By Beth Cicchetti, CEcD, Executive Director, Florida Economic Development Council & Suzanne Christman, CEcD, MEDP, Director, Business Development, Pinellas County Economic Development
As the third most populous state in the nation, Florida welcomes 1000 new residents a day, hosts 120,000,000 visitors a year and is ranked #1 in higher education by U.S. News & World Report.
WonderFL is a new talent attraction campaign that showcases Florida’s eight diverse regions to help you explore career opportunities and find the perfect home in one of the fastest growing states.
- Northwest Florida is located in the Panhandle. The region offers a mix of manufacturing, logistics, aerospace and defense providing bountiful job opportunities. The Department of Defense expenditures exceed $9 billion in the Northwest region.
- North Central Florida focuses on the great outdoors, education, culture and arts, and solar – as its the #2 region in Florida for solar farm production.
- Northeast Florida, home to Jacksonville, features several Fortune 500 companies along with medical and biotech businesses. Job seekers flock to this region where they can focus on career growth and diverse options.
- Tampa Bay is one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S with rich cultural and entertainment options for everyone. It features a diverse economy fueled by manufacturing, life sciences, financial services, and has become a top tech and startup destination.
- Orlando Space Coast is one of the top tourist destinations in the nation but is more corporate than you think. Eighty percent of the employment is in diverse industries such as Aviation/Aerospace, Life Sciences and Professional/Business Services. The region’s merging intersection of industries including Defense, Space and Gaming Entertainment, truly makes it the MetaCenter of the metaverse.
- Southwest Florida is home to the Everglades National Park. Since 1925, Major League Baseball spring training has played a significant economic role along with collegiate, minor-league, and amateur recreational sports. Big commercial and transportation brands like Chicos and Hertz
- South Central Florida spans the peninsula serving both coasts and making the region a hub of manufacturing, agribusiness, and medical sciences. Major producers like Tropicana, Bowman Steel and Florikan call the region home. With quality infrastructure and a central location, this region is poised for business.
- Southeast Florida stretches from Indian River to Miami-Dade. Robust port infrastructure supports a growing maritime sector. With a total of 532,913 businesses, the region is an energetic startup scene, a solid manufacturing sector, a tech development location, and a logistics hub.
FINTECH Hubs in Florida
Florida is familiar territory for many Northeasterners who either vacation here or have a second home here. Overtaxed Fintech businesses are flocking to Florida where there is no state personal income tax, low corporate income tax, no capital gains taxes, and no state level property tax.
With 40 billionaires and 71,000 millionaires residing in the State, there is access to a tremendous amount of wealth as well as 130 public airports, an affordable and abundant quality of life, and an affordable business environment.
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts capped federal deductions of state and local taxes at $10,000. This reform prompted many high-profile Fintech companies to flee the Northeast and converge on Florida, minimizing expenses and maximizing their competitive edge.
South Florida is known for sun and sand but to savvy Fintech business leaders it is also known as the “Wall Street of the South.” Hedge funds, private equity firms and wealth management offices are realizing that they don’t have to be in New York to operate their businesses.
In the early 2010s, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County (BDB) and Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) spearheaded an effort to recruit hedge funds, private equity firms and wealth management offices to the tri county area. As a result of this strategy, these areas are booming.
The BDB has helped relocate more than 70 financial services companies, primarily hedge funds and wealth management offices, to Palm Beach County since 2016. Notably Paul Singer relocated the headquarters of his $41 billion hedge fund company, Elliot Management, to Palm Beach County from Manhattan as part of the wave of companies making the move. Other headline grabbing relocations include firms such as Paul Tutor Jones, Affiliated Managers Group and Wexford Capital, just to name a few.
Miami’s proximity to the Latin America market, its multicultural environment, along with more affordable office rents and lower housing prices make it an appealing alternative for financial services companies searching for a location to prosper and grow. Downtown Miami rents are much less expensive per square foot than New York City’s Midtown, which equates to big monthly savings for companies who choose to relocate there. While homegrown startups like Pipe have found huge success, industry giants like Transunion have locations there while more companies flock to the area.
Jacksonville is home to several leading fintech institutions with more forming or relocating there each year. Central to the area’s fintech focus is Fortune 250 company FIS, the world’s largest fintech company by revenue. It is also home to significant fintech operations for Black Knight, Deutsche Bank, SS&C Technologies, SoFi and Dun & Bradstreet. The Jacksonville region employs more than 62,000 in the financial and business services industry and continues to produce a quality workforce with Florida’s first Fintech Academy. Two state colleges were awarded $3.6 million in grant funding for the Northeast Florida Fintech Initiative to develop top talent and to ensure employers have a large, highly skilled talent pool for years to come.
Tampa Bay’s fintech industry continues to gain momentum. As a matter of fact, as of 2020, Tampa Bay boasted more than 115,000 people employed in this sector. While global powerhouses like Citi, DTCC and JPMorgan, and Chase employ thousands, new expansions continue to flow into the area, like Branch, a leading workforce payment platform who announced their expansion into the Tampa area in March of 2022. ARK Invest relocated their headquarters in 2021 and has doubled down on their investment through a partnership with the Tampa Bay Innovation Center on a new tech entrepreneur incubator that Pinellas County will build and own. The new ARK Innovation Center clients and graduates are expected to generate $127 million in annual revenue.
Talent and Infrastructure for Aviation/Aerospace
Twenty-one military installations protect and defend this great nation and bolster the Florida economy making Aviation & Aerospace among Florida’s top industry sectors. A recent $30 million injection of braided funds from the Florida Department of Education, CareerSource Florida, and Florida’s signature Job Growth Grant Fund is preparing the next generation of workers and upskilling existing talent that will increase household incomes for decades to come.
Every corner of Florida has access to the financial flexibility and infrastructure investments delivered by Space Florida whose vision is a place where Florida is the leading global and interplanetary center for sustainable aerospace commerce. With 150 projects in the pipeline, Space Florida is preparing for a space enterprise where manufacturing, mining, tourism, and other economic activity is occurring IN SPACE at scale.
Rural Areas of Opportunity
Roughly half of Florida’s 67 counties make up three enclaves designated as rural areas of opportunity in northwest, north central and south-central Florida. These regions have access to a unique set of economic development resources through the Enterprise Florida Rural Toolkit for marketing, consulting, and site readiness and the Florida Rural Infrastructure Fund for land feasibility studies and engineering, design and construction of critical utilities and transportation assets.
Florida’s rural areas are home to shovel-ready mega sites and industrial airports with cost-controlling assets such as 8,500-to-12,000-foot runways, dual rail, port accessibility, foreign trade zones, and highly trained generations of hard-working families continually upskilled by Florida’s 12 state universities, 28 state colleges and 48 technical colleges/centers. Every rural Florida county is within a one-hour drive of a major metro area, which expands an employer’s general talent pool and housing options for relocating families.
Looking to the Future
As we look to the future, Florida is a research and development hub for nearshoring and reshoring the semiconductor industry. Osceola County received $50.8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to develop Central Florida’s semiconductor and microelectronics industry cluster. These funds will be used to develop a robust semiconductor talent pipeline as well as expand facilities at Osceola County’s NeoCity, which is a future-forward, 500-acre metacenter.
Florida is continuing to elevate through talent and infrastructure investments, Fintech, Aviation and Aerospace, and Semiconductors – all underscored by investment and innovative partnerships in Manufacturing, Trade and Logistics.