Florida: More Than Fun And Sun

By Dominique Cantelme
From the July/August 2015 Issue

Florida is serious about business. State and economic development leaders are working to bring business to the state and keep it here. Those leaders are working to ensure that the state’s business climate remains favorable to companies of all sizes and industry, including financial and professional services, logistics and distribution and information technology among others.

Business leaders are taking notice of Florida’s efforts. The state ranked No. 2 in the nation for business, according to Chief Executive Magazine’s 2015 Best and Worst States for Business survey.

Enterprise Florida, the principal economic development organization for the state, recently led a delegation of 17 small and mid-sized aviation and aerospace businesses and leaders to the 2015 Paris Air Show. The Florida Pavilion showcased the state’s industry advantages and provided a stage for job creation project announcements.

Embraer—the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets with up to 130 seats—announced it will expand its Florida footprint. The company will base its Embraer Aero Seating Technologies operation in Titusville. The project represents the addition of 150 jobs.

“Our partnership with the state of Florida has been fundamental to our ability to serve the customers in our largest market,” said Embraer’s president and CEO, Frederico Curado.

Florida is the leading state for aviation manufacturing attractiveness, as well as aviation and aerospace manufacturing workforce, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Florida’s defense and homeland security industry got a boost in June when Lockheed Martin announced it will expand its Cape Canaveral facility to support the U.S. Navy’s Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile program. The project will create 130 jobs in the region. Lockheed Martin employs 500 at the facility and more than 12,000 Floridians statewide.

For decades, global leaders in defense, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Pratt & Whitney and Northrop Grumman have chosen Florida for its strong research partnerships and skilled workforce. The state is home to one of the nation’s largest defense and homeland security industries, with 20 active military installations, three unified combatant commands and approximately 17,900 private sector defense companies.

From simulation and training to encryption technologies, Florida’s defense and homeland security companies are at the leading edge of major military and government markets.

After years of aggressive, coordinated efforts, Florida also has established itself as a true hub for the life sciences industry. The state is home to world-renowned biomedical research institutes; more than 1,100 biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device companies; and a foundation of more than 46,000 health care establishments.

Sancilio & Company chose to establish its biopharmaceutical presence in Florida in 2005 and has grown since. In May the company announced they will expand in Palm Beach County, adding 275 positions and a $6.7 million capital investment. This success is attributed to the local partnerships and support.

When it comes to manufacturing, Florida’s manufacturing-specific tax advantages help keep costs lean. The state offers unique sales tax exemptions, including manufacturing machinery and equipment, electricity used in the manufacturing process, and labor, parts and materials for equipment repairs.

These advantages entice manufacturing companies like Boston Whaler to grow their business in Florida. The boat manufacturer has more than doubled its workforce at its Edgewater facility since 2010 and employs more than 600 Floridians.

Boston Whaler President Huw Bower said, “Boston Whaler is committed to creating the safest, easiest to own and most exciting boats on the water, and Florida is truly the best place for us to meet that goal.”

Florida also is a home to headquarters.

Rendering of the USTA National Campus, the new home of American tennis, in Orlando. (Enterprise Florida)

In 2016, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) will open its National Campus in Central Florida. The “New Home of American Tennis” will house the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development divisions. The USTA facility also will serve as a cornerstone for Lake Nona’s Sports Innovation & Performance District, an emerging athletic district with a focus on research, design, innovation and technology.

Dave Haggerty, USTA Chairman of the Board and president said, “We can build a state-of-the-art facility which will further our mission in the country’s top destination market that also provides opportunities for year-round play.”

Companies headquartered in Florida benefit from the state’s large market, skilled workforce and tremendous diversity. In addition, Florida offers world-class business amenities and infrastructure so people, products and ideas can travel fast.

No other site in the Western Hemisphere can match Florida’s strategic geographic location as a gateway to the Americas. Capitalizing on the state’s peninsular location, Florida serves as a global launchpad to the highly sought-after Latin American market and a major international trade center and hub for businesses across all industries. With 15 deepwater seaports; 19 commercial airports; nearly 3,000 miles of freight rail track; 12,000 miles of highway; and even two spaceports, Florida is ready to accommodate the most demanding connectivity requirements.

Businesses have created more than 879,000 private-sector jobs in Florida since December 2010. The state’s annual private-sector job growth rate, now at 3.9 percent, has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012. The statewide unemployment rate stands at 5.7 percent.

Florida isn’t resting on these recent successes. State leaders continue to cut taxes and create an environment where businesses can prosper, all in an effort to make Florida the number one state in the nation for job creation.

Greater Osceola: Leader In Development Of Smart Sensors

Greater Osceola, Florida is leading the world in the development of smart sensors through the establishment of the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC), a $200 million center in Kissimmee, Florida.

Rendering of the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC). (Greater Osceola Partnership for Economic Prosperity)

The $75 billion market for smart sensors will double by 2020 due to increased use in life sciences and health care, transportation and aerospace, energy and agriculture and food production. FAMRC is the world’s first industry-led smart sensor research and incubation facility. The 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility will include 30,000 square feet of Class 10,000 clean room space on a 20-acre site at the intersection of the Florida Turnpike and U.S. Highway 192.

Osceola County (along with Toho Water Authority and Kissimmee Utility Authority) has invested $138 million in FAMRC construction. Other partners in the project include the University of Central Florida ($17 million), the Florida High Tech Corridor Council ($7 million) and Enterprise Florida. The International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR), an industry led group, will manage the Center.

Osceola County also owns 225 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 the business park.

The FAMRC is another step in the effort to prepare for Greater Osceola’s future. Ranked as the tenth fastest growing county in the U.S. by Forbes Magazine, Osceola County leads the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA in growth. By 2040, the Greater Osceola area is expected to double in population to over 600,000.

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 recently approved include East Lake Toho, the Northeast District and North Ranch (totaling another 180,000 acres).

Transportation improvements are well underway to better connect Greater Osceola to the rest of the Metro Orlando region. The 9.7 mile, $130 million first phase of the Poinciana Parkway, currently under construction by the Osceola County Expressway Authority, will connect US 17-92 with I-4 to improve access for the 70,000 residents currently living in the Poinciana area of Osceola County.

Three other segments of expressways also are planned to create a loop connecting urban areas of the County with major highway arteries, providing better transportation access for residents, businesses and visitors. The SunRail system that started service in May 2014 will reach Greater Osceola in 2017, where three stops are planned (Tupperware Brands World Headquarters, Historic Downtown Kissimmee and Poinciana) with high density “transportation oriented developments” at each stop.

Greater Osceola has a workforce ready today. Over 100,000 residents leave the County each day for work. Many of these skilled individuals would rather work closer to home. In addition, there are over 2 million people in the Orlando metro area workforce. Nearly 500,000 college students are within an hour’s drive of Greater Osceola.

Greater Osceola also is preparing a skilled workforce for the future. Osceola County is the only county in Florida that funds STEM education in the local school district. The School District of Osceola County is developing pipelines to make elementary and secondary students aware of careers in advanced technology.

Technical Education Center Osceola, a program of the School District, now operates three centers (Kissimmee, St. Cloud and Poinciana) to provide career education programs. Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to obtain college credit with some even earning an associates degree at the same time they receive their high school diploma.

Valencia College, named Best Community College in the nation by the Aspen Institute in 2014, offers courses at its campus in Kissimmee (across the street from FAMRC), a branch campus in St. Cloud and received approval from the Legislature in 2015 to establish a campus in Poinciana. An associate degree from Valencia can be obtained for as low as $6,000.

Executive office opportunities in well-known developments like Celebration, ChampionsGate and the Osceola Corporate Center (home to the world headquarters of Tupperware Brands Corporation), 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.

With a history steeped in pioneer spirit, Greater Osceola has the tenacity and strength to become a center for technology growth in Central Florida. The Greater Osceola Partnership for Economic Prosperity (GOPEP) was formed in 2013 by the cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud and Osceola County to provide a vehicle for the creation of well-paying new jobs. For free, confidential site location assistance, visit www.greaterosceola.com or contact Bill Martin at bmartin@greaterosceola.com or (407) 742-4251.

This Is Why Greater Fort Lauderdale Is Great

The phrase, “Life. Less Taxing,” is more than a nod to the extraordinarily business-friendly climate, competitive tax structure and zero state income tax that companies enjoy in Greater Fort Lauderdale—it’s a way of life that comes with an innovative, collaborative community that helps residents and businesses succeed.

A large pool of talented workers, inviting quality of life and one of the most competitive tax climates make Greater Fort Lauderdale one of the world’s most attractive business locations for companies of all sizes.

Greater Fort Lauderdale (metropolitan Broward County), home to nearly 200 corporate and international regional headquarters operations, is the geographic and business center of South Florida. With a population of 5.8 million, it is the largest metropolitan region in the Southeast United States.

U.S. and international companies alike appreciate Greater Fort Lauderdale’s strategic location and convenient access to global markets, a multilingual and multicultural professional workforce and numerous education and workforce training programs. Technology, life sciences and other knowledge-based companies benefit from the region’s large and growing pool of skilled, college-educated workers. In the cloud computing/mobile technology sector alone, Motorola, BlackBerry, Foxconn and Ultimate Software are among the companies that have chosen Greater Fort Lauderdale, where their employees can “work in the cloud and live in the sun.”

Greater Fort Lauderdale also is home to many headquarters operations including AutoNation, JM Family Enterprises, Citrix, AeroTurbine, People’s Trust, Spirit Airlines and Elizabeth Arden. A number of companies also have their international/ regional/ Latin American headquarters in Greater Fort Lauderdale including American Express, Microsoft, DHL Express, Emerson, Marriott International and The Wendy’s Company.

As one of the most dynamic business regions in the U.S., CEOs, site selectors and business leaders agree that Greater Fort Lauderdale is a location of choice for companies from around the world. AutoNation, the largest U.S. automotive retailer, is proud to have its corporate headquarters in Greater Fort Lauderdale. “This community has supported us with its outstanding talent, its business-friendly policies, its welcoming spirit, and that special combination of factors is a leading reason why we’ve been able to grow as quickly and as successfully as we have. This is home for us, and we’re looking forward to calling it home for many years to come,” said Mike Jackson, chair and CEO.

Like the leaders of other major companies in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Jackson is an active participant in the Alliance’s CEO Council, a group of top-market CEOs who promote the area’s continuing appeal as a business location.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance is Broward County’s official public/private partnership for economic development. Its mission is to lead Broward County in building a stronger and more diverse economy by stimulating the creation of new jobs and capital investment while facilitating the growth and retention of businesses in Broward County.

With a strategic global location, large skilled workforce and low-tax environment, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers an inviting climate for business success. It’s a warm and inviting home for Fortune 500 companies, multinationals and mid-size and small businesses in a wide array of sectors.

That economic diversity is reflected in Greater Fort Lauderdale’s growing pool of skilled workers in fields like aviation, technology, life sciences, finance, professional and business services, education and healthcare and manufacturing.

Rita and Rick Case of Rick Case Automotive Group hosted Florida Governor Rick Scott, Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and local dignitaries at the grand opening of its headquarters and Kia dealership in Sunrise earlier this year. The five-story, 260,000-square-foot dealership is the largest exclusive Kia dealership in the world. Owned and operated by the wife and husband team of Rita and Rick Case, Rick Case Automotive Group has 16 dealerships including Honda Cars & Cycles, Acura, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealerships in South Florida.

Kellstrom Defense Aerospace, Inc. (KDA), a Merex Group portfolio company, expanded its South Florida operations to the IDI Corporate Park in Miramar. The company added 20 jobs to its workforce of 145 with a capital investment of $5.9 million. KDA has been a leader in providing distribution and program management/supply chain services in the aviation industry since 2001 and is well positioned to manage the Group’s distribution and supply chain management from this central Greater Fort Lauderdale location.

“The investment in our new South Florida facility and the availability of highly trained and experienced aerospace talent in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area supports the business growth we are expecting in the coming years,” commented Chris Celtruda, CEO for the MEREX Group and Kellstrom Defense Aerospace.

ATO Global Solutions HQ Grand Opening: L to R: David Coddington, Alliance VP – Business Development, Kaz Matsuyama, President and CEO – SATO Holdings; Michael Beedles, President – SATO Global Solutions; Bob Swindell – Alliance President & CEO; Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca. (Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance)

SATO Global Solutions (SGS), a wholly owned subsidiary of SATO Holdings, a global leader in Auto-ID solutions, recently held their grand opening ceremony at their new offices in the 110 Tower in downtown Fort Lauderdale. SATO’s choice to locate in Fort Lauderdale is a strong testament to Florida’s strategy of strengthening its competitive technology sector through the recruitment of companies in the targeted industry of technology.

Michael Beedles, President of SGS and head of SATO’s North American operations, said, “We are very excited to expand in Fort Lauderdale, taking advantage of South Florida’s technology talent pool and contributing to competitiveness of businesses through our customized solutions. We look forward to serving businesses locally and globally and contributing to the livelihood of the overall economy.”

Poised For Prosperity In Hernando County

For even the most practiced and successful business owners, choosing where to place a facility—or, more precisely, your future—can be a daunting task. So many factors must be considered: Transportation networks, utility infrastructure, labor pool, taxes and incentives. And the list of variables grows as one factors in a community’s quality of life—schools, public safety and recreation.

Discerning CEOs who are searching Florida for a location to build or expand their business are finding an extraordinary mix of logistics and livability in Hernando County. The inventory of available land and facilities can accommodate projects ranging from massive to modest, and are ideal for everything from warehouse distribution centers, to high-tech manufacturing and assembly plants, to back office operations.

The epicenter of Hernando County’s economic development opportunities is the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Technology Center, a 2,400-acre aviation facility that has two active air traffic-controlled runways (7,000 and 5,000 feet) and is home to more than 140 diverse businesses that employ thousands.

For those whose industry is aviation, the airport offers land on which to build new facilities, but it also is an attractive option for those who wish to lease existing facilities. Businesses that require airport access as part of receiving or shipping for distribution also take advantage of the road transportation network. The airport is adjacent to the Suncoast Parkway, which connects to Tampa International Airport in just a 40-minute drive, and U.S. 41, a north-south route that runs the length of the Sunshine State. The Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center also has CSX rail service.

Prospective buyers who follow State Road 50 through historic Brooksville and drive a few miles east will arrive at One Hernando Center, a 143-acre PDP-zoned property situated at a major crossroads that is the geographic center of Florida. Just one mile from Interstate 75, One Hernando Center tenants also have easy access to Interstate 4, the Florida Turnpike and Orlando via State Road 50. The property’s strategic location was embraced by Walmart, which has operated a massive warehouse distribution center adjoining for 23 years. The property also is well suited for a manufacturing facility.

A smaller, but similarly appealing vacant property also abuts the Walmart distribution center site and has electric, water and sewer in place. This 76-acre parcel also is zoned PDP for industrial development and shares easy access to I-75 and the Tampa and Orlando markets.

Hernando County offers very affordable tax rates and aggressive economic development incentives for prospective tenants of these properties, airport sites and its Enterprise Zone in Brooksville. The staff of the Office of Business Development works closely with public and private agencies to accommodate companies that are contemplating a move to West Central Florida. Hernando has a diverse economy that includes building, manufacturing, agriculture, retail trade services and tourism, as well as government, education and health care.

The pro-business climate in Hernando County is as sunny as the weather forecast. The average annual temperature is 71 degrees, providing year-round access to its top-rated championship golf courses and picture-perfect Gulf of Mexico sunsets. Hernando County also has some of the best fishing on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the matrix of rivers, springs and forests that makes it the heart of Florida’s Adventure Coast.

With the metro markets of Tampa and Orlando only a short drive away, residents in Hernando County have access to a wide range of professional sports venues, concert halls, cultural and fine arts and some of the top-ranked beaches in the U.S. Residents here enjoy big-city conveniences while living in an active suburban community where the cost of living consistently ranks the lowest of Tampa Bay’s seven-county region.

Hernando-based companies with need for highly skilled workers also can draw on the metro markets’ workforces, but it is very likely they will find exactly what they need closer to home. Pasco-Hernando State College, St. Leo University, a robust technical high school and a burgeoning adult education program, as well as the Suncoast Technical Educational Center, provide a pool of well-trained and motivated employees.

International beverage dispensing manufacturer, Micro Matic, is adding 73,000 square feet to its new 40-acre airport campus in Hernando County. Construction began in December 2014 with completion anticipated for September 2015. (Hernando County Office of Business Development)

In recent years, Hernando County has attracted forward-thinking, innovative companies that specialize in aviation, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and information technology. The success of companies such as Micro Matic, Airdyne Aerospace, Baker Parts, Tradesmith, Alumi-Guard, ICTC Global Manufacturing Solutions and Composite Motors, to name a few, are helping to spread the news that Hernando County is not only a prime place to start a business, but the perfect place to stay. The Office of Business Development makes nurturing their partners a priority, and stands ready to assist with expansion plans or anything else that can be done to promote prosperity.

In Hernando County, creating satisfied customers and being good corporate neighbors are more than marketing buzzwords; they are everyday principles. To learn more about one of the best economic development opportunities in Florida, or to receive detailed data about available properties, demographics or the local economy, visit www.hernandobusiness.com, or contact the Office of Business of Development at (352) 540-6400 or obd@hernandocounty.us. They’re ready to help you find your facility—and your future.

Thrive, Grow, Succeed In Santa Rosa County, FL

Situated within the Pensacola MSA of Northwest Florida, Santa Rosa County is one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Florida and the United States with an estimated population of 161,312 (2015) and a growth rate of 5.28 percent since 2011. There are many factors that have contributed to this growth, with one of the top reasons being quality of life. Over the past ten years, Santa Rosa County has consistently ranked as a top five school district within the State of Florida due to its commitment to students and teachers. The school district consists of more than 26,000 students with 17 elementary, 8 middle and 7 high schools. Between 2005 and 2009, the district maintained a High School graduation rate of 87.4 percent. Known for its white sandy beaches and pristine clear blue water, Navarre Beach is a vacationers paradise in Northwest Florida. Another top feature within the quality of life that makes Santa Rosa County attractive to companies and people alike is its crime rate, or the lack thereof. Just recently, Santa Rosa County ranked as having one of the lowest per capita crime rates in the State. And in July 2015, the website Nerdwallet ranked the Pace community number one for “best cities for young families in Florida” based upon home affordability, prosperity and growth, quality of education and family-friendliness.

A strong quality of life is only one of the features that make Santa Rosa County attractive. The area has a rich culture and history in the aviation and defense industry. Santa Rosa County and the entire Northwest Florida region is a target for those companies looking for a well-trained workforce and site-certified greenspace—all to help improve a company’s bottom line.

In U.S. Congressional District 1 in the State of Florida, the Northwest Florida region is the number one district in the United States for retired department of defense personnel with approximately 34,000 individuals. When meeting with manufacturing companies, one of the top questions asked is concerning the labor force and if Santa Rosa is able to meet current and future demand for their company. Having this built-in labor force that understands the mechanics of working for a large organization and working on aircraft becomes a major draw for employers. In addition to the current retired military population, more than 6,000 highly skilled personnel (average age of early 40’s) exit from the military each year to the area.

Like-minded companies tend to migrate toward each other and to their customers. In Northwest Florida, this is no different. The region is home to six military bases with over 500 aviation, aerospace and defense companies that employ more than 60,000 workers. Aviation companies throughout Northwest Florida include L3, Boeing, Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin. Companies want to locate in areas where risks are reduced—and having a cluster of similar companies shows outside industries that they can be successful and profitable in Northwest Florida.

With valuable industrial property located close to Interstate 10 and Whiting Aviation Field, Santa Rosa sites are in close proximity to five major Aerospace OEM assembly facilities. The new Airbus A320 facility in Mobile, AL is an hour drive from its industrial parks, which will allow suppliers to serve Airbus’ just-in-time production schedule, but also allows them to compete in a different market for labor force. Santa Rosa is within a day’s drive to Boeing, Gulfstream and Embraer, all of which are located along the east coast stretching from Charleston to Orlando.

These are just some of the reasons that factor in to why aviation, aerospace, and defense companies are Santa Rosa’s top targets for business recruitment. It also is easy to see why these types of companies fit in the Northwest Florida region with its high concentration of military retirees.

In conjunction with Gulf Power and McCallum Sweeney Consulting, the Santa Rosa EDO was able to certify two industrial parks in Santa Rosa County as shovel ready. Each of these sites went through a rigorous screening process developed by McCallum Sweeney, offering an objective, third party analysis to ensure they were ready for development. This program is designed to make sure that pre-work has been completed, taking the majority of the risk out of the site selection process. To be site certified many qualifications had to be met, including the following:

  • Outside of the 100-year flood zone
  • Proper Zoning
  • Utility able within six months
  • 150,000 GPD minimum for water
  • 100,000 GPD minimum for wastewater
  • Master Development Plan

Gulf Power Company has launched an interactive website to market key industrial sites to lure new businesses to Northwest Florida. FloridaFirstSites.com includes aerial photographs and highlights the details of the industrial sites in Northwest Florida that are going through the company’s site certification program.

This is only a sample of what Santa Rosa County has to offer new companies and its citizens. To learn more please visit SantaRosaEDO.com or contact Shannon Ogletree, Executive Director at the Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office at (850) 623-0174 or shannon@santarosa.fl.gov.