The Sunshine State Is Bright For Business

Beyond the beautiful beaches and tourist destinations, Florida has proven to be an ideal locale for a variety of businesses.

By BF Editors
From the July/August 2022 Issue

Think of Florida and you think of world-class beaches, Disney World, the Everglades, and of course alligators, but to limit the state’s descriptors to those few elements does it an injustice.

Florida is the third biggest state in the country by population and has the fourth biggest economy. In fact, its GDP is larger than all but 16 countries.

A diverse and thriving economy and competitive cost of doing business­­—coupled with a top-ranked labor force and pro-business climate—have attracted companies from across a broad array of fields. With the third largest workforce in the U.S., Florida has a large and diverse labor pool from which business can draw from.

Florida Business
(Photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale)

Florida has been ranked as the top state in the U.S. in terms of tax policy which makes the state an attractive place to do business. Its low business taxes and quicker, less costly, and more predictable permitting processes appeals to business looking to call Florida home. Companies are also drawn to the state’s affordable land and lower labor and capital costs.

The state also makes it easy to achieve a work-life balance—something driving many workers post pandemic. In addition to its welcoming business climate, residents and visitors know Florida’s quality of life is hard to rival. Palm lined beaches with white powdery sand, wide variety of recreational activities, diverse culture, theaters, museums and an affordable cost of living are just some of the reasons that make the Sunshine State attractive to so many people and businesses alike.

Greater Fort Lauderdale: East Coast Attraction

A large pool of skilled professionals, an inviting quality of life, and one of the most competitive tax climates in America make Greater Fort Lauderdale one of the world’s most attractive business locations.

Greater Fort Lauderdale (metropolitan Broward County) is home to more than 200 corporate and international regional headquarters, including AutoNation, Chewy, Citrix, El Al Airways, Hotwire Communications, JetBlue Travel Products, Kaplan Inc., Magic Leap, Spirit Airlines, Virgin Voyages, West Marine, and UKG. It is the geographic and business center of South Florida, whose population of 6.1 million makes it the largest metropolitan region in the Southeast U.S.

Florida Business
Representatives of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance team, El Al Airways, and Broward County, Florida (Photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale)

Companies, both those based in the U.S. and internationally, 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. Aviation, technology, business, financial and professional services, life sciences, manufacturing, and other knowledge-based companies benefit from the region’s large and growing pool of skilled, college-educated workers.

There are many key business advantages to choosing Greater Fort Lauderdale including: low taxes and operating costs that support business success; a diverse multilingual, multicultural workforce continuously enhanced through the education of 300,000 college students each year; experienced C-level executives, managers, and supervisors; inviting entrepreneurial business climate for new ventures; state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure; and a central location in the South Florida metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with a population 6.1 million.

Other advantages include easy access to domestic and international markets with three international airports, including convenient service to Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe and highly ranked public and private schools, colleges, and universities. The area also boasts attractive homes and condos for singles, couples, and families as well as an unsurpassed lifestyle.

There have been several recent business expansions and relocations as of late. American Queen Voyages, an overnight, North America river and lake cruise operator, relocated its headquarters from Indiana to Fort Lauderdale and added 100 new jobs. DNA Labs International is adding 40 new jobs and taking 50,000 square feet of space in Deerfield Beach. El Al, Israel’s national airline, announced it will relocate its Americas headquarters, currently located in New York City and Long Island, NY, to the City of Margate. Future Tech Enterprise located its new Executive Headquarters in downtown Fort Lauderdale. This operation is used for various functions including administrative, customer engagement, executive meetings, marketing, sales, and technical support.

Additionally, Funtrition, a manufacturer of gummy vitamin products, will be creating 100 jobs, retaining 42 jobs, and making a $9 million capital investment in Miramar. ICON International, a company that provides a bartering service for businesses of all sizes and industries, will be adding 100 jobs at its Fort Lauderdale office. Memic Innovative Surgery, located in Fort Lauderdale and Israel, received a funding round of $96 million earlier this year to commercialize its technology. Its Fort Lauderdale facility will employ at least 35 employees.

Lastly, Norse Atlantic Airways will be locating its U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, creating 15 jobs, as it begins direct flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to Paris, London and Oslo in 2022. And West Marine, a national brand that operates a chain of boating supply and fishing retail stores, is locating its national headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, creating 225 jobs, making an $800,000 capital investment and utilizing 50,000 square feet of office space.

Pasco County: Open For Business

With a population of more than 561,000, Pasco County, FL, is one of the fastest growing areas in the Tampa Bay region. Pasco is located in a prime location with direct access to major interstate highways, CSX Rail Line, North America’s #1 Airport¹, Tampa International Airport, and Florida’s largest seaport, Port Tampa Bay.

Pasco County has industrial sites available for development with strong employment incentive programs in place. The Pasco EDC Ready Sites program assesses and evaluates large tracts of land for industrial development. These sites are located throughout the county and have access to industrial quality utilities.

Pasco County
In Pasco County, the Amazon Robotics Sortation Center is the first Pasco EDC Ready Site to be sold. (Photo: Pasco County Economic Development Council)

With a workforce greater than 253,700², education and schools focus on curriculums with over 32 K-12 career technical education programs. There are many higher education opportunities offered throughout the county, including AmSkills apprenticeship program which offers a bootcamp to students interested in the manufacturing industry and provides direct access to employers who are hiring. The University of South Florida, Saint Leo University, Rasmussen University, and Pasco Hernando State College are among the few of the top schools educating the Pasco County workforce. Pasco EDC’s workforceCONNECT program works with both employers and career seekers by providing current data trends and showing different career pathways on the award-winning website.

Supporting Start-ups. The Pasco EDC SMARTstart program provides entrepreneurs an opportunity to get their business up and running. According to Bill Cronin, Pasco EDC President/CEO, the program provides access to education, collaboration, funding, workspace, and guidance. Cronin noted that three incubator locations throughout the county provide meeting and office space as well as access to a commercial kitchen. “The SMARTstart program has everything entrepreneurs need to get started on their way to success,” Cronin said.

Recent announcements include the first Ready Site being sold to Amazon for a Robotics Sortation Center. Amazon purchased Eagle Industrial Park; the first Pasco EDC Ready Site sold. This is the second Amazon facility to make Pasco County home, and the first fulfillment center which will feature an extensive robotics system. The logistics and distribution company is investing $150 million in a new 517,220-square-foot Amazon Robotic Sortation Center (ARSC) and will be home to 500 employees.

Meanwhile, e-commerce company NVGTN recently purchased property in the Trinity Corporate Center and plans to invest $15 million in a 100,000 square foot facility to house both their customer service and fulfilment operations to which they will be adding at least 30 new full-time positions.

Meanwhile, one of Penny for Pasco’s supported speculative building projects is now full. In 2018, Pasco County Commissioners approved a 10-year, $7 million Penny for Pasco loan to HP Asturia, LLC (Harrod Development) to build Asturia Corporate Center. This $26 million, 235,000 square foot speculative “Flex-Industrial” project was built to meet the demands of Pasco’s rapidly growing industrial sectors. Asturia Corporate Center is now at full capacity filling 235,000 square feet with a mix varying of target industry sectors.

¹ Ranked by size and region by Airports Council International annual Airport Service Quality Awards
² Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (Dec. 2021)

St. Lucie County: Prime Southeast Florida Location

What do the Sansone Group, Tambone Companies, Hope Commercial Holdings, JBL Asset Management, the Silverman Group, Seefried Industrial Properties, Stonemont Financial Group, and others have in common? All are developing industrial facilities in St. Lucie County, Florida.

Located midway between Miami and Orlando, within a three-hour drive of 70% of Florida’s population, St. Lucie County offers, by far, southeastern Florida’s lowest industrial land cost, unmatched speed-to-market, and eight commerce parks with 5.8 million square feet of speculative industrial facility space.

Florida Business
In St. Lucie County, Legacy Park at Tradition by the Sansone Group continues to attract tenants. (Photo: Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County)

The sites have excellent access to Interstate 95 and Florida’s Turnpike, as well as options for rail, ocean, and air transit. St. Lucie County is the northernmost point in Florida where I-95 and the turnpike meet. The entire county is a designated Foreign Trade Zone.

The county and its two cities, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie (Florida’s seventh largest city), provide exceptional speed-to-market. For example, a 106,000-square-foot expansion with environmental considerations was approved in 41 days, and 1.1 million square feet of new construction in 89 days.

“In addition to our location, land availability, low costs, and workforce our county, municipalities and the EDC work closely together to ensure companies interested in creating jobs here receive expedited review, tax incentives if qualified, and the kind of sincere welcome not often experienced elsewhere,” said Pete Tesch, President of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County.

Industrial and commerce parks with speculative facility construction or permitting currently underway include:

  • Legacy Park at Tradition by the Sansone Group which features a 168,000 square foot Class A industrial facility slated for 2022 occupancy, a 520,000-square-foot facility for 2023, plus 5.4 million square feet of development-ready vacant land.
  • St. Lucie Commerce Center by Hope Commercial Holdings: up to 1.1 million-square-foot project with a 2023 projected occupancy.
  • Interstate Commerce Center by JBL Asset Management features up to 225,000 square feet, ready in 2023.
  • Five additional parks leasing from 16,000 to 1.1 million square feet, ready in 2022 and 2023.

The Port St. Lucie MSA offers a dynamic workforce of 230,000+ and low average labor costs. A 2021 study noted that 62.4% of the county’s workforce out-commutes, highlighting opportunity to draw these commuters to new local jobs.

Robust career and technical training programs are offered by St. Lucie Public Schools and Indian River State College (IRSC). In addition to degree programs, IRSC provides short-term, in-demand career certifications. With a 98% high school graduation rate and 35+ career and technical education programs, St. Lucie’s non-college-bound youth have many options to prepare for successful careers in targeted industries.

In addition to direct access via I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike, Highway 70 connects the county to Florida’s west coast. Florida East Coast Railroad runs along U.S. 1 and the 3,660-acre Treasure Coast International airport has U.S. Customs officials on-site and a full-service FBO.

St. Lucie County is in a spectacular setting with enviable natural resources—21 miles of pristine coastline and beaches, 20,000+ acres of parks and preserves, and miles of waterways.

Hernando County: A Tampa Bay Community

A Great Place to Start, The Best Place to Stay. Hernando County, in the dynamic Tampa Bay Region, welcomes you with the perfect blend of business and lifestyle opportunities. Availability, affordability, accessibility, and community, that’s what the region is all about.

The Brooksville–Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Technology Center (BKV) serves up an abundance of opportunity just 40 minutes north of Tampa International Airport. Perfect for aviation-related businesses, this general aviation airport features a 7,000-foot ILS equipped primary runway (with plans to extend to 8,000 feet), an air traffic control tower and newly revealed airside development parcels.

The Technology Center is a premier business location and Hernando County’s epicenter of economic development. An expansive 2,400 acres, BKV’s master planned campus boasts features that include available manufacturing buildings, 1,000+ acres of land for development, sites with direct access for aircraft movement and parking, and a Duke Energy Ready Site 285-acre parcel with infrastructure in place.

Florida Business
In Hernando County, FL, the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Technology Center air traffic control tower. (Photo: Hernando County)

With access to more than 300,000 workers within a 30-minute drive, a technical high school, and the Wilton Simpson Technical College nearby, you can see why BKV is home to successful businesses such as Airdyne Aerospace, Pem-Air Turbine Engine Services, American Aviation Flight Academy, AccuformNMC, Barrette Outdoor Living, and Micro-Matic USA to name just a few.

Accessibility and transportation are essential to business so, with five major highways crisscrossing Hernando County, shipping and receiving is a breeze. On the east side of the county, just one mile from Interstate 75 and State Road 50—central Florida’s east-west artery—and 40 miles from the Florida Turnpike, several developers are planning large scale projects. Besides Interstate 75, north-south routes include US 19, the Suncoast Parkway (FL589) and US 41. The latter two run adjacent to the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center, providing a two-stoplight direct connection to Tampa International Airport.

A business-friendly community, Hernando County is committed to growing industry. The county has invested in the BKV Tech Center by providing infrastructure ready sites for business expansion needs. Road, water, and sewer are available throughout the park; drainage and water retention are master planned affording significant construction savings. The combination of State of Florida incentives, workforce training programs and an Expedited Permitting and Inspection Certification program (EPIC), makes Hernando County the ideal place for business to thrive.

Building the pipeline for future workforce needs is a top priority in Hernando County and throughout the Tampa Bay Region. The county’s relationships with the local school system and post-secondary institutions help to influence curriculum and workforce training programs to suit your specific business requirements. Partnerships with the Wilton Simpson Technical College, Pasco-Hernando State College, St. Leo University, University of South Florida, University of Florida, and University of Central Florida, along with a robust technical high school ensures access to any business expertise you may require as well as a pool of well-trained and motivated employees.

Hernando County is also known as Florida’s Adventure Coast, thanks to an abundance of coastal and other outdoor recreational activities. On the Gulf of Mexico, the Hernando County coast will lure you some of the best fishing, scalloping and shallow water boating in west central Florida. Inland, enjoy playing championship golf courses and kayaking on a matrix of waterways.

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

Hernando is the most affordable county in the Tampa Bay Region, offering lifestyle choices from waterfront to country club to ranches to historic homes. These amenities, combined with business-friendly government, available land, and well-trained workforce, make Hernando County a natural choice for your business relocation and expansion.

City Of Titusville: A Full-Service Community

Situated along the scenic Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s central east coast, the City of Titusville is a full-service community that provides its nearly 50,000 residents with a comprehensive array of public amenities and conveniences. The “Space Coast,” whose name is derived from the awe-inspiring launches that depart from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, encompasses more than 72 miles of shoreline and 16 municipalities, including Titusville in Brevard County.

Titusville is experiencing an unparalleled resurgence, not only because of its notable experience with the U.S. space program, but also due to the increasing number of private-sector companies that continue to emerge in the aerospace industry. Near pristine beaches and a myriad activities, life in Titusville is nicely balanced. The area is renowned for its numerous recreational opportunities, and its historic downtown now serves as the junction of three major multi-purpose trails, which include the St. Johns River-2-Sea-Loop, the Coast-To-Coast Trail, and the East Coast Greenway. In 2018, Titusville was the second-only city in Florida to be designated as a “Trail Town” by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Greenways and Trails Council.

The City of Titusville is home to many outdoor amenities, including Sand Point Park and Marina. (Photo: City of Titusville)

Served by three international airports—Orlando International (MCO), Orlando-Sanford (SFB), and Melbourne-Orlando (MLB)—which are all within an hour of Titusville, just minutes away, the Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX) welcomes private and corporate aircraft. Some 45 minutes to the west is Orlando and all of its legendary theme parks and attractions. Interstate 95, U.S. Highway 1, and the Florida East Coast Railway traverse directly through the city, and Port Canaveral’s Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) 136 status offers many advantages to businesses engaged in international trade.

Statewide, business owners contemplating the Sunshine State for location or expansion will find Florida’s business climate to be much like its weather—quite favorable. Some advantages that prospective entrepreneurs can expect include few obstacles to becoming established, thanks to streamlined and minimal business regulations, coupled with a very business-friendly, cost-competitive tax structure. Since the majority of startups are S-corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, or sole proprietorships, they will not incur state income taxes, nor is state income tax imposed on individuals.

The talent pipeline in the state is continually ranked among the best in the country due, in part, to 12 public universities, six prestigious medical schools, and numerous private institutions of higher learning. In Titusville, new hires are often recruited from nearby Florida Institute of Technology, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and the University of Central Florida.

Although an ample supply of pre-existing housing is available, Titusville continues to add both single-and multi-family residential units. Housing starts are a useful indicator of community viability and vitality when determining locations for new retail and commercial venues.

In a word, Titusville is resilient. Not only has it survived the cessation of two U.S. space programs but, because of steadfast elected leaders and dedicated administrators, the city has managed to emerge stronger and capable of reaching new heights each time.

Lake County: Centrally Located

The Office of Elevate Lake is committed to serving its businesses in Lake County, Florida. Conveniently located in Central Florida, Lake County businesses have access to highways, seaports, airports, rail, and an amazing quality of life. Come grow with Lake County.

Lake County prides itself on providing an exceptional quality of life for its residents. With more than 1,000 lakes, beautiful rolling terrain that leads to the highest point in the Florida Peninsula, and over 1,100 square miles, Lake County offers its residents a “Real Florida. Real Close.” lifestyle that also makes the county an attractive destination for tourists, as well as the best and brightest workforce talent.

Real Talent. There are 500,000-plus students enrolled in higher education within a 100-mile radius. The Education Partners in this community are focused on providing top quality talent to meet workforce needs of today and of the future. Lake Technical College and Lake Sumter State College can even design specialized programs to upskill or train specialized skills.

Real Opportunity. Design and planning continue to take shape in Wellness Village, which will bring state-of-the-art medical facilities, research, and health focused initiatives to The Villages and surrounding community. This is part of a $100 million-plus development slated to break ground on 241 acres in Lake County by the end of 2022. This entire project is expected to create hundreds of high-wage jobs in science, medicine, and research.

Olympus is underway in Lake County’s Wellness Way, located in Clermont (South Lake County), just outside of Orlando and Orange County. Olympus was created by Olympus Sports & Entertainment Group and is guided by a brand promise of “Epic. Every Day.” The project features innovative development zones of excellence devoted to Sports Training and Competition, Sports Medicine and Performance, Health and Wellness, Entertainment and Hospitality, Business Innovation, and Growth.

Lake County, Florida
At 2550 American Way, this 425,000-plus square foot facility is available in Groveland, Lake County, FL. (Photo: Lake County, Florida)

Speculative construction in warehousing, distribution, and logistics is spiking at the intersections of Florida’s Turnpike, US Highway 27, and State Route 19. There are five buildings either under construction or in the planning process—425,000-plus square feet (Est. completion Q3 2022), 977,000-plus square feet (Est. completion Q3 2023), 877,000-plus square feet, 570,000-plus square feet, and 125,000 square feet.

Countless businesses have already selected Lake County as their home. Amazon Logistics opened a new delivery station in July 2021. The Kroger Company chose Groveland, FL as the second location in the U.S. for one of their Customer Fulfillment Centers, with the grand opening in July 2021. DiversiTech Corporation chose Leesburg, FL to expand their manufacturing business of components and products related to the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry. Steamroller Animation and Steamroller Studios began in Lake County and thrive in downtown Mount Dora as high-tech entertainment producers in gaming, animation, unique content creation to the highest level of partnering with some of the largest film studios and gaming studios on the planet to breathe life into their stories. The time is now to come to Lake County, Florida.