High-tech connections and global accessibility nurture a robust economy in Southeast Florida.
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Andrea DiGiuseppe had long made frequent trips to Miami for business, but his quick, tightly focused itineraries kept him from seeing all that the city and county had to offer.
"It was always come in and get out," he says.
When DiGiuseppe, president and CEO of Trend Group SpA, an upscale Italian glass and stone company with a single sales rep in Miami, decided to relocate the company's operations to the U.S., he considered several major cities. He had visited New York, and later Los Angeles, where a sister operation-- Rock Solid Granite-- is based.
Then, an extended business trip to Miami one autumn several years ago introduced DiGiuseppe to what the city really had to offer. Miami's port capacity and proximity to Europe would shave 30% off shipping costs and one week off contain ers otherwise bound for Los Angeles through the Panama Canal. The city's location as the "Gateway to the Americas" would open the Caribbean and Latin American markets to the company.
And South Beach's nightlife, Lincoln Road's Italian bistros and Ocean Drive's activity really hooked the native Italian.
"We Italians are connected by food, and this reminded me of Italy. I just grew attached to it," he says. By 2005, Trend USA had opened its new 55,000-square-foot offices and showroom in Miami with 60 new full-time employees. The company has invested $15 million in Miami, and another $25 million in a manufacturing plant at Sebring in Florida's Heartland region.
|Facts & Figures|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau; Demographics USA 2005, TradeDimensions International Inc.; Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. EBI = effective buying/disposable income
"I can meet people from all over the world here," DiGiuseppe says. "You have a new breed of entrepreneur who comes here because it's a city that's in constant change."
New job creation, corporate relocations, housing growth--all amid a desirable climate and attractive quality of life--combine to make Southeast Florida home to a vigorous economy. The "tri-county" hub of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties is now seeing its "Treasure Coast" neighbors to the north--Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties--as well as southernmost Monroe County, gain a sizeable share of residential and business activity, too.
Miami-Dade County's role as self-described "Business Center of the Americas" attracts employers worldwide. Some 1,350 multinational corporations are based in and around Miami, tapping a labor pool of approximately 1.1 million people. Kraft Foods and American International Group (AIG) relocated their Latin American operations here in 2005, and Burger King has decided to keep Miami its home.
Miami-Dade's gross county product tops $80 billion, with trade, bioscience, technology and tourism driving the engine. In 2004, the county saw 10.9 million overnight stays--accounting for a $12.9 billion infusion into the local economy. Local cruise industry behemoths make Southeast Florida their ports--and corporate offices--of call. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. debuted its Freedom of the Seas megaliner here in June 2006, and rival Carnival Cruise Lines, whose owner Micky Arison also owns the NBA championship Miami Heat, has several such "uber" liners of its own on order.
While tourism remains strong, the county's transition to the bioscience, medical and technology sectors offers a strong category for the county's continuing economic development. The University of Miami is spearheading a $1 billion effort over the next decade to create a "health district" of medical treatment and research facilities in downtown Miami. In addition, the Beacon Council has partnered with Enterprise Florida and the Broward Alliance on joint marketing initiatives and attendance at Bio 2006, the annual convention of bio and technology industry leaders and startups. Beacon Council representatives met with attendees, and have scouted several prospective relocations. The Council and the Alliance also refer companies across the county line they share in common to find the most suitable space.
"We've made a concerted effort to diversify the economy," says Beacon Council President and CEO Frank R. Nero, noting that Miami-Dade is today home to companies in aviation, bioscience, financial services, international investment and telecommunications. "That's been the resiliency in the economy here."