October 25, 2014

FLORIDA Perception vs. Reality

Sounding Board: What does Florida mean to you?

Site selectors, economic recruiters, competitors, new business arrivals and those who chose to move elsewhere offer insights on the state.

ARRIVALS
?? (people who chose to move to Florida)

Joe Meterchick

"I grew up in Philadelphia. I worked for PNC Bank since 1981. I liked working in Philadelphia, but I did it so many years I wanted a new challenge. I've had a house in Sarasota for a number of years, so I love Florida. Every year I stuck my hand up and said, ‘Can I come to Florida?' The problem was the only thing we had down here was wealth management until we bought National City. I came down in 2009. It's been fun. I find what happened is a lot of people came here from somewhere else and somebody helped them and I'm very happy they're helping me. In my world and the PNC world, we couldn't have been happier than to come to Florida. It was always something I wanted to do and the bank wanted to do. People couldn't be nicer and more welcoming."

Joe Meterchick, regional president/west Florida for PNC Bank in Tampa

Stephen Gardell

"I came in 2009. My familiarity with Florida would have been solely as a tourist destination. In terms of being a hub for what could be a destination for biomedical research, Florida would not have been on my list. I went into this — I wouldn't say it was outright skepticism — I was wary. I was wary this could actually become a reality down here in terms of being able to attract top-rate talent and truly to what extent this would be an incubator for groundbreaking research and the drugs of tomorrow. It's actually exceeded my expectations. In many respects, this really represented a greenfield for us down here. One of the things we're fond of saying, ‘The scientists who have come down here, we're very much pioneers.' This really gave us the opportunity to build something and mold something. It's always very satisfying to create something."

Stephen Gardell, Ph.D., associate professor/director of Translational Research Resources at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando

Michael Jacobsen

"It took me 18 years in the Navy to get stationed in Mayport (in Jacksonville). I had heard about Mayport being a great place to be stationed. I was down here for about three hours when I realized why people said it was great. ... My oldest is a freshman at FSU, and the other three are in high school. I live in St. Johns County. Good public school system, good church — all sorts of sports."

Capt. Michael Jacobsen, retired from the U.S. Navy in Jacksonville

Alberto Munoz

"We're from Spain. When we decided to come to the States, we checked New York, also Texas and Florida. We were completely sure Miami was the area we wanted to be. We came here five years ago. Miami is the most attractive place to be because the language and culture are very, very similar. It's the gateway to Latin America and also from Europe.

Miami is a huge city that's moving fast. We believe this city has a great potential. We feel this is the right place to be. The States in general are an open market; it's easy to get in. The authorities help to get your business here. It's a safe way to open a new market. The States are almost recovering, and Europe is still in trouble after five years."

Alberto Muñoz, CEO of Espacio USA in Miami

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