Florida is already considered a top location for global leaders like Embraer, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric and Amazon. Now, a new wave of industries, innovations and investments are ensuring that the Sunshine State continues to be one of the best states for business.
Nothing illustrates the breadth of Florida’s success more than the growing number of new private-sector jobs. Since December 2010, the state has added more than one million high-wage, high-skill positions. Statewide, the unemployment rate is down to 5.0 percent, the lowest in seven years. Florida’s private-sector job growth rate of 3.6 percent (as of November 2015) has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012. Florida’s private-sector job growth has been positive for 49 consecutive months. With this momentum, Florida is well on its way to being the No. 1 state in the nation for job creation.
The factors driving Florida’s job growth are rooted in the state’s market opportunity, highly-skilled workforce, expansive infrastructure and easy access to domestic and international markets. Combine these assets and you get one of the best business climates in the country.
Medical Device Manufacturing Momentum
Over the past decade, Florida has emerged as a leader in the field of life sciences. Nearly 1,000 biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device companies employ 26,000 industry professionals and 700,000 health care professionals in the state.
One area experiencing exponential growth is the medical device manufacturing field. Florida has one of the country’s largest medical device manufacturing industries and ranks second for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-registered medical device manufacturing establishments. The state is home to more than 600 medical device manufacturers responsible for an extensive range of products used in medical treatment. The state recently strengthened its position in the industry with expansion projects from Zimmer Biomet, Xcelience and Johnson & Johnson.
Vision Care, a division of Fortune 500 company Johnson & Johnson, recently chose to expand its contact lens product line, as well as adding a 3-D printing and advanced manufacturing center in Jacksonville. The expansion will create a $301 million capital investment and 100 jobs in the community.
“Jacksonville is home to Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. We’ve been part of this community for 26 years and this expansion will allow us to do even greater things for our community and the business,” said Tim Ryan, plant manager of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
The local life sciences industry is fueled by a pipeline of talent from the state’s 12 public universities, nine medical schools and numerous private colleges and universities. Florida’s higher education institutions work with the business community to build programs that reflect the needs of Florida’s industries.
Leveraging Florida’s multimodal infrastructure, major companies including FedEx, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Publix Super Markets, Cheney Brothers and Walmart Stores, Inc., have found the distribution channels and supply chain networks needed to deliver their products to market.
With its unique geographic location, Florida offers access to multiple major markets through land, air, sea and rail transportation. The state is home to more than 12,000 of miles of highway and nearly 3,000 miles of freight rail track routes, as well as 19 commercial airports. In 2015, state leaders approved $10.1 billion for infrastructure expansions and improvements.
Florida’s advanced port infrastructure of 15 deepwater seaports draw international companies looking to export goods on a large scale. As the Western Hemisphere’s commercial gateway, Florida’s logistics industry is poised to grow further with the Panama Canal expansion and the potential for increased trade with Asia.
In September 2015, PortMiami announced the completion of the Deep Dredge project which deepened the port’s main harbor channel from 42 to 52 feet. The port is now the only major logistics hub south of Virginia capable of handling post-Panamax vessels. JAXPORT in Jacksonville and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale are currently in the process of deepening their shipping channels as well.
“When bigger ships start transiting through the expanded waterway next year, deep ports like Miami will transform maritime trade on a global scale,” said CEO of the Panama Canal Authority Jorge L. Quijano. “We are proud of our long-standing partnership with PortMiami and are certain that the synergies achieved through the Deep Dredge and the Panama Canal expansion projects will boost international trade and contribute to future economic growth by increasing job opportunities and revenues at both PortMiami and the Panama Canal.”
The state continually invests in additional infrastructure improvements to retain its position as one of the strongest logistics networks in the nation.
Use Leading Research Institutions
Innovation is the key to the continued growth and success of Florida companies. The state’s nine research parks are at the epicenter of that innovation. Research parks help convert advanced technologies into commercial products with the intent of producing high-wage jobs in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and diversifying the economy.
Collectively, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida were granted 257 U.S. patents in 2014. Together, these Florida research universities surpassed other established and well-recognized high-tech hubs such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle and Austin’s Silicon Hills region.
“The countless scientists, researchers, innovators and inventors at UCF, USF, UF and throughout our region enrich our innovation ecosystem and work tirelessly to make tomorrow better than it is today,” said Randy Berridge, president of Florida High Tech Corridor Council.
Growth-stage and mature companies from a variety of industries benefit from enduring linkages to research partners and host universities. Affiliations with universities vary from sponsoring research and employing interns to teaching at the university or being part of an industry advisory council. Many research parks also host incubators that provide state-of-the-art laboratories with high-tech equipment assist with business planning and facilitate access to capital providers.
Florida’s research parks highlight the state’s growth as a high-tech hub through continued innovations and technology transfers from universities to market place.
Worldwide Connection through Florida Data Centers
It’s not often that a data center comes with a scenic backdrop and the credibility of an established IT foundation. Add reliable power with an excellent business climate and low tax environment, and you get a unique location that is as easy on the bottom lines as it is on the eyes.
Florida’s IT strengths include diverse and growing sectors with more than 26,000 companies employing 245,700 professionals. As a leading state for high-tech establishments and support from the High-Tech Corridor, IT companies like IBM, Verizon and Electronic Arts continuously invest and expand in Florida.
Florida is a prime strategic destination for technology companies looking for data center locations, especially due to its close proximity and easy access to Latin American markets. With strong cable connections, companies chose to locate their data (and often a Latin American headquarters) in Florida, benefitting from the state’s favorable business and tax climate, as well as its best-in-class electric utility companies, which aren’t as available in Latin America.
Verizon chose Miami for its flagship data center facility, the NAP of the Americas, because the city is one of the top five-most connected in the world. The NAP of the Americas is located in the downtown area, with numerous telecommunications carrier facilities, fiber loops, international cable landings and multiple power grids bound to more than 148 countries around the world. Florida has more subsea cable landing points than any other state on the East Coast, reaching Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.
Florida Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. Bill Johnson says, “Florida’s information technology sector continues to grow and Verizon’s NAP of the Americas is helping to diversify that sector. The data center in Miami creates important capital investments in the region and further strengthens Florida’s position as a business super-state.”
Florida’s multimodal infrastructure, combined with competitive costs, talented workforce and global access, provides businesses in a variety of industries with the competitive advantage to grow their bottom line. For more information on the many resources that make Florida the best state in the nation for business, visit www.enterpriseflorida.com.
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