LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A locally-owned company wants to replace VR Labs in using an empty building to bottle health drinks. Remedy Nutriceuticals was turned down for county money three years ago, but gained success elsewhere. Now, it will ask again for county economic incentive money, probably about $3 million.
"We could use that building [in San Carlos Park] and have 20 to 25 people working in 60 days," says Dave Hastings, President of Remedy.
The company makes Amino Pro-plus, a collagen supplement that is supposed to keep the joints and tensions supple and pain-free. About 200 health clubs and fitness centers in about 18 states sell the product. Those clubs include Omni Fitness in Lee county. Right now, Remedy is using a plant in Texas and a plant in Lakeland to make the amino product. Hastings wants to move that production to Lee County, if he can get some financial help and a suitable building for bottling.
VR Labs received $5 million from taxpayers, after Remedy was rejected for incentive funding in 2010.
VR is promising to bottle health drinks at the facility in San Carlos. But it's tied up in lawsuits and has not produced any drinks locally, nor has it created any manufacturing jobs in Lee.
"It is heart-breaking to see that money lost and no jobs created. I know what we could do with that building, and how we could help the local economy, which needs jobs," says Hastings. "It is a shame, an absolute shame."
Lee commissioner Frank Mann has this reaction: "I would love to wave a magic wand and move someone else into that facility. But we can't do it because of the lawsuits between VR and others. The legal system moves slowly and it will be at least a year before all that is worked out in the courts, maybe longer. So, I don't really see any use for that building until the legal things are untangled."
Hastings is finalizing the details in his application for county money. He hopes to get a hearing before the county commissioners later on this spring.
WINK News called VR Labs, asking whether it would give up claims on the building and allow someone else to use it. As of late Monday afternoon, we had not gotten any response.