Collier County businesses balance increasing cost of living for employees

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Erik Papenfuss. (Credit: WINK News)
Erik Papenfuss. (Credit: WINK News)

There is a push to get more manufacturing to Collier County. While more workers with specialized skills are finding jobs, the question is whether they can afford the cost of living.

Some might call traffic and construction the soundtrack of Collier County. But now, machines are chiming in from growing manufacturing businesses.

Erik Papenfuss, president of Lenkbar, runs a company that makes medical tools targeted for surgeons. Papenfuss believes many businesses enjoy a relationship with North Naples neighbor and medical device manufacturer, Arthrex. That allows him to commit to his employees for the long term.

“A lot of my employees I’ve had for over 15 years and they’ve grown with us,” Papenfuss said. “We started training them earlier on in life and as we come through, they’re making over six figures or more.”

That lucrative salary is a good thing because the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce admits the cost of housing is a “long term” problem. It drives some businesses and workers away from the county.

However, the CEO of Apollo Metro Solutions, Uli Altvater, told WINK News Collier County lit the way for their street lighting business.

“Here in Collier County,” Altvater said, “you see our lights on Pine Ridge Road, on Vanderbilt Beach Road, on Santa Barbara Boulevard.”

The chamber wants growth in production because a diverse economy is a stable one that pays well. Altvater said his employees could work and enjoy Collier County.

“Support we got from Collier County, from the Department of Transportation, was very, very helpful,” Altvater said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

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