The Sunshine Economy: Manufacturing

Jul 26, 2013

Credit Tom Hudson

On the right is a picture of lancets.

These are small devices used by diabetics to prick their fingers in order to test their blood for sugar. The maker of these devices, Specialty Medical Supplies, is based in Coral Springs. The company was manufacturing up to 100 million of them each month in China until June of this year, when the company's president, Chip Starnes, was taken hostage during a visit to his Beijing plant.

Starnes was in Beijing to transfer some manufacturing activities to a new plant in India while keeping some in China. Some workers were losing their jobs, but most were keeping them. All of the employees, including those he continued to employ, wanted severance pay.

Join host Tom Hudson Mondays at 9:00 a.m. for WLRN's ongoing series, The Sunshine Economy, a weekly look at the key industries transforming South Florida into a regional powerhouse.
Credit WLRN

Today, Starnes is back home in Coral Springs. He is free but his plant is now barricaded and shut down. Despite his experience, he has no plans to bring his manufacturing closer to home.

Our region is not known as a manufacturing center yet state and national politicians regularly push for more manufacturing jobs. Gov. Rick Scott was successful this spring in getting the Florida legislature to erase the sales tax on manufacturing equipment.

On Monday's Sunshine Economy we examine South Florida's manufacturing industry. Hear from Chip Starnes who says he has to manufacture overseas to keep his costs low. We will talk with a top executive at aerospace parts manufacturer HEICO, which is based in Hollywood. We will hear from New Wave Surgical in Pompano Beach about why it decided to pursue manufacturing here. And Doug Hanks from the Miami Herald will explain how local economic development officials really don't spend a lot of time trying to attract manufacturers to South Florida.

How can South Florida draw more manufacturing jobs? Tell us. You can also share your thoughts by leaving us a message at 305-330-9576.