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A Surge in Interest

The coastal counties used to be a favorite relocation destination for Northeasterners, but today the region is seeing a surge in new residents from other parts of the state, most looking to take advantage of lower real estate prices.

The list of U.S. counties that supply the most new residents to Volusia starts with nine Florida counties followed by Suffolk County, N.Y., at No. 10. Seminole and Orange counties top the list, with 22% of the total.

"There's a change in who's coming here and from where," says Richard Michael, director of Volusia County's Department of Economic Development. "There are a lot of migratory adjustments are taking place within the state." However, about 18% of people moving out of Volusia aren't going far, heading to Seminole and Orange counties, mostly for jobs, Michael says. "When you start taking a look at the net gain between the in- and out-migration, it comes out about even."

In Brevard County, many people and companies are moving up from the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas, says Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. "We still have available buildings and green fields, and we're seeing a lot of interest from individuals in other parts of Florida."

Key Newcomer

? Specialty auto parts manufacturer BBK Performance Parts of Temecula, Calif., is moving into the new DeLand Crossing industrial park at Interstate 4 and State Road 44 this year. President and CEO Brian Murphy, who founded the company with his younger brother in 1988, is a pilot and aviation buff who will live part of the year in a house he's building in Jumbolair, a fly-in community near Ocala. The DeLand Crossing facility will include 60,000 square feet of warehousing plus a retail store operated by sister company Brothers Performance Warehouse, Murphy says. BBK Performance expects to start hiring early next year and eventually employ 30 there. The company had looked into sites in Ohio, Georgia and other locations but chose Volusia County because of its low cost of living, heavy concentration of aerospace workers and favorable land prices, Murphy says.


Developer Felix Amon is planning projects in Daytona Beach and other parts of the state valued at $6 billion.

Bringing in Talent

? Felix Amon and Amon Investments are developing luxury condominiums and large- scale, mixed-use projects valued at $6 billion from Daytona Beach to Tampa. Austrian-born Amon worked for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly when he visited Daytona on business in 1988 and fell in love with the beach. He invested in real estate there, buying about 35 properties, and moved to Daytona in 1999 to set up his own company to manage them. Amon owns several ReMax franchises and has grown the business from six employees to 155, including his wife, Ursula, who is CFO. "We try to bring in talent from all over the world," Amon says. Some of the employees were from Florida; others came from the Northeast, Colorado and California. The management team is from Atlanta and Miami as well as Austria, Germany, Holland, India, Taiwan and Turkey.

New Companies

? Liberty Aerospace, which designs small aircraft including the Liberty XL2, moved to Melbourne in 2004 and now employs 120.

? Tennessee-based MedSolutions, which provides radiology management for healthcare companies, opened a facility in Melbourne last year and employs 102.

? RMD Americas of Florida moved to Cocoa last year, where it employs 100 people at a facility that focuses on high-tech recycling techniques for copper, aluminum, automobile tires and other materials.

? Arvato Services, a division of German media content provider Bertelsmann AG, took over a former cell phone repair plant in Melbourne and plans to expand to 400 employees.

? Saltwater Boat Group opened in Edgewater last year as a division of Brunswick Boat Group, a pleasure boat manufacturer based in Knoxville, Tenn., that is part of Brunswick Corp. in Lake Forest, Ill. The Saltwater division plans to expand this year either in Volusia or another part of the country.

Daytona Beach

Armed with a $51-million strategic economic development initiative, the county is continuing to lure medical-related manufacturing companies to Daytona Beach and the surrounding areas. "Unless there's a major disturbance in the marketplace, we would anticipate the in-migration to go up and the out-migration to remain stable," says Richard Michael, director of Volusia County's Department of Economic Development. "The biggest concern we have ... is are we going to be able to provide affordable housing for the workforce." ... Residents are watching eminent domain legal decisions that could affect the city's efforts to assume properties along the beach, where redevelopment plans have clashed with longtime business interests. ... The resurgence of the downtown area should continue with the recent opening of the News-Journal Center for performing arts and development of several upscale condominium projects.


Downtown developments are on the upswing in Melbourne, says Cindy Dittmer, planning and economic development director. "That's been a big change."

Melbourne

Downtown is seeing a surge of residents moving into new townhomes and condominiums, and more high-density housing projects are under proposal. "That's been a big change," says Cindy Dittmer, Melbourne's planning and economic development director. "The downtown's pretty vibrant most times of the day. We're a fairly urban area of the county, so that's why we're seeing the trend for higher-density housing." ... One of the biggest concerns right now is easing traffic on crowded roadways such as Wickham Road, Babcock Street and the beach causeways. Moving people into the downtown closer to where they work will help, Dittmer says. Planners are looking at other measures, including new turn lanes, alternative routes and intelligent traffic light systems that work on timing and movement. ... Melbourne-Palm Bay continues to attract new and expanding businesses in manufacturing, particularly in aerospace, aviation, defense, homeland security, electronics, software development, optics, customer service and healthcare. The manufacturing share of Brevard's total non-agricultural employment is 11.9%, more than double that of the statewide average. Officials are expecting a steady in-migration of high-wage employees and a consistently low unemployment rate.

Key Newcomer

? Shannon Meyer, a Wisconsin native who's the new president of the Melbourne-Palm Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, moved to Brevard last year from Minneapolis and is getting kudos from the community for her efforts to add more activities and nightspots for young professionals.

? Although he lives in Tampa, Paul Paluzzi of Zons Development has spent a lot of time lately in South Brevard, where his company is building condominiums along U.S. Highway 1 in Palm Bay and has other projects in the works.

Titusville

Titusville is seeing a migration of residents from inland counties, especially around the Orlando area. "We have convenient access to Orlando, with the luxury of a smaller-town, waterfront atmosphere," says Marcia Gaedcke, president of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce. ... Several projects are looking at ways to deal with the city's growth. Those include a downtown master planning project, a study of the U.S. Highway 1 corridor and a commerce park master planning process. ... Three of the five City Council positions are on the ballot this year, and growth and related issues are expected to be hot topics for the incumbents and new candidates. ... The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast is working to bring six businesses to the Titusville area, all small manufacturing companies or high-tech firms, in the near future.

Palm Coast

Created in the 1970s, the community has seen an out-migration of retirees leaving single-family homes to enter assisted living facilities. Since those are scarce in Palm Coast, residents have had to move to other areas. The city is encouraging new development of elderly housing, says City Manager Richard Kelton. ... The city hit such a peak in permits for new single-family homes in 2004 that when sales fell back to normal levels last year, permits were down by about 30%, "which was not necessarily a bad thing from our standpoint," says Kelton. ... Commercial development is starting to catch up to the residential crunch, Kelton says. One project will put a retail-restaurant town center at Interstate 95 and the Palm Coast Parkway interchange. ... Palm Coast Resort is under redevelopment, with demolition of the old hotel completed and construction under way on the new buildings.

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