iSirona, a high-tech company with roots in Bay County, is expanding in downtown Panama City. The Bay Economic Development Alliance (EDA) announced the company's plans during a Wednesday news conference at iSirona's headquarters in the former ITT Exelis building at 430 West 5th Street.
The company's software allows hospitals to connect medical devices – such as heart monitors, ventilators and blood pressure machines – to their information systems and transfer patient data. That eliminates the need for hospital staff to manually enter the data.
According to the EDA, iSirona's workforce has grown from 33 employees to 100 employees since January 2012. The company plans to create another 100 jobs within the next three years.
The expansion is seen by city officials as a way to keep local talent from leaving the area and a spark for redevelopment. "I see it as a catalyst for the marina project," said Mayor Greg Brudnicki. "You want to get people living down here and you want to get people working down here... so this is a big step."
Dave Dyell, who moved to Bay County in 1993 and founded iSirona in 2008, serves as the company's chief executive officer. He's committed to growing locally, using homegrown software engineers. "I wanted to create jobs for the local college students when they graduate," he said. "The way the market is responding to our software and the innovative way that we're tackling this problem, we really think it's going to continue to grow for years and years to come."
iSirona's expansion was made possible by two grants: $180,000 from the Florida Qualified Target Industry (QTI) tax refund program and $350,000 from the Industry Recruitment, Retention, and Expansion (IRREF) fund, a component of the Oil Spill Recovery Act. Forty-five jobs at an average annual wage of $49,155 must be created and maintained before the grant monies will be paid to the company.
"These are high tech jobs, high wage jobs [and] clean industry right here in Bay County," said Joey Ginn, EDA Chairman. "It's wonderful to see."
Dyell said the company's success is due in part to a corporate culture of "freedom and responsibility" – where creative solutions are encouraged and mistakes are viewed as learning experiences. "When you create that kind of culture where you've eliminated fear and you've given people an opportunity, it's amazing the kinds of work that they'll get done," he said.
iSirona officials said they will use the incentive funds to support the launch of a new software product later this year.