October 26, 2014

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Southeast Florida

West Palm Beach/Palm Beach County

» Four of the world’s largest security firms now have their international or U.S. headquarters in the county: Garda World Security’s U.S. headquarters for its Garda Cash Logistics; Geo Group; G4S security personnel firm; and ADT — newly public after Tyco International spun it off. ADT opened a research and development center and expects to hire 120 employees during the next couple of years at its Boca Raton headquarters.

»  After years of downsizing its workforce here, Pratt & Whitney is expanding, spending $63 million to renovate its current West Palm Beach facility and build an 80,000- to 100,000-sq.-ft. plant. It expects to add some 230 jobs supporting an anticipated ramp-up for development of its PurePower and F135 military engines.

» On a less positive note, outdoor furniture retailer Carls Patio declared bankruptcy in January, after closing five stores in California and four in Florida.

»  The Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts planned for downtown West Palm Beach has been scrapped. The city invested $2 million and three years of work to help FSU and industry partner Digital Domain Media Group set up the animation and digital arts degree program. But Digital Domain’s September bankruptcy left the school without a partner.

»  Wellington remains mired in a battle over development at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Wellington Equestrian Partners, which produces two of the world’s largest equestrian festivals at the center, wants to build a new equestrian show grounds, along with a hotel and retail development. Many area residents object to the non-equestrian parts of the project.
A lawsuit brought by Equestrian Partners is pending.

Inland Port

» For years, Palm Beach County has wanted to build an “inland port” near Lake Okeechobee, in the hopes that cargo companies would move their goods from the three south Florida seaports via train and truck into an inland logistics center. Last year, the county approved agricultural giant Florida Crystals’ 850-acre South Florida Intermodal Logistics Center for just that purpose. The company can build up to 10 million square feet of distribution and warehouse space, plus a rail yard. It has partnered with industrial real estate powerhouse IDI to develop the land. The next step: Secure tenants.

Businesses to Watch

» Landstar Group: In October, Coral Gables-based Landstar Development Group paid $20 million for the site of the Vavrus Ranch in Palm Beach Gardens. The property, adjacent to Mecca Farms, was envisioned as an important bedroom community for Scripps Research Institute before Scripps decided on a location in Jupiter. Landstar reportedly plans a mixed-used office, retail and single-family homes project on the land and will submit a proposal during the first half of this year.

» Office Depot: The nation’s No. 2 office retailer has announced a merger with No. 3 OfficeMax. Office Depot will be the buyer, using its stock. The companies have not yet determined where the combined company will be based, what it will be named or who will lead it.

» Oasis Outsourcing: During the past two years, Oasis Outsourcing, a PEO, has grown the base of employees it serves from 85,000 to 125,000, with more than $4.5 billion in annual revenue. Now, Oasis is expanding its headquarters by 20%.

» Related Cos.: The New York-based company has the final go-ahead to build a 400-room convention hotel and garage next to the Palm Beach County convention center. The company will get a $27-million public subsidy for construction of the hotel and must begin construction before mid-2014. The county will own the hotel, along with the land it sits on, which means the hotel won’t pay property taxes. Instead, Related agreed to pay the city $27.2 million over 33 years.

People to Watch

» James Robo: Robo became CEO of Florida Power & Light parent company NextEra Energy last July, taking over for Lewis Hay III after 11 years. Now in his first full year as CEO, and with Hay set to retire as NextEra’s executive chairman at the end of the year, Robo is fully in charge at the $14.3-billion Juno Beach-based company.

» Michael Massanoff: Massanoff needs just a few more approvals and he can start his $300-million Transit Village mixed-use development next to the city’s Tri-Rail station. He anticipates having 400,000 square feet of offices, 375 hotel rooms, 300 residences, retail, a parking garage and civic/educational space.

» David Fitzpatrick: Now that the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience has moved into its own space in Jupiter, CEO David Fitzpatrick can concentrate on attracting more scientists and pushing for the kinds of research and spinoffs that will justify the $188 million in state and local investment in the facility.

» Dennis P. Gallon: The Palm Beach State College president hopes to expand to a fifth campus, in Loxahatchee Groves. But he has to convince the town’s residents, many of whom worry it will destroy the rural life there

Palm Beach Population: 1,389,931
Population Growth Rate (2009-13): 1.54%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
16.49% 5.79% 22.95% 32.55% 22.22%
Per Capita Income: $55,980

Tags: Southeast, Economic Yearbook

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