Business Florida 2013 - The Regions
Jacksonville, St. Augustine
With a population of more than 1.5 million, Northeast Florida offers a dynamic market for business relocation and expansion. Known for affordability and accessibility, this seven-county region is home to four Fortune 500 companies and at least 80 other corporate, regional and divisional headquarters. Two ports, multiple interstate highways and exceptional air and rail connections have made Northeast Florida a hub for international trade and distribution.
The region’s crown jewel — Jacksonville — is the northernmost big city along Florida’s eastern seaboard. Here, where city and county governments operate as one, businesses looking to relocate or expand are likely to enjoy smooth transitions. With Panama Canal expansion looming large, improvements to the Port of Jacksonville remain a priority. Lately, however, emphasis is shifting to downtown revitalization. There’s a move afoot to lure expanding companies to city center, and EverBank Financial Corporation is leading the charge. In January 2012, EverBank committed to relocate its corporate headquarters — and approximately 1,500 employees — from a suburban office park to a downtown Jacksonville high-rise. Officials are hopeful that EverBank’s move to 270,000 square feet of space at the former AT&T Tower (to be renamed EverBank Center) will spark an urban core resurgence.
Meanwhile, in America’s oldest city — St. Augustine — the German firm 2G Cenergy Power Systems Inc. is making plans to open its first U.S. manufacturing plant and employ an estimated 125 workers. Company officials noted proximity to major ports, strong pool of potential employees with manufacturing experience and proactive business climate as pivotal reasons for locating in the region.
WHO LIVES HERE
Median age in the Jacksonville MSA is 37.7, slightly above the national median age and nearly three years younger than the median age for all Floridians. The area’s six colleges and universities graduate 20,000-plus students each year, many of whom join the labor pool or start businesses in the region to continue enjoying Northeast Florida’s exceptional quality of life.
Skilled and multicultural
Jacksonville has fewer foreign-born residents than most other comparably sized cities in Florida, but the immigrants who do live here are more highly skilled. For every 100 immigrants without a high school diploma, Jacksonville boasts 223 with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.