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In February 2013, Verizon Communications Inc. announced plans to consolidate its finance operations at two U.S. sites. That one of them would be in Lake Mary, Florida, may have caught some by surprise, but it was no spur-of-the-moment decision. Verizon had begun “shopping” nearly a year before.

Florida At A Glance

  • Population:
    19.3 million
    4th largest in the U.S.
  • Civilian Labor Force
    9.4 million
    4th largest in the U.S.
  • Gross Domestic Product
    $771.2 billion
    4th largest in the U.S.
  • Total Personal Income
    $779.3 billion
    4th highest in the U.S.
    1st in the Southeast
  • Per Capita
    Personal Income
    2nd in the Southeast

“We looked at three things from the start,” says Karan Mehta, director corporate finance, Verizon who was directly involved in the selection process, “availability of qualified talent, cost of doing business and quality of life.”

On paper, he says, metro Orlando was an early and serious contender; an incognito visit to the region helped clinch the deal. Making no mention of Verizon, the site selection committee spoke with representatives from the University of Central Florida, Valencia College and other area educational institutions to assess the prospects of finding skilled accounting personnel over the long term; had closed-door discussions with select local companies about their business experiences in Florida; and investigated the quality of daily life in and around Orlando.

Says Mehta, “The companies we spoke with were able to attract quality talent and to easily grow their workforces. We were certain we’d be able to do the same.”

The four-story, 220,000-sq.-ft. structure that will become Verizon’s Lake Mary-based financial operations center is now under construction and expected to open by April 2014 with the promise of 750 new jobs. Says Mehta, “The fact that our building will be completed in under a year, is just another example of how the local community has supported us in executing our plan.”

Florida is committed to nurturing a climate in which businesses can grow with a minimum of red tape and a maximum of encouragement. Over the last two years, the state has cut business taxes by more than $1 billion and eliminated more than 2,600 costly and outdated regulations. Efforts continue to make permitting processes quicker, less costly and more predictable, and Florida remains one of only 10 states with a right-to-work provision in its constitution.

» No. 1 State for Innovation (Fast Company)

» No. 2 Best State for Business (Chief Executive)

» No. 2 Best Business Climate (Business Facilities)

» No. 5 Best State Business Tax Climate  (TaxFoundation.org)