The big news in economic development circles is Hertz's decision to relocate its headquarters from New Jersey to the southwest Florida community of Estero, near Fort Myers.
While the company cited numerous factors in its decision, the proximity to a first-class airport and a growing university were key factors. In fact, Hertz's headquarters will be just 10 miles from Southwest Florida International Airport, Florida's fifth-busiest, and just five miles from Florida Gulf Coast University.
The announcement is a win for Gov. Rick Scott, Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope and Lee County economic development director Jim Moore, who wooed Hertz with phone calls and a barrage of data, along with county incentives and a $12-million state package.
That's a small price to pay for the prestige of a Fortune 500 company — Florida's 17th — plus spinoff effects that will trump the initial 700 jobs the company plans for its 300,000-sq.-ft. facility.
Hertz, which recently acquired Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, reports $9.0 billion in revenue, so when the headquarters opens in Florida next year, the firm will instantly become one of the 10 largest Florida-based public companies.
Speaking of big companies, this month Florida Trend publishes its annual list of the state's 350 biggest public and private companies. This year's Florida Trend 350 package kicks off with a profile of CNL Financial Group, an Orlando-based real estate company that ranks No. 33 on the private list.
Under the direction of Jim Seneff, who's always looking for the next opportunity, CNL has expanded beyond real estate investing and real estate management into corporate lending.
Why is sea level rising? Is it human activity such as burning carbon-based fuels, or just a natural cycle?
I have my opinion. You have yours. But whether we agree or not, it's a matter of fact that the oceans are rising. As a low-lying peninsula, Florida has more than a little reason to pay attention. See our special report explaining how some impacts are beginning to be felt around Florida, and how sea level rise compounds other issues, from flooding to storm surges to saltwater intrusion. Some communities are beginning to plan. More need to take this threat seriously.
This month marks the 10th anniversary of Florida Legal Elite, a prestigious program run by Florida Trend to recognize the top attorneys in the state as selected by their colleagues. This year, members of the Florida Bar recognized 1,228 of their peers, representing fewer than 2% of all active Bar lawyers practicing in the state.
Of particular note, this year's list includes 278 women, 23% of the total. That is double the percentage from 2004, when we started Legal Elite. Women also make up a similar portion in the “Hall of Fame” for attorneys who have been among the Legal Elite for all 10 years or nearly so. This year, Legal Elite welcomed 28 new members of the Hall of Fame.
While the honorees represent 116 law schools, five universities stand out as contributing the most winners — the UF Levin College of Law, the University of Miami School of Law, the FSU College of Law, Stetson College of Law and Nova Southeastern's Broad Law Center.
The listing also recognizes “Up and Comers” who are under age 40, along with government and non-profit attorneys. Please take a close look at the section.
Fitness update: My training continues apace. Over Memorial Day weekend, I ran a mile in 10:05 barefoot at the beach, so my confidence grows. Now I need to stretch out the distance.
— Andy Corty