Business Florida 2011 - The Regions
Southeast Florida profits from right combination of tourism, trade, technology and team sports.
Scheduled to open in April 2012, the new 37,000-seat Florida Marlins ballpark is expected to be the nation's first LEED-certified stadium with a retractable roof. [Photo: Florida Marlins/Populous]
Basketball icon LeBron James did more than help the Miami Heat close out season ticket sales in a single night when he proclaimed in July 2010, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach." For many, he validated Southeast Florida's position as a global community with limitless growth potential.
Tourism leaders envisioned a spike in travel. Real estate agents pictured the commissions they would earn from the sale of mega-homes to James and his fellow superstars. Developers hoped for an upsurge in residential and retail growth. And while all of this may come to pass, James' announcement won't be the sole reason Southeast Florida is headed skyward.
Renewed infrastructure and tourism
Recent events in Miami — groundbreaking for the $900-million Port of Miami Tunnel in spring 2010, continued construction on the Florida Marlins' $642-million, retractable-roof ballpark and the resurgence of life in 22,000 downtown Miami condos — bode well for Southeast Florida's economic future. Tunnel construction is expected to bring 400 jobs over the next four years. Downtown, almost 50 retail establishments have opened in the past year, fueled in large part by a surge in urban core population since 2000.
Demographics for the Southeast Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
Throughout this region, tourism remains vital to economic viability. In 2010, Key West International Airport opened a new 30,000-square-foot terminal building to accommodate the 450,000 passengers passing through each year. In Marathon, Spottswood Companies Inc. is nearing completion of its $20-million Holiday Inn Express & Suites property, the only new hotel to be built in the Florida Keys in 2010.
Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Epic arrived at the Port of Miami in summer 2010. Royal Caribbean Cruises docks its two largest vessels — the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas and sister ship, Allure of the Seas — at Port Everglades. And not to be out-maneuvered, Carnival Cruise Lines has inked a deal with Port Everglades to deliver $500 million from 25.5 million passengers over the next 15 years.
Regional cooperation attracts business
A new "Job Creation Tool Kit" aligns Martin County with area non-profits and others to spur job growth, says Ron Bunch, executive director of the Business Development Board of Martin County Inc. Collaboration among economic development offices in Martin, Okeechobee, St. Lucie and Indian River counties as well as area workforce organizations is helping to advance this region as "Florida's Research Coast."
In Miami-Dade County, "Miami: Where Worlds Meet" is a collaboration of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Beacon Council (Miami's economic development organization), regional health provider Baptist Health South Florida, the Miami Downtown Development Authority, American Airlines and others, to promote the area's "live, work, play" mantra in specific U.S. target markets, Brazil and Canada.
The Beacon Council also is partnering with the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward Alliance and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County in an ongoing campaign, "South Florida: Your Global Business Connection." The program has distributed multilingual economic development materials in Spanish, French, Italian and German; Portuguese and Mandarin versions are planned.
All-natural products distributor Great Healthworks has moved closer to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, funded in part by its share of the new $450-million Florida Mezzanine Fund. The company will add 200 new jobs paying up to $50,000 each, up from 16 employees two years ago, says Jeff Roman, vice president of business development.