May 28, 2012
By Josh Salman
MANATEE -- Robert Brady's office decor resembles things you would find in a 15-year-old boy's bedroom.
From the life-sized designs of power sport vehicles on the walls to the dual-screened Mac on his desk and even the folding electrical bicycle just outside the door, the toys and designs at Brady's fingertips are enough the satisfy even the most tech-savvy dreamer.
For Brady and his company, ROBRADY Design, it's all about business.
Based near the airport in southern Manatee County, ROBRADY is a product development firm that designs everything from electric vehicles to exercise equipment and patient monitoring devices.
The company also works with young entrepreneurs to help bring their research to reality, helping sprout tech companies across Florida.
While it's no Silicon Valley, the Manatee-Sarasota region has emerged as a growing area for the technology industry -- from small startups to the headquarters of multimillion-dollar publicly traded corporations.
Officials now have zoned in on the sector as their primary target for economic development, hoping to lure high-paying jobs through companies built to survive a new-age economy.
"Florida does things other than banking, real estate and hospitality," Brady said. "This is a great sector for Florida to grow. Like minds like to be in the same area."
Some of Florida's most prominent business leaders are working on a collaborative to accomplish just that -- accelerating the area's tech advancements through a partnership with state universities.
Florida's High-Tech Corridor Council is a state-funded initiative for the 23-county region that stretches across the middle of the state through Tampa and down to Manatee and Sarasota.
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