As one of Florida’s most diverse and densely populated regions, Southeast offers plenty of business advantages — exceptional international connectivity, a multicultural workforce and a quality of life that is difficult to match.
In this seven-county region, the issue isn’t finding an ideal site for expansion; it’s narrowing the choices down to just one.
Consider, for example, the “tricounty” area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach: each has an international airport and a deepwater port, each could rightly claim the title “Gateway to Latin America.” Here and elsewhere across the region, companies engaged in such varied industries as global commerce, life sciences and renewable energy are thriving, and progressive educational institutions are launching new curricula to supply the workers they require. And as if this cake needed further decoration, there’s tourism too. From Indian River County to the Florida Keys, hotel occupancy is up, and cosmopolitan communities are only too happy to show off their attributes to visitors and residents alike.
WHO LIVES HERE
Southeast Florida is the quintessential American melting pot — good news for companies doing business globally. At 37.1%, the foreign-born population of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties is higher than in any other major U.S. metropolitan area. Hispanics are the most prevalent immigrant group, averaging 24.5% of the population across all seven counties. In the city of Miami alone, seven out of every 10 residents is Hispanic. No wonder South Florida is home to six of the 10 largest Hispanic-owned companies in the U.S.
Happy at work
Southeast Florida is a great place to work, but don’t just take our word for it; ask the employees themselves. In a recent survey about career opportunities and workplace satisfaction by online career site CareerBliss.com, Miami topped the list of “Happiest Cities for Work,” and Fort Lauderdale ranked No. 2 on “Cities with the Happiest Young Professionals.”
With almost twice as many households in downtown Miami today as in 2000, developers are taking notice: Brickell CitiCentre, a $1-billion combination retail-office-hotel-condo project is in the works on three downtown blocks, and a Walmart supercenter is planned for Miami’s hip Midtown neighborhood. Fort Lauderdale is seeing a downtown construction surge as the first of many planned apartment units take shape, fueled by an influx of young professionals.
Distribution and Trade
Exceptional accessibility makes this region attractive to companies engaged in domestic and/or international distribution. In 2012, the Miami Customs District, which includes airports and seaports from Palm Beach to Key West, edged out San Francisco to become one of the top 10 customs districts nationwide for the dollar value of international trade it handles.
• First came Scripps Florida to Jupiter, then Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies to Port St. Lucie. Today, these renowned research institutes anchor growing life sciences clusters:
Near Torrey Pines, the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida has settled into its new 100,000-sq.-ft. facility where research centers on the human immune system’s capability to battle infectious disease and chronic conditions.
Near Scripps, employees of Max Planck Florida Institute have moved into a new $64-million building to continue their study of brain function and neural circuits. And coming soon to the Jupiter cluster: the new headquarters of Somahlution, a North Dakota-based company focusing on organ transplant science.
• The University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park opened its first building in fall 2011, the start of what UM and developer Wexford Science & Technology hope will become a life science/technology “ecosystem” incorporating five buildings and 2 million square feet of laboratory and office space adjacent to UM’s Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Tenants include Florida’s bioscience industry association BioFlorida and several foreign firms establishing their first U.S. foothold.
• Solar: FPL’s $600-million 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 approximately 155,000 megawatt-hours to power 11,000 homes.
• Wind: Missouri-based Wind Capital Group received the green light in spring 2012 to proceed with plans for Florida’s first commercial wind farm in western Palm Beach County, a project expected to generate enough power for up to 40,000 homes.
• Biomass: Under construction in Indian River County, INEOS BioEnergy’s $130-million demonstration plant is expected to produce eight million gallons of cellulosic ethanol and six megawatts of electricity per year, enough to power 1,400 homes using vegetative waste.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Miami’s Design District comprises 18 square blocks of warehouses converted into design showrooms, cafes and art galleries. In Davie, Young at Art Children’s Museum, a longtime favorite of Broward County parents, has opened in a new, 55,000-sq.-ft. facility. In Fort Pierce, the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery showcases the works of its namesake and other landscape artists, including the Florida Highwaymen, 26 African-Americans who traveled the state painting and selling their Florida scenes.
Shop ‘til you drop
Whether bargain basement or high-end designer, Southeast Florida has the right retail fashion venue. Broward County’s Sawgrass Mills Mall — the nation’s largest outlet mall and a top tourist destination — is adding 180,000 square feet of retail space. Bal Harbour Shops, the 16-acre, two-story luxury shopping mall in North Miami Beach, features the likes of Neiman Marcus, Prada and Chanel.
Education worth celebrating
This region’s 15 colleges and universities include Nova Southeastern University, 7th largest nonprofit private university in the U.S. and home to America’s largest coral reef research center, and Florida Atlantic University, marking its 50th anniversary in 2012 with a new football stadium and a new medical school. Indian River State College, known for its career development curriculum, features the Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) and Laser Technology, Photonics & Optics Institute. Public schools here are boast-worthy, too. In 2011, Miami-Dade — the nation’s 4th largest public school district — was among four finalists for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which honors urban school district improvements.
Latin American access
Electronic manufacturing/technology company Emerson Electric is consolidating operations and relocating its regional headquarters at a single site in Sunrise to take advantage of Southeast Florida’s proximity to Latin America. Other companies relocating to improve their Latin American access:
• Motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson Inc. is moving its Latin America operations out of Milwaukee to create a permanent Latin American HQ in Miami.
• SAB Miller, the company behind Miller, Coors Light and Corona beers, will move its Latin American HQ out of Bogotá, Colombia, and into Miami.
• American Express - Plantation
• First Data Corporation - Coral Springs
• Zimmerman Advertising - Fort Lauderdale
• Bacardi - Coral Gables
• NextEra Energy Inc./Florida Power & Light - Juno Beach
• Jackson Health System - Miami
• Liberty Medical Supply - Port St. Lucie
• Martin Memorial Health Systems - Stuart
• Citrix Systems Inc. - Fort Lauderdale
• G4S Secure Solutions Inc. - Jupiter
• Carnival Cruise Lines - Miami
• Spirit Airlines - Miramar