Competing in today’s global market can present challenges. Finding the right business location shouldn’t be one of them. Florida’s business-friendly environment enables companies to grow quickly. The state’s talented and diverse workforce, top-ranked infrastructure, global connectivity and quality of life promotes growth and the perfect work-life balance.
Innovation Thrives in Jacksonville
Over the course of 2018, the Jacksonville region has seen significant growth in new market relocations and expansions. The diversification of the region’s target industry mix was well represented with project wins in the focus areas of advanced transportation and logistics; financial services; health and biomedical; IT and innovation; and advanced manufacturing. Top projects included securing an eCommerce fulfilment center for Wayfair, with 250 jobs; relocation of nearly 80 roles for Rayonier Advanced Materials from Canada to its Jacksonville headquarters; and the opening of Chinese-based JinkoSolar’s first U.S. assembly facility of solar panels, with 200 jobs.
Innovation has been a leading driver for Jacksonville, particularly in the areas of energy and transportation. In addition to the investment made by JinkoSolar in solar energy, Florida’s busiest cargo port, JAXPORT has been getting international attention for its emphasis on operating with and producing liquefied natural gas (LNG). The port authority and its partners, Crowley Maritime Corporation and TOTE Maritime, have been leaders in the technology, having converted their fleets to LNG power in preparation of IMO emission mandates. TOTE has also launched North America’s first LNG bunker barge, Clean Jacksonville, which will be used at sea for barge-to-ship bunkering.
Northeast Florida is also making strides toward becoming the nation’s first Smart Region, an effort to enhance the region’s livability and create a safer, more reliable transportation system. The plan identifies and implements new and emerging technologies to collect, analyze and apply data from multiple sources. This integrated data exchange will be available for private companies to develop applications. Jacksonville has been a test market for innovation in this space, and as such, established companies and startups from all over the world are showing interest in opportunities to grow their presence and products in the region.
The first project of the plan, electrification, has been in the test phase for the last year with driverless technology for public transportation through the use of autonomous vehicles. The vehicles, known as the Ultimate Urban Circulator, or U2C, will replace the city’s elevated monorail with an expansion to street-level connecting downtown Jacksonville’s innovation corridor, known as “The Bay.” The project is one step closer to reality, having received a federal boost in December with the announcement of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Global Companies Take Notice of Tampa
The Tampa region, with its low cost of living, pro-business climate, and favorable quality of life, continues to attract not only talented young professionals, but more and more is grabbing the attention of site selectors and company executives eyeing new markets for relocation or expansion efforts.
Home to the state’s largest port and a world-class airport, Tampa achieved its long-held goal of recruiting its first Fortune 500 corporate headquarters. In May, The Mosaic Company, one of the world’s leading producers and marketers of concentrated phosphate and potash nutrients, announced plans to relocate to Tampa.
The win marked an important milestone for the region’s rise as a global business destination. The arrival of Mosaic’s executive team will amplify the company’s already large presence in Central Florida and allow them more convenient access to business units in Latin America.
Additionally, the Tampa market once again proved its desirability as a location for shared services operations. Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie announced plans to invest more than $3 million in its new Global Center of Excellence in Tampa, the first of its kind in North America.
The center will create more than 300 new high-wage jobs in legal services, finance, IT, operations, business development, marketing and communications. Baker McKenzie joins a growing list of multinational companies that have significant operations in Hillsborough County, including USAA, Depository Trust & Clearance Corporation, Amgen, and Bristol Myers-Squibb.
Other multinational companies selected Hillsborough County as a new market to fuel expansion efforts. Frank Recruitment Group, a niche IT recruitment agency, chose Tampa because it has one of the fastest-growing technology labor pools in the country. Liftup, a Danish accessibility products designer and manufacturer, chose Tampa to establish its U.S. subsidiary because of Florida’s population growth.
In fact, the Tampa MSA is the third fastest-growing region in the nation by net migration. More than 54,300 residents moved to the area from outside of Florida between July 2016 and July 2017. And by 2022, Hillsborough County’s population is projected to reach nearly 1.5 million people, a 7.68 percent increase from 2017, compared to Florida’s estimated 6.65 percent growth rate.
Despite other markets working hard to lure them away, existing Hillsborough County businesses are choosing to stay in this market, and they’re growing too. From globally-renowned brands such as MetLife and IRONMAN to homegrown favorites like Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Newgentek and Greenway Health, local employers are investing big in Tampa.
Palm Beach County – The Perfect Business Climate
Palm Beach County is the largest county in Florida, covering 2,034 square miles, and the third-most populous. Covering this vast territory, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County is constantly moving, innovating, forging partnerships and gaining national recognition for Palm Beach County as a vibrant business hub. Under the leadership of CEO Kelly Smallridge, the economic development organization is producing impressive business growth and shows no signs of slowing down.
Palm Beach County is now nationally recognized as one of the fastest-growing areas for businesses in the U.S., with dozens of companies moving and expanding here during the past five years. Forbes ranks Palm Beach County among the top nationwide in growth, with Palm Beach County’s metropolitan areas as number 12 among the “Fastest-Growing Cities in the U.S.” and among the “Best Places for Business and Careers.” Also, Bloomberg News reported that Palm Beach County contains the “Third-Richest Zip Code in the Country.”
The County has created a supportive, business-friendly ecosystem where workforce leaders, educators, chambers of commerce, county commissioners and municipalities all support Palm Beach County’s vision for continued economic strength.
During the most recent fiscal year, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County facilitated 21 relocation and expansion projects, creating 2,217 jobs and more than $158 million in capital investment. During the past five years, the Business Development Board has assisted companies in creating more than 13,382 jobs with average salaries greater than $69,923—resulting in more than $668 million in capital investment and an economical impact that exceeds $7.33 billion.
Glades Gateway Commerce Park, a significant development in the City of Belle Glade, provides companies with a sizeable piece of shovel-ready industrially-zoned land.
Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, said, “This area provides companies with 10,000 acres of developable, industrial and commercial properties. Glades Gateway Commerce Park itself provides industrial zoning, existing availability of water, sewer, electric and natural gas utilities, 2,700 lineal feet of rail siding and a half-mile of frontage on U.S. 441, within a 100-mile radius of seven million people—all only 38 miles from The Palm Beaches and Florida’s east coast, 90 miles from Ft. Myers, Florida’s west coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and 90 miles north of Miami.”
With several million square feet in commercial space under construction, a deep talent pool, proximity to commercial and private international airports, the high-speed Brightline rail service and a lifestyle that is unmatched, the future looks bright for Palm Beach County.