cargo volumes, but it is so much more, serving as a catalyst for a broad spectrum of burgeoning international commerce. It is thus not surprising that Port Manatee’s contributions to the region’s economy exceed $2.3 billion a year, with direct and indirect support of more than 24,000 jobs, all without levying of a penny of ad valorem taxes.

Carlos Buqueras is the executive director at Port Manatee and can be reached at cbuqueras@portmanatee.com.

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