Economic yearbook 2011
Southeast - Yearbook
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: CHS Pharma — The young company working on a drug treatment for a pre-cancerous skin condition moved to Jupiter from Miami last year with just a handful of full-time employees and the expectation of hiring approximately 25 over five years. Founder Stephen Chakoff, 59, relocated the company to be in the midst of the biotech hub around Scripps Florida and to be near Florida Atlantic University's Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Jupiter, from which he's licensed technology. Chakoff says he hopes to be near his goal of 25 hires internally by year-end. "It's working out phenomenal for us," Chakoff says.
EMERGING STAR: The Omphoy Ocean Resort — The Palm Beach resort timed its 2009 opening poorly — after the season and amid the recession. The 130-room hotel, the first oceanfront hotel on the island in 18 years, went into receivership last August. But tourism is rebounding, and the boutique hotel has found an audience. Owned by the Schlesinger family, which also owns the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach, the Traymore Hotel in Miami Beach and the Mayfair in Miami, the hotel has seen business increase 40% over 2009. "Our pace is far ahead of last year. Our hotel is pretty much the little train that could," says general manager Deborah Carr.
HEAVY HITTER: SBA Communications — A securities lawyer-turned-executive, Jeffrey Stoops, 51, leads SBA Communications, owner and operator of cell-phone towers in North and Central America. SBA is the Palm Beach County-based company with the second-highest market cap behind Florida Power & Light owner NextEra Energy. Stoops, an FSU grad, became CEO in 2002. The company supports Florida Atlantic University's business school, the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens and economic development efforts. SBA employs more than 250 of its nearly 750 employees in Palm Beach County. "We've been hiring," says spokeswoman Lynne Hopkins.
Stephen J. Klingel, president/CEO, NCCI Holdings — Under Stephen J. Klingel, workers' comp insurance data and research company NCCI Holdings kept employment stable through the recession. It employs nearly 840 in Florida. Community relations director Judy Joffe says the company won't need to hire this year.
H. William "Bill" Perry, managing shareholder, Gunster — Bill Perry moved up to managing shareholder of West Palm Beach-based law firm Gunster in 2008. Perry, a Gunster real estate lawyer since finishing law school at UF, leads the 85-year-old firm as it looks to follow an expansion into Jacksonville and Tallahassee with offices opening in Orlando and Tampa. It has 360 lawyers and staff.
Bill Koch, chairman, Oxbow Carbon — Billionaire Bill Koch has put up $50 million to launch a private school in West Palm Beach this fall called Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches. Economic recruiters use Oxbridge to answer the inevitable questions about school quality they face when dealing with companies considering relocation to Florida.
Boca Raton fared better than most in the recession, and it's rolling out well. An effort to rebrand downtown shopping areas is under way. Tourism growth led the county in a county that led the state in hotel occupancy growth. Major corporate headquarters and offices for the likes of IBM, ADT and Office Depot lend stability, as does Florida Atlantic University, which has a standout new engineering building, a med school opening this fall and a 30,000-seat football stadium under construction that will be ready for the upcoming season.