Southeast: Sure and Steady Growth
High-tech connections and global accessibility nurture a robust economy in Southeast Florida.
Expanding a university base
With 700 jobs retained and 660 new jobs created, Kaplan University joins collection and investigation services provider Powell, Rogers and Speaks (35 new jobs) and accelerated higher educator Ana G. Mendez University System (23 new jobs) as examples of the success stories coming out of Broward County.
In 2005, Aetna opened a $32 million, 112,000-square-foot prescription mailorder facility in Pompano Beach. The county and its Workforce One recruiting and training arm are staffing most of the 800 jobs that resulted.
Perhaps no new employer has a higher profile here than IKEA North America, the Swedish furniture maker. The Pennsylvania- based company's next Florida location is slated to open in the bustling Sunrise area by summer 2007, and the 350 new jobs it brings won't be standard retail shifts. These jobs will offer competitive wages and full-time benefits for anyone working 20 or more hours a week at the company identi- fied by Fortune and Working Mother magazines as one of the nation's top 100 employers. Each location is home to a full-service regional headquarters, with human resources, accounting, IT, an interior design team, graphics, public relations and a staff cafeteria. Traditionally, up to 90% of employees are new hires, but Sunrise might be the exception to that rule.
"A lot of folks from Sweden want to move to Florida," says Joseph Roth, an executive with the company's site selection group. With Port Everglades and the growing Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at the I-595 terminus, IKEA is just one of many companies selecting Broward, says James "JT" Tarlton, president and CEO of the Broward Alliance Inc.
Local economic development of- ficials participate in trade missions throughout the U.S. as well as to Latin America, Europe and Malaysia. For a company looking to relocate, these missions highlight Broward's emerging global presence.
The county's educational assets also include Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University, both of which have burgeoning campuses in Broward that serve the region's growing population.
Bioscience takes hold
Florida's rapidly growing biotech industry, along with economic development officials in Palm Beach County, was all smiles in February 2006 when Scripps Research Institute, the number one recipient of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, officially made Florida Atlantic University's Jupiter campus its East Coast home. But perhaps no one was smiling more than Dr. Rina Dukor, president and CEO of BioTools Inc. In 2005, the Chicagobased manufacturer of pharmaceutical instruments selected western Palm Beach County for one reason.
"In a word: Scripps," she says. Now that it's a done deal, Dukor can look con- fidently to the future, anticipating the blossoming of the region's life-sciences sector amid an industrial and academic environment. Even as a 10-person company, BioTools will get noticed, she says.
Dukor is working with the local Workforce Alliance initiative to staff up. Enterprise Florida and county officials have introduced her to the right people, resolved zoning issues and helped her carve a niche in the local market.
While landing Scripps has put the spotlight on Florida Atlantic University, it is only one of many schools in this region servicing the biotechnology sector. Palm Beach Community College is building an 81,000-square-foot bioscience training facility in Palm Beach Gardens, and the Palm Beach County Public Schools has a bioscience magnet program under development. FAU, the University of Miami and Boca Raton Community Hospital are collaborating on a regional academic medical center and teaching hospital.
New clusters in other key sectors are also emerging, according to Kelly Smallridge, president, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County. Seven of 13 new projects slated for Palm Beach County are in the aviation sector, resulting in 1,000 new and 500 retained jobs.
The Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) provides engineering expertise to small businesses in the region. SATOP is a free service designed to speed the transfer of space technology to the private sector.