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By Dominique Cantelme
From the July/August 2012 issue
Historically, Florida’s economy was based upon industries like cattle farming and agriculture. Today, the state’s strengths lie in areas such as cleantech, life sciences, IT, and logistics and distribution. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Florida’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011 was approximately $754 billion, the fourth largest economy in the United States. This success is made possible by the vast and diverse state with eight key regions that offer geographic, economic and demographic advantages for business.
Northwest Florida (Panhandle) has a workforce that exceeds 700,000 and offers proximity to Southeast U.S. markets, three research universities and military installations that provide a renewable source of skilled workers.
North Central Florida prospers with natural resources, convenience to large markets and intermodal transportation channels such as rail systems and commercial airports. It also is home to the University of Florida and framed by I-75, I-10 and various highways.
Northeast Florida has a land area characterized by natural resources and diverse habitats. Its infrastructure of highways, railways and seaports provides access to global markets and its wide area network (WAN) bandwidth allows businesses to transfer voice, video and data.
With an educated workforce of more than 1.6 million, East Central is part of the state’s High Tech Corridor. Advanced security, digital media, simulation and emerging technologies serve as core economic drivers.
The Tampa Bay area is the 14th largest consumer market in the country with a workforce supported by the University of South Florida. Its seaports and airports create a cost competitive logistics and distribution network with access to the global economy.
The Southwest region sees Florida Gulf Coast University and Technology and Research Parks drawing in new business while providing existing firms with resources to grow. It has two Foreign Trade Zones and a transportation network that includes an international airport, Page Field, a general aviation airport, and I-75.
South Central Florida has a wealth of land available along with waterways, access to multiple metropolitan areas, international airports and deep seaports. Two Foreign Trade Zones; I-75, I-4, and I-95; the Florida Turnpike; four U.S. highways (17, 27, 441, and 98); and 12 state roads traverse or pass near the region.
The Southeast offers international connectivity via several airports and deep water seaports; a large pool of workers; and a multicultural environment. A major telecom hub, the region is the location of Network Access Point, the AMPATH network and many Internet-related companies.
Florida: Location And Business Advantages
Florida is known around the world as a place for sun and fun. But the Sunshine State increasingly is earning a reputation as the place to go for business.
The reason so many people are building a life and a livelihood in Florida is because of the state’s unwavering commitment to building a pro-growth business climate, an effort shared by the state’s Chief Executive Officer, Governor Rick Scott, and the Florida Legislature. Florida values the contribution of business to the state’s economy and quality of life, and its laws and policies reflect that attitude.
Florida makes it possible for businesses to earn a profit. Low taxes, expedited permitting and competitive costs create an environment where businesses can grow and owners and employees can both prosper. Last year alone, under the leadership of Governor Scott, 1,100 burdensome regulations were eliminated. In addition, the Governor led the passage of $1 billion in tax cuts and exempted nearly two-thirds of businesses in the state from punitive taxes.
The state’s investment strategy builds on its greatest assets—its natural features and its human capital.
Florida’s geography makes the state an international point of entry and exit for both goods and people but its multimodal transportation system is what makes it a hub for commerce. With 19 commercial airports, 15 deep water seaports, three spaceports, the second largest network of foreign trade zones, an extensive network of highways and railways and multiple spots for high-speed data transmission, businesses can stay connected and competitive in the global economy.
Florida also is investing in building a world-class workforce. At a time when other states are trimming their budgets for public education, the state increased funding for schools by $1 billion. The state also is raising expectations for students to ensure a high school diploma means graduates are prepared with the knowledge and skills to enter college and challenging 21st century careers.
In addition to providing a pro-growth business climate, Florida also offers an array of incentives to attract investment from companies moving or growing in the state. Led by Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope, Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership primarily responsible for the state’s economic development efforts, provides a customized package of incentives to companies who are considering expansion in the Sunshine State. Incentives range from infrastructure projects to targeted tax relief to funding for job creation.
These efforts have gained national recognition. The country’s leading CEOs rank Florida one of the best states to do business, according to the magazine Chief Executive. Florida ranks first for talent pipeline (education and training of workforce) by the National Chamber Foundation, first (new ranking available here) for transportation infrastructure by Business Facilities and third largest exporter of high tech goods and services by TechAmerica.
While the statistics are impressive, the real measure of success is every new facility opened and each new job created. Within the last year, three major international companies announced plans to expand their operations in Florida.
Harris Corporation, an international communications and IT company, announced plans to build a high-tech center in Palm Bay. The six story, 450,000-square-foot facility will serve as the centerpiece for their most advanced engineering efforts. More than 6,000 jobs are being retained and created as a result of this expansion.
Sykes Enterprises announced plans to open a new 92,000-square-foot call center in Lakeland. The company, which provides customer service to a diverse clientele of businesses in communications, technology, financial services, healthcare, transportation and retail, will create 600 new jobs to staff the operations at the facility.
Coca-Cola Refreshments reported a 20 percent expansion of its facilities in Auburndale. The company is investing $99 million and adding 60 jobs to ramp up production of its popular brand of juice drinks, Simply Orange and Simply Lemonade. Across Florida, Coca-Cola employs more than 6,200 associates in 30 facilities, including seven manufacturing plants and 15 distribution centers.
All of these business expansions were made possible through a customized package of incentives—from transportation infrastructure projects to tax credits for job creation—offered by state and local governments. The results are proof of Florida’s comprehensive strategy to welcome businesses to the great Sunshine State.
To learn more, visit www.eflorida.com or call Enterprise Florida at 855-YES-FLORIDA.
Greater Fort Lauderdale: A Premier Headquarters Site
Greater Fort Lauderdale is located in the center of Florida’s largest metropolitan area with over 150 corporate and international regional headquarters already enjoying the area’s advantages—including such notable names as AutoNation, Citrix, DHL Americas, Elizabeth Arden, Embraer, Heico, Huizenga Holdings, Kaplan Higher Education, Mako Surgical, Marriott International, Microsoft, Nipro Diagnostics and Seacor. All the requisite support services and infrastructure are in place to ensure success. The recent announcements of several major corporate and international regional headquarter projects in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area by Altadis USA, Astor & Black, Emerson, E-Builder, Private Jet Charter, Saveology and the Wendy’s Company provide further “real world” confirmation of the area’s business benefits. “The price of real estate…and the cooperation of the city were tremendous,” said Rick McKenzie, Senior VP of Human Resources at Altadis USA, about the company’s decision to locate in Fort Lauderdale. He added that “among the most critical factors were the transportation infrastructure…South Florida weather [and] the support of the government.” Please visit the headquarters website link at www.lesstaxing.comto view a short video on why so many companies have relocated their headquarters to Greater Fort Lauderdale.
The area’s domestic and international air infrastructure is robust. Anchored by the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood International Airport, with its new $790 million runway scheduled to open in 2014, it houses low-cost domestic carriers such as JetBlue, US Airways, Southwest and Spirit Airlines that offer daily flight service and also is in close proximity to the Miami International Airport for additional flight options. Port Everglades is Florida’s leading container cargo and a major cruise port with two of the largest cruise ships calling it home—the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas. It is in the midst of $72.8 million intermodal yard improvements and $54 million cruise terminal renovations to further enhance its capabilities.
The cost competitive attributes of Florida’s tax structure for both businesses and individuals have long been attested to by the Tax Foundation, highlighted by no state personal income tax—always a key point for consideration, especially for the attraction and retention of employees. Greater Fort Lauderdale’s housing affordability for both single family homes and condominiums has improved dramatically from August 2007, and the large South American and Brazilian populations that live in the area provide a substantial multilingual base of Portuguese and Spanish speaking employees to serve those markets as well as the United States. Greg Burkart, Managing Director of Specialty Tax at Duff & Phelps, the consulting firm that advised Emerson on their new Latin American headquarters location said, “the most important factors for Emerson were the accessibility to Latin America, proximity to other Latin American-related companies in this area and the availability of a multilingual workforce…” Detailed information on selected available office and industrial sites as well as demographic information can be accessed through the Greater Fort Lauderdale ZoomProspector service by visiting www.lesstaxing.com and clicking on the Property and Demographic link.
Greater Fort Lauderdale’s higher education is anchored by Nova Southeastern University (NSU)—the nation’s 8th largest not for profit independent university with more than 28,000 students and 148,000 alumni and whose Chancellor, Ray Ferrero, Jr., serves as the Founding Chairman of the CEO Council. NSU is home to the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, one of the top business schools in the nation, with Florida’s top MBA program. It is the only college of business with “Entrepreneurship” in its name and offers strong curriculums at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. NSU has been ranked first nationally for four consecutive years in awarding doctoral degrees to Hispanics. In addition, Broward College ranks fifth in the country among four-year institutions in awarding associate’s degrees, third to minority students, fourth in graduation of African American students and sixth in producing Hispanic degree-holders. In all, 43 institutions of higher education offer associate degrees or higher within 30 miles of Greater Fort Lauderdale; 11 offer MBA degrees. The services of Workforce One Employment Solutions also are available to provide recruitment assistance for key positions as well as coordination of training for new employees.