November 23, 2014

Global Companies

Foreign Aid - Florida's Foreign Companies

While outsourcing gets all the attention, Florida is home to thousands who work for foreign companies

Sabadell United
Sabadell United's Miami office provides private and corporate banking services in the U.S. and the Americas. Sabadell has purchased TransAtlantic Bank and Mellon United National Bank in Miami and most recently Lydian Private Bank in Palm Beach. [Photo: Sabadell United]
More than 250,000 Floridians work for majority foreign-owned companies at some 2,500 locations around the state, according to Enterprise Florida.

Some employees now work for foreign companies as a result of acquisitions — the 1,200-person phosphate mining company White Springs Agricultural Chemicals, originally founded by Occidental Chemical, is now a subsidiary of Canada-based Potash Corp., for example. Diabetes testing kit maker Nipro Diagnostics in Fort Lauderdale was known as Home Diagnostics until Japan-based Nipro Corp. acquired it last year. Several Florida banks have been acquired by Spanish banks recently, including Miami-based City National (now owned by Caja Madrid), Coral Gables-based TotalBank (now owned by Banco Popular Español) and Palm Beach-based Lydian Private Bank (now owned by Sabadell United).

Other locations serve as foreign companies' bulwarks for expansion into the U.S. or Latin America and the Caribbean, ranging from telecoms to restaurants and furniture retailers. Australian online travel agency Webjet.com's only U.S. office, opened last year in Tampa, employs 12. Spain-based Indra Sistemas sells and services technology related to road tolling and aviation from its Winter Park and Miami offices, employing around 100. Another technology company, Pace Americas, a subsidiary of U.K.-based Pace, employs around 100 in its Boca Raton office. Pace develops set-top boxes and services for television and broadband services providers. Although it has U.S. locations in California and Texas, Boca Raton "is a great hub for being close to our Latin American and North American customers," says Rebecca Brandon, a marketing executive for the company.

Foreign Direct Investment

» No. 6: Florida's rank in the U.S. for foreign direct investment employment

» $35.9 billion: Total value of holdings by majority-owned foreign companies operating in Florida in 2008 (latest data available)

While the state's position as a hemispheric gateway and its multilingual, multicultural population make it an attractive location, foreign companies face the same challenges as U.S.-based firms. Education concerns are most acute, with foreign firms worried about workforce skills and access to good schools for their employees. And, as Latin American trade with Asia grows, companies need more Floridians who speak Japanese, Mandarin and other Asian languages.

Top Sources of International Jobs (number of jobs)
1) United Kingdom 45,000
2) Canada 24,300
3) Germany 22,600
4) Japan 21,100
5) Netherlands 20,700

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