FLORIDA Perception vs. Reality
Site selectors, economic recruiters, competitors, new business arrivals and those who chose to move elsewhere offer insights on the state.
"I think Florida is many, many years beyond just being viewed as a tourist destination and a retirement haven. Florida has a very good reputation as a place to do business. One challenge is keeping up with infrastructure. A lot of areas are getting behind the curve in terms of congestion and traffic and that is a major issue. The ability to keep up with water, sewer and roads is going to be very important for success."
— Dennis Donovan, site selection consultant
with New Jersey-based WDG Consulting
"We did the first technology strategy for Orlando in 2000. I recall I went around the room and asked 25 of the top stakeholders in the community, ‘How many tech companies do you think you have here?' The guesses ranged from 200 to 400. The community was not aware of its own strengths in this area. They were shocked to find they had a lot of tech companies, but they were hidden behind the Disney brand. They had more tech companies at that time than Austin. Because Florida is such a strong destination for tourists all over the world, that particular brand tends to overwhelm everything."
— Angelos Angelou, CEO of Angelou Economics,
an economic development and site selection consulting firm
based in Austin, Texas
"It is clearly improving. I had some challenges in doing business with various powers that be in Florida in the past because I got the perception, rightly or wrongly, that they were not as pro-business friendly as other locations and states. With the new governor and the new (Department of Commerce) Secretary Gray Swoope, it is clearly a whole different day in Florida. Enterprise Florida is much better today than what I had dealt with in years past. I had to deal with them once, and it was a challenge. Perception is almost 100% of reality in the minds of investors or people helping investors. Customer service and the people who rely on it are extremely important in the site selection process."
— Jay Garner, president of Atlanta-based Garner Economics,
an economic development consulting firm