COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Arthrex, one of Collier County's largest employers, told Collier leaders that the company is concerned about a lack of affordable housing for their workers. David Bumpous, Senior Director of Operations for Arthrex, addressed commissioners at their regular board meeting Tuesday.
"Being in a high-wage, high-tech industry, you would think that it would not be a problem," Bumpous said. "But I'm here to tell you that it is."
He said that his medical device company is having a tough time recruiting workers to fill a growing number of jobs at their facilities in the county. He laid much of the blame on the shortage of affordable housing.
"When we have engineers from other parts of the country that simply tell us it's too expensive to live here, that creates challenges for us," Bumpous said.
He reminded commissioners that Arthrex adds almost $2 billion into the local economy every year. He said that if the county cannot fix the affordable housing problem, the company might have to move more of its business away from Collier. Arthrex has facilities outside of Florida, including South Carolina.
"To have Arthrex, one of the biggest employers in the county, remind us of our responsibility was very important," said Commissioner Penny Taylor.
She said that it's time for the county to begin taking action, by requiring affordable housing in future zoning. She also thinks that there could be more incentives for developers.
"What is our future?" Taylor said. "More gated communities and more retirement people, or do we have room to keep our youth here?"
Commissioners did approve an affordable housing project Tuesday, with 78 units to be developed on Santa Barbara Boulevard.