By Dominique Cantelme
From the July/August 2014 issue
Florida’s economy grew faster than the national average last year. According to government figures, its economic output—the state equivalent of the gross domestic product—grew by 2.2 percent to top $800 billion. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data/Raymond James Financial listed the fastest growing sectors as: hotels/lodging and food services which grew by 4.1 percent, construction which grew by 3.9 percent and transportation and warehousing which grew by 3.8 percent.
Florida’s rebound from the recession has created an economic environment that has been drawing even more businesses to the state. This success has led officials to continue making strategic investments for an even bigger lure.
Gov. Rick Scott recently signed a $77 billion state budget that took effect on July 1. The largest in Florida history, it provides tax cuts and reduced fees as well as allocations for further business development. In addition to adding new money to public schools, state colleges and universities, the budget includes $20 million for Enterprise Florida Inc., $19 million for Space Florida, $5 million for the Florida Sports Foundation, $74 million for Visit Florida’s tourism marketing and promotion efforts and $71 million for the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).
Cissy Proctor, director of the Division of Strategic Business Development at the Florida DEO, stated that, “This budget and all these tax cuts really do reflect that tax cuts and smart investments are both things that really have a gravitational pull on businesses.” She also noted that Florida continues to attract individuals and their investment capital from high-tax states.
Speaking with regard to Florida’s condition with jobs, tourism, manufacturing, housing values and other measurements a few years ago, Proctor said, “The future wasn’t that bright, but I think today we see quite a different picture. We really are in the midst of writing a turnaround story and our recovery here in Florida is leading the nation.”
The proof is in the relocations. Hertz, Boeing, USAA, Amazon, Lockheed Martin and FedEx already have made the move to the state and according to first-quarter data released by Coral Gables-based Washington Economics Group, consumer spending in Florida grew 5.8 percent from last year.
CAPE CORAL, FL: GROW YOUR BUSINESS IN PARADISE
Cape Coral, FL is poised for robust expansion across the board: in business and residential growth. Located on the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida, Cape Coral is the largest city between Tampa and Miami. At 120 square miles, it is the third largest Florida city by land mass, yet maintains a small town feel set amidst 400 miles of sparkling canals along with 27 miles of shoreline.
Southwest Florida’s natural amenities and unbeatably low cost of living and doing business attract businesses from around the world. Cape Coral’s an open slate for key sectors that are planning to expand or relocate, particularly corporate headquarters, light manufacturing and wholesale distribution, and professional/ back office support operations.
Cape Coral offers more than 60 square miles of unimproved commercial and residential land. Cape Coral is recognized for innovation. It touts the Southwest Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plant—the oldest continuously operating municipal RO treatment facility in the world—capable of producing 15 million gallons of potable water daily. The North RO Plant, completed in 2010, is capable of processing 12 million gallons/and is poised to meet build-out demands.
During the last decade, the city was the third fastest-growing city in the U.S.—and is projected nationally by Forbes to be the No. 1 fastest-growing city of the next decade.
The benefits of locating your facilities in Cape Coral include: The region’s largest available workforce; customized economic development incentives (combined state, county and city incentives are available); low taxes (no state personal income taxes and state sales tax of only 6 percent); strategic location for international shipping and metropolitan getaways; quality business sites at competitive prices; and tremendous opportunities in site selection.
Cape Coral hosts diverse investment zones, commercial corridors and industrial parks suitable for a wide range of corporate and entrepreneurial pursuits. With this in mind, the Cape Coral Economic Development Office (EDO) designs customized development incentives for qualified projects aimed at creating well-paying jobs. Some of the opportunities available include:
Mixed-Use: Concourse at Cape Coral is a 170-acre planned development district ideally located in the development triangle between Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Port Charlotte. The city owns this land and is seeking a public-private partnership for this site, nestled in a natural setting with characteristic Cape Coral water views. Concourse features 34 acres of preservation lands and a proposed entertainment district, which could include a hotel, theater, restaurants, bars or a conference center. New conceptual plans offer two options: as a new Retail District or an Office Park.
Waterfront: The city is exploring the redevelopment of its waterfront areas to include additional mixed-use offerings. The Bimini Basin area is a good example that offers a unique opportunity to explore a public-private relationship to revitalize an important component of the downtown core while embracing one of the city’s oldest established waterfront communities.
Retail: Numerous existing retailers in Cape Coral have experienced tremendous annual sales and, in some instances, are the largest grossing stores within their respective chains. This reflects the retail market’s vast potential in the city.
Medical, Wellness and Professional: The Veterans Investment Zone (VIZ) encompasses more than 430 acres of undeveloped land within one mile of the new regional Lee County VA Healthcare Center in northeast Cape Coral. The $131 million state-of-the-art facility employs a staff of 450 and serves 1,000 patients daily. The clinic is a powerful anchor for economic development for medical parks and offices, assisted living facilities, retail services, hotels and other amenities.
For information about available properties, investment opportunities and economic development incentives for qualifying projects, contact the City of Cape Coral Economic Development Office at (239) 574-0444, (866) 573-3089 or [email protected].
LIFE, LESS TAXING IN GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE
Three international airports, three major seaports, seven executive airports, and 40 colleges and universities as well as 23 miles of beaches, 300 miles of waterways, 40 golf courses, and average yearly temperatures of 82°F are only some of the reasons to relocate to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. People can also enjoy “Life. Less Taxing” since there is no state personal income tax—a key point for consideration, especially for the attraction and retention of key employees. As longtime Fort Lauderdale resident Wayne Huizenga says, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep!” The cost-competitive attributes of Florida’s tax structure for both businesses and individuals have been ranked the nation’s 5th best tax business climate for eight consecutive years.
Chief Executive Magazine’s 2014 survey of CEOs ranked Florida #2 on its listing of “Best/Worst States for Business.” And Business Facilities Magazine honored the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and its CEO Council as their top Economic Development Private-Public Partnership in 2012 and 2014 and their highest honor “Economic Development Excellence Award (Population over 600K)” in 2013.
Located in the center of Florida’s largest metropolitan area with over 150 corporate and international regional headquarters already enjoying the benefits of a Greater Fort Lauderdale location—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. Visit the headquarters website link at www.lesstaxing.com to view the short video on why so many companies have relocated their headquarters to Greater Fort Lauderdale. The recent announcements of several major corporate and international regional headquarter projects in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area by Altadis USA, Anthem Education, Emerson, E-Builder, Nyrstar, Parallon, Private Jet Charter, Prolexic Technologies, Stemtech International and the Wendy’s Company help provide further “real world” confirmation of the area’s business benefits.
Frank Cappadoro, deputy general manager for Nyrstar, says the company was on track to move into its new permanent home at 350 Las Olas in downtown Fort Lauderdale in March. The mining segment of the company was headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, before moving to Broward.
Cappadoro says Nyrstar likes the direct access that the three South Florida airports give the company to its operations in Canada, the U.S., Chile, Peru and Mexico. “To travel from Vancouver to our mine in Patagonia—a three-hour flight south of Santiago, Chile—it would take almost a full 40 hours to get there,” he says. “From Miami, we can make the trip in only 15 hours, even with a layover.”
Cappadoro says Fort Lauderdale “has availability of medium-range housing options, less traffic than Miami and a great school system. Our employees can target where to live based on access to certain schools.”
Local economic development support helped seal the deal, he adds. “Robin Ronne and his team at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance CEO Council did a great job in fast-tracking the process,” says Cappadoro. “It was totally seamless. The City of Fort Lauderdale helped us with the construction permits needed in order to build our space. We received a concierge service and our permits were done in less than two weeks. When it came time to come up to bat, the CEO Council delivered.”
Nyrstar was joined by a parade of headquarters relocations and expansions in Broward last year, including Anthem Education. Anthem chose Fort Lauderdale as the location to expand its new consolidated North American headquarters. The 40,000-square-foot office will employ 70 new and 85 existing workers. “Greater Fort Lauderdale provides us with an expansive area that welcomes growing businesses and a rich and diverse pool of talent for future growth,” noted David Knobel, CEO of Anthem. “We appreciate the assistance provided by Gov. Rick Scott, Enterprise Florida, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance CEO Council in our selection process.”
Greater Fort Lauderdale’s domestic and international air infrastructure is robust and is anchored by the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood International Airport (FLL). A new $790 million runway is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, and low-cost domestic carriers such as JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and US Airways provide daily flight service. The close proximity of the Miami International Airport provides additional options.
Greater Fort Lauderdale’s higher education is anchored by the nation’s 9th largest not for profit independent university—Nova Southeastern University (NSU)—which is comprised of more than 26,000 students; 152,000 alumni; and Chancellor Ray Ferrero, Jr. who 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 U.S. with Florida’s top MBA program, strong curriculums at both the graduate and undergraduate level and the only college of business with “Entrepreneurship” in its name. The services of CareerSource One Employment Solutions are also available to provide recruitment assistance for key positions as well as coordination of training for new employees.
GREATER OSCEOLA: BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE FUTURE
Greater Osceola, which includes the Cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud and Osceola County, Florida, will be the home to a new $115 million advanced manufacturing research center, according to an agreement announced by the University of Central Florida, Osceola County and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council in June 2014.
The Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC) will be the world’s first industry-led smart sensor research and incubation facility. The 160,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility will include 70,000 square feet of Class 10,000 clean room space and 30,000 square feet of office space on a 20-acre site at the intersection of the Florida Turnpike and U.S. Highway 192.
FAMRC, constructed and owned by Osceola County, will be managed by the University of Central Florida.
Osceola County also owns 120 acres adjacent to the FAMRC site that will be developed into a business park. Private companies choosing to collaborate on research at FAMRC, or suppliers to the sensor industry, will be primary targets for recruitment to the business park.
Greater Osceola has land available to accommodate the projected growth. Over 100,000 acres are currently within the designated Urban Growth Boundary, more than Orange and Seminole Counties combined. Neighborhood planning activities include East Lake Toho, the Northeast District and Deseret Ranch (a 350,000 acres working cattle ranch).
Executive office opportunities are available in well-known developments like Celebration, ChampionsGate and the Osceola Corporate Center (Tupperware), combined with the massive Poinciana Office and Industrial Park (home to Gatorade and Lowe’s Distribution) provide a wide variety of potential locations for new business and industry. For free, confidential site location assistance, contact Bill Martin at [email protected] or (407) 742-4251.
TAYLOR COUNTY: NORTH FLORIDA’S RISING STAR
Taylor County, located in Florida’s Big Bend region adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, is part of Florida’s Nature Coast, known for its abundance of natural resources and environmental treasures.
Committed to thoughtful, planned growth and responsible land stewardship, citizens, business leaders and government officials worked together to create a solid economic development roadmap for the future, including an unparalleled 128,000-acre Master Development Plan. This plan includes three mega sites encompassing 14,500 acres designated as Regional Employment Centers, a state-approved county land use classification that includes industrial development; the plan also allocates land for mixed-used residential communities and large-scale agricultural preservation space.
Industry leaders from across the country and around the world will find a perfect trifecta in Taylor County: large tracts of land approved for development, quick access to a wide range of multi-modal transportation solutions and an outstanding quality of life. A significant benefit of relocating to Taylor County is the reduced cost of doing business. Taylor County’s efficient and effective pro-business environment reduces time and money spent by expediting governmental decisions for permits and other proceedings. Its cooperation between local, county and state governments is excellent.
Taylor County offers an array of locations for companies to locate or expand. From the business district in and around Perry (County seat), to coastal locations along the Steinhatchee River, to any one of the Regional Employment Centers or other areas within the master plan, the TCDA is available to make doing business in Taylor County seamless and productive.
Truly Florida’s rising star, Taylor County is poised for growth with the perfect balance of structure, an impressive development plan and preservation. Learn more at Florida’s RisingStar.com or call (850) 584-5627.
HERNANDO COUNTY: HIDDEN GEM NO MORE
Hernando County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. Affordable housing options combined with an excellent transportation network, growing employment opportunities and a premier quality of life are a testament as to why Hernando County has become the obvious choice for both a home and business location.
The Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center is home to more than 120 high tech manufacturers and distributors. With more than 2,400 acres of land available for lease, runway access and CSX rail service, the Technology Center is an industrial gem. Located adjacent to the Suncoast Parkway and US 41, it’s just a quick 40 minute drive (and only two traffic lights) to Tampa International Airport. ICTC Global Manufacturing Solutions, a long time tenant at the technology center recently chose to expand in Hernando County. The president, Sareet Majumdar, recently commented, “Hernando County is a hidden gem in Florida. We have chosen to expand our facility by 44,000 square feet and chose to stay in Hernando, because it is close to major transport hubs, has a strong local workforce and has a local government that is supportive of its businesses.”
Additionally, with I-75 and SR 50 just minutes away, transportation infrastructure is readily available. And it’s not just the airport land that makes Hernando County so appealing; industrial mega-sites located within one mile of I-75 have been begun to pique the interest of developers and distribution centers around the country.
With more than 150,000 available workers in a 30-mile radius, finding skilled employees pose no challenge. The Tampa Bay Region provides access to more than 1.3 million potential employees. Hernando County is home to five high schools, including a $40 million technical high school specializing in manufacturing, technology and graphic arts, and in 2014 will begin an aviation and aerospace program. The schools offer a partnership for placement of employees and/or interns. Post-secondary institutions within the region offering technical as well as two and four year degrees include Pasco-Hernando State College, St. Leo University, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg College and University of Tampa. Within reach are the University of Florida and University of Central Florida.