Florida: To Space and Beyond

When people look up in Florida, they see more than just the sun shining. They see a bright future with a limitless horizon.

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2016 Issue

If the first half of 2016 is any indication, Florida will have a great year. The Sunshine State already has solidified a number of business expansions with hundreds of new jobs being created in various sectors. Though not surprisingly, a bulk of the announcements made came from the Aerospace sector.

Ultimate Software is one of several technology companies that have chosen to locate in Greater Fort Lauderdale. (Photo: Ultimate Software)

Lockheed Martin announced plans to add from 50 to 300 jobs in North Brevard County. The company will grow its Astrotech Space Operations site in Titusville, expanding that operation’s capabilities in supporting a variety of defense, NASA and private launches.

“Florida is home to one of the largest aerospace and aviation industries in the nation and we continue to grow,” said Gov. Rick Scott. “It’s exciting that Lockheed Martin continues to expand in Florida, adding hundreds of jobs for our families. We will do all we can to make it easier for businesses like Lockheed Martin to succeed in Florida.”

Lynda Weatherman, president of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, stated, “This expansion builds upon a community known for its space legacy. Lockheed Martin’s decision to invest in Titusville adds to the city’s global recognition as a prime location for the next generation of space technology development.

Lockheed Martin will receive more than $5.7 million in incentives from Brevard County and the North Brevard Economic Development Zone. Property tax abatements from Brevard County total $397,043 a year for 10 years, or approximately $3.97 million. Even so, the company will pay $550,797 a year in new taxes, or about $5.51 million during those 10 years.

This Lockheed Martin announcement came right after Thales, a French aerospace and defense company, said it was expanding operations in Florida. The company is seeking up to 120,000 square feet in Central Florida. A spokesman for the company said it may build new or rent existing space, in either Orlando or on the Space Coast.

Thales makes in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems as well as instrument-landing systems and encryption technology. The firm will be adding 500 tech-focused jobs; more than 300 of which will be added on the Space Coast. Thales is being approved for up to $2.5 million in incentives for the expansions. The company says the Orlando jobs would pay an average annual wage of $53,255, which is at least 125 percent of the 2013 Orange County annual wage.

“We are pleased to expand our footprint in Florida. The state’s pro-business agenda is helping to enable our targeted growth,” said Alan Pellegrini, President and CEO of Thales USA. And Tom Malko, VP of Assembly, Test and Launch Operations at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said, “We have sites nationwide, but Florida offers a blend of skilled people and a growth-friendly environment that make it a great fit for this project.”

Another company, HAECO Americas, will expand in Lake City, Florida, creating 400 new jobs. The project will bring a $2 million capital investment to Columbia County.

Located about 60 miles west of Jacksonville, HAECO Lake City has over 600,000 square feet of covered hangar space and more than 1.3 million square feet of ramp area. The complex includes six hangars for airframe maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), as well as a dedicated, two-bay, strip and paint hangar.

The HAECO Lake City facility maintains the taxiways, parking ramps and engine run-up areas for the Lake City Airport. HAECO also maintains an FAA-approved control tower, which is staffed by FAA-certified controllers during daylight hours, providing all-weather operations.

Executive Vice President and COO of Enterprise Florida Crystal Sircy said, “HAECO is a leader in the MRO industry and this expansion helps Florida solidify its position as the leading state for MRO. We appreciate HAECO’s continued commitment to the Lake City region and know they will continue to find the highly-skilled workforce they need to grow in the state.”

Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said, “Florida is home to more than 2,000 aviation and aerospace companies, employing 80,000 workers across the state. HAECO’s expansion and the creation of 400 additional high-tech, high-wage jobs is great news for families in and around Lake City.”

In addition to the Aerospace sector expansions, Arthrex, the North Naples-based manufacturer of medical devices and surgical supplies, is expanding with a capital investment of more than $63 million. One of Collier County’s largest private employers, the company behind “Project Nikita” will create 560 jobs at its corporate campus.

“Arthrex is a worldwide company on the cutting edge of medicine, surgical techniques and design,” Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor said. “It’s a highly desired company that could go anywhere in the world. It’s important for them to stay in Collier County because they’re ours.”

Based at Creekside Commerce Park off Immokalee Road, Arthrex could receive more than $5.9 million in incentives from the state and the county for its expansion. The incentives will be awarded based on the company’s job creation and investment.

“More and more manufacturing companies are choosing to invest and create new opportunities in our state because of our work to cut taxes and make it easier for job creators to succeed,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing Arthrex’s continued growth as we work to make Florida first for jobs.”


Florida is known as the Sunshine State, and for good reason with 270 days of sunshine each year. Some other key factors business leaders and decision-makers need to know is that Florida:

  • Has no personal income tax
  • Has a streamlined regulatory environment for businesses
  • Is the fourth largest economy in the United States
  • Is visited by 98.9 million people each year
  • Is the No. 1 leader in the Southeast for personal income, with a total of $840 billion
  • Boasts more than $153 billion in annual merchandise trade
  • Is the nation’s No. 2 infrastructure
  • Offers 15 deep-water seaports, 19 commercial service airports, two spaceports, 12,000 miles of roads and nearly 3,000 miles of freight rail track routes, making it “one of the world’s most extensive multimodal transportation systems”
  • Is home to two of the world’s busiest airports: Miami and Orlando International
  • Has been named No. 1 in innovation, and is No. 4 in high-tech employment in the United States



While the state has long been recognized for its impeccable weather, Florida’s business climate is grabbing headlines in 2016. Over the last decade, state and economic development leaders have worked hard to make Florida’s pro-business climate second to none.

OneWeb, a global communications network company, is locating a 100,000-square-foot satellite manufacturing facility in Brevard County, creating 250 high-tech manufacturing and engineering jobs. (Photo: Enterprise Florida)

Their efforts have paid off: This year, Florida ranked No. 2 in the nation for job growth according to Business Facilities. With low regulations and even lower taxes, companies enjoy the freedom to thrive. Home to 15 deepwater seaports, 20 commercial airports, nearly 3,000 miles of freight rail track and two spaceports, Florida offers world-class infrastructure. An educated, talented and diverse workforce of nearly 10 million rounds out Florida as a top 10 Best State for Talent Pipeline by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

It’s no surprise that companies are catching on. Over 50,000 businesses of all sizes and industries have set up shop in the Sunshine State since 2010, from education startup EverBright Media to automotive and transportation giant Hertz.

Florida boasts numerous business amenities, but perhaps its best-selling point is the long list of companies that are taking advantage of everything the state has to offer. Ranking No. 3 in the U.S. for high-tech businesses, Florida is a place where industries flourish. In fact, 17 Fortune 500 companies maintain corporate headquarters in Florida, capitalizing on its reduced costs, large market and skilled workforce.

The future looks brighter than ever as more corporate headquarters move to Florida, including yacht company Bertram LLC, who announced they will establish their international headquarters in Tampa. Bertram’s headquarters will create 140 jobs and invest $35 million in the community. Selecting Florida over the Carolinas and Georgia as the best location for their new facility, Bertram LLC joins a growing list of diverse companies that have recently established international, national or regional headquarters in Hillsborough County, including Johnson & Johnson, TransferWise and Cohesion.

With more than 2,100 aerospace and aviation companies employing nearly 90,000 workers, Florida is consistently at the top of the rankings in aerospace innovation. Florida also is the No. 2 state in aviation, aerospace and space establishments, boasting valuable industry assets, including 20 commercial and over 120 public-use airports.

In 2016 alone, massive strides have been made in expanding some of the world’s industry leaders.

Poised to become America’s next tech hub, Florida possesses the science, talent and support to facilitate everything from biotechnology to robotics. Florida is home to over 30,000 high-tech companies, up by nearly 10,000 since 2010.

High-tech giants have taken notice: OneWeb, a global communications network company, is one of many big-tech businesses headquartered in Florida and growing. OneWeb plans to expand in Brevard County, creating 250 jobs and investing nearly $85 million.

Also extending its innovation footprint into Florida is imec, a world-leading nanoelectronics research center. The new imec Florida Design Center will focus on photonics and high-speed electronics Integrated Circuit (IC) design, working in close collaboration with the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) on an R&D design center. “As the U.S. semiconductor market continues to strengthen with semiconductor manufacturing, equipment, materials and system innovation, we are extremely pleased to collaborate with partner organizations in Florida and see Osceola as an interesting location to drive the next phase of imec’s growth and innovation,” said Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec. “Together with industrial and academic partners, we want to develop sustainable solutions and technology to accelerate innovation and stimulate economic growth within Osceola County and the state of Florida.”

Thanks in part to its leading business environment, workforce and infrastructure, Florida consistently ranks among the nation’s top 10 states for manufacturing. Its advanced manufacturing industries are diverse and include sectors producing intermediate and finished products ranging from auto parts to tortillas.

The state proudly is home to more than 19,000 manufacturing companies employing more than 340,000 workers, and this number keeps growing. The KLS Martin Group, a global leader in innovative surgical technology, is establishing its first U.S. manufacturing operations in Jacksonville. KLS currently employs more than 150 Floridians and plans to invest more than $5 million in the local community.


Most people think of Greater Fort Lauderdale as a great place to visit and vacation. Companies are now thinking of it as a great place for their headquarters, aviation, life science and technology businesses. Access to over 5.9 million people who speak more than 90 languages, 40 colleges and universities within close proximity and no state income tax are some of the reasons this dynamic region has become one of the most desirable business locations in the U.S. Located in the middle of the largest MSA in the Southeast, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers easy access to three major international airports; seven private airports for executives and business travelers; and the number one container port in Florida, Port Everglades.

U.S. and international companies appreciate Greater Fort Lauderdale’s strategic location and convenient access to global markets, 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, BlackBerry, Citrix, Foxconn, Magic Leap, Motorola 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, People’s Trust and Spirit Airlines. In addition, a number of companies have their international/regional/Latin American headquarters in Greater Fort Lauderdale, including Microsoft, DHL Express, Emerson, Ecolab, Marriott International and The Wendy’s Company. A just released Chief Executive magazine survey ranked Florida as the number two best state for business in its “Best and Worst States for Business in 2016” rankings and the Tax Foundation ranked Florida fourth on its Best State Business Tax Climate Index in 2015, up from the 5th position, which the state had held for nine consecutive years.

Greater Fort Lauderdale’s aviation industry is a multibillion-dollar sector with airlines, general aviation, airports, airframe and engine manufacturers, component parts suppliers and allied industries such as banking and insurance. With more than 46,000 aviation workers in South Florida, the region is a major hub for aviation manufacturing and maintenance, repair and overhaul companies, with numerous aviation and aerospace programs and degrees providing a continuous flow of talent to companies in the region.

Located at the center of South Florida’s rapidly growing life sciences cluster, Greater Fort Lauderdale supports a wide range of bioscience, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. To the north are Scripps Florida and the Max Planck Florida Institute in Palm Beach County, and to the south are the growing clinical research programs at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In Broward County, Nova Southeastern University has invested in its numerous biomedical research facilities and has built a revolutionary Center for Collaborative Research that houses an IBM supercomputer, one of Florida’s largest wet labs, the NSU Technology Incubator and some of the world’s most accomplished researchers.

Greater Fort Lauderdale also provides a highly supportive climate for technology companies, including a large pool of skilled workers and educational institutions, financial incentives and other support. South Florida has remained at the forefront of information technology innovation since the birth of the IBM PC in Boca Raton in the early 1980s and the first smartphone a decade later. Today, the region’s technology assets continue to attract global companies, along with successful “home-grown” businesses and innovative startups.

One of the recent relocations and expansions in Greater Fort Lauderdale includes Hoerbiger, which is realigning its compressor component manufacturing operations in North America and investing $56 million in its new North American manufacturing facility in Coral Springs. The company is adding more than 400 new employees to its existing staff of 357. “The strength of the workforce makes South Florida the right place for our newest facility,” said Don York, President of Hoerbiger Corporation of America, Inc.

Lupin, Inc., a research-oriented pharmaceutical company headquartered in India, recently expanded its operations in Coral Springs, creating 45 high skilled positions. Lupin’s new facility will focus on the research and development of new drugs. Lupin’s Senior Vice President of Inhalation Research and Development, Dr. Xian-Ming Zeng, said the ability to recruit high-quality scientists from the South Florida area was a strong motivator behind the decision to expand to South Florida.

“Florida is perfectly positioned for Lupin to thrive,” Zeng said. “There is a unique opportunity to collaborate with the area’s universities and explore long-term recruitment solutions. Not only does this mean the cost of recruiting is lower but the resulting candidates are highly trained and desirable as employees.”

SATO Holdings, a global leader in auto-ID solutions headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, established its U.S. headquarters subsidiary, SATO Global Solutions (SGS), in Fort Lauderdale. The launch of SGS is part of SATO’s growth plan to increase market presence in North America and accelerate its global delivery of integrated solutions that leverage Internet of Things technologies.

Michael Beedles, President of SGS, 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.”

Companies interested in information about Greater Fort Lauderdale, or office/site location assistance are invited to contact David Coddington, Vice President of Business Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance at dcoddington@gflalliance.org or (954) 627-0123.


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, including 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 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 feet and 5,000 feet) and also is home to more than 140 diverse businesses that employ thousands. 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. 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 nearly 25 years. The property also is well suited for a manufacturing facility.

Hernando County offers very affordable tax rates along with flexible and aggressive economic development incentives for prospective and existing tenants of these properties and airport sites. 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 healthcare.

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 make 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 burgeoning adult education program, Suncoast Technical Educational Center, and AMSkills (American Manufacturing Skills Initiative program) provide a pool of well-trained and motivated employees.

In recent years, Hernando County has attracted forward-thinking, innovative companies that specialize in aviation, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and information technology. The success and continued growth of companies like MicroMatic, Alumi-Guard and Surge Suppression, to name a few, are helping to spread the news that Hernando County not only is a prime place to start a business, but the perfect place to stay. With the recent announcement of e-Telequote establishing a facility at the Tech Center and hiring 70 insurance agents, along with the growth of HealthSouth’s Central Billing Office, back office operations are on the rise in Hernando County. The Office of Business Development makes nurturing its 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 or to receive detailed data about available properties, demographics or the local economy, visit www.hernandobusiness.com.


Competing in today’s global market can be demanding, so you want to be in a location in a business-friendly region with all the right amenities: safety, modern and convenient transportation and technological infrastructure, and a positive environment for your business sector and all of your employees.

If you’re considering the Southeast United States, look no further than Cape Coral, Florida, a business-friendly environment that enables companies like yours to grow quickly.

By now you understand why Florida is a paradise for growing businesses, as well as the state’s residents—and also why it’s a dominant player in the Southeast. Florida is a state with a wide variation in demographics and amenities, so take a close look at Cape Coral.

Cape Coral has some of the best projections for growth and business opportunities. It’s where you want to be.

Cape Coral is one of the nation’s job growth leaders, a waterfront metropolitan area located in Lee County on Florida’s Southwest coast. Lee County has a population of roughly 650,000 people, with more than 7 million visitors each year. The local year-round population is expected to increase by more than 14 percent by the year 2020.

Cape Coral is the largest city in Southwest Florida and stands apart from all other communities in the region. The sprawling, 120-mile city—the third largest geographically in the state—is only 46 percent built out. This means that there are wide-open opportunities for finding a prime location for your business, along with demographics suiting your goods and services.

What makes Cape Coral unique? In addition to an ideal, year-round climate, Cape Coral’s affordable real estate and competitive cost of living continue to draw national attention. Forbes magazine reported in 2015 that the Cape Coral metropolitan area is No. 3 nationwide for projected job growth. That’s precisely why the Cape Coral Economic Development Office (EDO) team is recruiting select business sectors to create a rich and diverse business environment. By combining federal, state, county and city incentives, the EDO assists those committed to working with them on this critical financial investment.

A few keys to the Cape’s forecast:

  • As the 10th largest city in Florida, Cape Coral is an ideal location for relocating businesses due to its large, talented and available workforce.
  • The city boasts nearly 400 miles of navigable canals, and is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River, part of the federal Intracoastal Waterway, bringing boaters from around the country. This key amenity is a boon to homeowners and business owners in several sectors: services, products and supplies, retail and manufacturing.
  • Numerous existing retailers in Cape Coral have experienced tremendous annual sales and, in some instances, are the largest grossing stores within their respective chains.
  • A new conference center at the waterfront Westin Hotel will draw visitors from around the nation.

The Cape Coral Economic Development Office has designed several areas of emphasis to enhance and tailor growth with a visionary outlook for all sectors of the marketplace. Some of these include:

Veterans Investment Zone. The 240,000-square-foot Lee County VA Healthcare Center has exceeded its original projections in terms of patients, visitors and service levels. This facility draws thousands throughout the region; an estimated 260,000 veterans live in Southwest Florida. Nearby is a 15-acre Cape Coral Army Reserve Center. One component of this zone is the 222,000–square-foot Patriot Plaza planned for development on more than 430 acres of undeveloped land within one mile of the regional VA Healthcare Center.

Concourse at Cape Coral is a 171-acre parcel that is owned by the city, which is seeking public-private partnerships for its development, including 55 acres for shopping and 50 acres for entertainment nestled in unspoiled nature with water views.

The Cape Coral Economic Development Office is working on several fronts to attract new investors and businesses, facilitating the expansion of existing businesses, creating new and improved employment opportunities and developing and promoting economic incentives. The Cape Coral EDO tracks emerging industries, demographics, market conditions and workforce data to provide solid resources for startups, relocations and expansions.


Indian River County—Vero Beach, Sebastian, and Fellsmere—strikes a perfect balance between business and pleasure. Located an hour north of West Palm Beach and 90 miles southeast of Orlando, it is within three hours of 18 million consumers, or 90 percent of Florida’s population, with easy access to markets and far from urban sprawl, traffic and congestion.

Piper Aircraft, Indian River County’s largest private employer with 735 employees, has called Vero Beach its home since 1957. (Photo: Indian River County Chamber of Commerce)

Surrounded by miles of pristine beaches, ranches and citrus groves, Indian River County’s superb quality of life has attracted innovative businesses and talented professionals from around the country and around the world. Advanced industries from aviation to aquaculture and emerging tech to healthcare benefit from a low cost of doing business; a large, well-trained workforce; and some of the lowest taxes in the nation. With convenient access to highways, rail and ports, along with large tracts of buildable land, many transportation and distribution companies have chosen to locate in the county.

Indian River County’s allure as a light industrial site is best demonstrated by the fact that many companies have chosen this location because of the positive vacation experience of their C-level executives. Companies are attracted to Indian River County because of its relatively low land and labor costs, the absence of a state income tax and competitive property tax rates. Tax abatements and the Local Jobs Grant program encourage eligible new and existing firms to add new jobs for local residents.

Indian River County has two general aviation airports, Vero Beach and Sebastian, and is located minutes from Melbourne International Airport. Vero Beach Regional Airport now offers non-stop flights to Newark.

Vero Beach, the county seat, has long been a popular resort area, attracting thousands to the array of recreational and entertainment pursuits it offers. Sebastian, in the northern part of the county, is home to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge—the first of its kind in the U.S. The city also offers one of the most spectacular skydiving venues in the world, and is ideal for surfing with several major competitions held annually.

Piper Aircraft, the county’s largest private employer with 735 employees, has called Vero Beach its home since 1957. FlightSafety Academy in Vero Beach offers a comprehensive professional pilot training program, including full-flight simulators, a dedicated fleet of multi-engine and single-engine aircraft. Sun Aviation, Paris Air and Corporate Air offer charter service to residents and visitors throughout the year.

An available and trainable workforce of approximately 638,000 within an hour’s drive time makes Indian River County a highly desirable location. Indian River State College (IRSC) is nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum and close working relationship with the business community, filling the training needs of industry, and preparing the next generation of workers.

An efficient infrastructure system was the reason cited by CVS/Pharmacy to locate its 350,000-square-foot distribution center in Indian River County. This central location along I-95, plus the cooperation of local government and private sector leadership, made Indian River County the best site geographically and economically. The primary north-south transportation route through Indian River County is I-95. State Road 60 is the main east-west arterial between Vero Beach and the Tampa Bay area on Florida’s west coast, with Florida’s Turnpike just 29 miles to the west. For more information, visit www.indianrivered.com.