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Southeast Florida

Naples
A planned dredging project will deepen the Port of Miami to accommodate fully-loaded post-Panamax ships by 2014. [Photo: Port of Miami]

For CEOs looking to settle in Southeast Florida, the issue isn't finding a site; the issue is narrowing their choices down to just one.

Consider these options: The "tricounty" area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — each with international airports, each similarly able to lay some claim to the title "Gateway to Latin America" for businesses seeking international access and trade. Life science, high-tech, telecommunications, green energy and healthcare industries thrive across the region as governments use incentives to lure investment, and colleges and universities launch new curricula to meet the need for high-wage jobs.

Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale is home to some 150 corporate headquarters. The city proper has just shy of 200,000 residents, centered neatly amid a greater metro area of 5.4 million residents. {Photo: iStockphoto]
Meanwhile, from the Florida Keys up to Indian River County, tourism sells cosmopolitan communities basking in year-round outdoor lifestyle. To be sure, CEOs will find ample reasons to sink permanent roots.

Who Lives Here

Multicultural: This region is a snapshot of the American melting pot — good news for employers doing business in the Americas. Miami is two-thirds Hispanic; the Hispanic population in Port St. Lucie (now Florida's 9th-largest incorporated city) jumped 192% with the 2010 census. During that time, the entire region's Hispanic population grew by 37%.

Engineers: International aerospace company Chromalloy is relocating its headquarters from New York to Palm Beach Gardens. One reason: the availability of engineers as a result of downsizing in Florida's space program. Ditto for American Energy Innovations, which also plans to tap into this skilled and ready labor pool.

Best Choice

American Energy Innovations opened its wind and water turbine blade manufacturing plant on 63 acres in Martin County in January 2011. Ultimately, the $4-million, 60,000-sq.-ft. plant will employ 600 workers, 20% of whom will be former space industry engineers. Managing Director Philip Catsman had been building blades overseas — until the recession drove him back stateside, where he found cheaper raw materials, abundant skilled labor and reasonable shipping costs. "There's great logistics and a strong work ethic in South Florida," he says. "You don't have to go overseas. You just have to put your thinking cap on."

Economic Life

Downtown Revitalization

» Genting Malaysia Berhad paid $236 million for the Miami Herald's 13.9-acre bayfront parcel in downtown Miami.Its subsidiary, Resorts World, plans a $3-billion resort destination. The deal shows "an interest in the urban core," says Alyce Robertson, Miami Downtown Development Authority's executive director. "When you look at the tax bases, downtown re-urbanization is happening."

Southeast Florida: At A Glance
Southeast Florida
Demographics for the Southeast Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.

Regional Assets

Universities/Colleges
• Barry University
• Broward College
• Florida Atlantic University
• Florida International University
• Florida Keys Community College
• Florida Memorial University
• Indian River State College
• Lynn University
• Miami Dade College
• Nova Southeastern University
• Palm Beach Atlantic University
• Palm Beach State College
• St. Thomas University
• University of Miami

Airports
• Florida Keys Marathon Airport
• Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
  International Airport
• Key West International Airport
• Miami International Airport
• Palm Beach International Airport

Seaports
• Port Everglades
• Port of Fort Pierce
• Port of Key West
• Port of Miami-Dade
• Port of Palm Beach

Biometrics

» The U.S. Navy SEALs Team that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 needed immediate — and exact — confirmation of their target and they got it thanks to the kind of portable facial recognition tools available from Cross Match Technologies Inc. The Palm Beach Gardens-based company manufactures SEEK II, a hand-held device that can be used to scan fingerprints, faces and irises in the field, then interface with the FBI's database of 60,000-plus known terrorists via 3G or satellite for positive IDs within seconds.

Green Technology

» NextEra Energy, Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Scripps Research Institute are collaborating on "green" research to: (1) improve the economic viability of large-scale clean energy expansions; (2) increase output of next-generation renewable energy technologies; and (3) enhance the efficiency and storage capabilities of the nation's electric grid.

» FPL's Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Indiantown — the world's first hybrid solar facility and the largest solar thermal plant outside of California — generates an estimated 155,000 megawatt - hours to power roughly 11,000 homes.

» Under construction in Indian River County, INEOS New Planet BioEnergy's $130-million demonstration plant is expected to produce 8 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from renewable biomass beginning in 2012.

Tourism

Travel trends are spurring regional reinvestment:

» Key West, closest U.S. city to Cuba and poised to become the official exit/entry port should relations be normalized, has consolidated its city waterfront operations for greater efficiency.

» Islamorada's venerable Holiday Isle Beach Resort & Marina capped a $10.5-million makeover.

» Miami spent $100,000 on a summer 2011 ad blitz inviting Northerners down for — would you believe? — the cooler temps.

Next page: Southeast Florida's quality of life and notable employers

Naples
Disney's Vero Beach Resort is a draw for visitors to Florida's picturesque Atlantic coast. [Photo: Disney]

Quality of Life

Reasons to be here: In July 2011, global manufacturing/technology giant Emerson selected Sunrise for its Latin American regional headquarters. Company officials and others cite the region's "world-class quality of life," a flourishing entertainment scene and strong business collaboration as influences. For its part, Palm Beach County ranks among the nation's least expensive markets to run a company. "When you combine awesome people with a great climate, solid infrastructure and low taxes, why would you start a business anywhere else?" says Boca-based tech firm 3Cinteractive CEO John Duffy, whose free time is spent building motorcycles and playing guitars.

Play ball: Sports teams need homes. The Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat and Florida Panthers have theirs. Next up:

» The Florida Marlins' retractable-roof ballpark opening for the 2012 season

» Florida Atlantic University's new football stadium, set to debut this season

» A rejuvenated Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter hosts the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals for spring training, and Minor League Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals all summer.

Notable Employers

Downtown Miami
A recent surge in condo sales has swelled Miami's nighttime population to 70,000 and brought downtown streets alive after dark. [Photo: Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce]
Financial Services

  • American Express, Plantation
  • First Data, Coral Springs

Professional Services

  • Zimmerman Advertising, Fort Lauderdale

Package Goods

  • Bacardi, Coral Gables

Energy

  • NextEra Energy Inc./Florida Power & Light, Juno Beach

Healthcare

  • Liberty Medical Supply, Port St. Lucie

Retail Distribution

  • QVC Inc., Port St. Lucie
  • Wal-Mart/Wal-Mart Distribution Center, St. Lucie County

Technology

  • G4S Secure Solutions Inc. (formerly The Wackenhut Corporation), Palm Beach Gardens

Travel / Tourism

  • Carnival Cruise Lines, Miami
  • Spirit Airlines, Miramar