by Mike Vogel
Updated 10 months ago
Business leaders report an economy heading out of recession. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport saw passenger numbers increase for 16 consecutive months through December. The port recently set a world record for cruise passengers.
BROWARD COUNTY GOALS
Make municipal permitting processes more transparent and improve businesses' access to capital.
Carry on an effort to rebrand the county, for headquarters recruitment purposes, as Greater Fort Lauderdale, an effort pushed by the itself rebranded Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. The campaign is "Life. Less Taxing."
After a series of arrests and indictments of elected county and municipal officials, clean up the county's pay-to-play image.
|MSA||DEC. 2010||DEC 2009||% Change||Jobless Rate|
|Fort Lauderdale/ Pompano/ Deerfield Beach||878,609||881,136||-0.3%||10.2%|
|West Palm/ Boca Raton/ Boynton Beach||551,619||544,052||+1.4%||11.5%|
|Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation
|Homes Single-family, existing-home sales by Realtors|
|MSA||Jan. 2011 Sales||1-Year Change||Jan. 2011 Price||1-Year Change|
|West Palm Beach/
|Source: Florida Realtors|
|Broward Population: 1,815,860|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.97%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $40,981|
Florida's largest road project, the $1.8-billion expansion and future operation of I-595 through central Broward, employed 1,800 from 142 companies in December. Construction will be completed in 2014. The project is unusual in that the state contracted with a consortium led by Madrid-based ACS Infrastructure that will be wholly responsible for designing, building and financing the construction, which includes express lanes and improvements to I-95 and Florida's Turnpike, and operating and maintaining the roadway until 2044.stors make plans to sell.
[Photo: Smith Aerial]
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: BRS Aerospace — Since opening a factory in Pompano Beach in 2010, BRS Aerospace, a Minnesota-based maker of cargo parachutes for the military, has made strides toward its goal of reaching 337 in employment this year.
EMERGING STAR: Patriot National — Workers' comp writer Patriot National had just one employee in Fort Lauderdale five years ago when founder and CEO Steven Mariano moved the company from North Carolina. It's grown to 180 downtown and a total of 350 nationally, including offices in Lake Mary and Sarasota. Mariano anticipates 20% to 25% sales growth this year and another 40 employees downtown. Mariano, 46, who founded and sold two companies before starting Patriot in 2003, says, "We think the economy is slowly recovering, and I do mean slowly, but it is recovering."
HEAVY HITTER: AutoNation — At last, car sales are on the rebound. On the heels of strong earnings, retailer AutoNation, Fort Lauderdale's largest public company as well as Florida's and the nation's largest car dealer, is hiring. "There clearly are going to be job opportunities in Florida," says spokesman Marc Cannon. The company plans to have more than 20,000 employees by year-end nationally, up from 19,500 at the beginning of the year. AutoNation projects the industry will sell 12.8 million new vehicles this year, up from 11.6 million last year. Credit availability is improving even for subprime borrowers. The company recently finished a new Mercedes dealership in Miami and is building new dealerships in Sarasota, Orlando and Coconut Creek.
Dr. Roger J. Medel, co-founder, Mednax — 63-year-old Roger Medel, who founded Mednax in 1979, keeps a low media profile, but his company has a high profile in its two specialties, providing neotalogists and anesthesiologists to hospitals. Starting with a single neonatology group, the acquisition-minded CEO has grown Mednax, as of its last annual report, to 1,484 affiliated doctors, 1,424 contracted or employed advanced practice nurses and other clinical professionals and 2,726 other full-time and part-time employees. His powerhouse board includes Cesar Alvarez, executive chairman of Greenberg Traurig, healthcare entrepreneur Michael Fernandez and UM President Donna Shalala.
Laurans Mendelson, CEO, Heico — Airlines, just like car owners, use aftermarket parts to save on repair and maintenance. Hollywood-based Heico has done well providing such parts under CEO and CPA Laurans Mendelson, 72, and his sons, Victor and Eric. They took over the company in 1989 after a proxy fight that, "interestingly enough, we lost," Victor Mendelson says. The company expanded the aftermarket business and went into space, medical, telecom and electronics. Its market cap rose from $25 million when they took over to $1.8 billion. The company employs 750 in Florida and 2,400 overall. It's hiring, especially in engineering, and had a record $55-million profit for the year ended Oct. 31.
Christopher Miller, COO, Associated Grocers of Florida — As COO of the cooperative that supplies independent retailers,
West Palm beach / palm beach county
|Palm Beach Population: 1,327,170|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.21%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $54,631|
PALM BEACH COUNTY GOALS
Get more of a return, in the form of jobs and company startups and relocations, on the $500 million laid out by the state and county to recruit Scripps to Jupiter to jumpstart a life sciences hub in the county.
Become one of the first urban counties to implement a local economic strategy framework that mirrors the Florida Chamber Foundation's "Six Pillars."
Find ways to match or exceed rival communities in Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia in streamlining governmental approvals for relocating or expanding businesses.
Increase exports and imports.
Increase outreach to companies in key states, primarily in the Northeast.
In January, county convention and visitors bureau CEO Jorge Pesquera (at right) reported the county led the state in occupancy growth with nearly 10%.
"Travel and tourism is looking much stronger," says Dennis Grady, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.
[Photo: Scott Wiseman]
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: CHS Pharma — The young company working on a drug treatment for a pre-cancerous skin condition moved to Jupiter from Miami last year with just a handful of full-time employees and the expectation of hiring approximately 25 over five years. Founder Stephen Chakoff, 59, relocated the company to be in the midst of the biotech hub around Scripps Florida and to be near Florida Atlantic University's Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Jupiter, from which he's licensed technology. Chakoff says he hopes to be near his goal of 25 hires internally by year-end. "It's working out phenomenal for us," Chakoff says.
EMERGING STAR: The Omphoy Ocean Resort — The Palm Beach resort timed its 2009 opening poorly — after the season and amid the recession. The 130-room hotel, the first oceanfront hotel on the island in 18 years, went into receivership last August. But tourism is rebounding, and the boutique hotel has found an audience. Owned by the Schlesinger family, which also owns the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach, the Traymore Hotel in Miami Beach and the Mayfair in Miami, the hotel has seen business increase 40% over 2009. "Our pace is far ahead of last year. Our hotel is pretty much the little train that could," says general manager Deborah Carr.
HEAVY HITTER: SBA Communications — A securities lawyer-turned-executive, Jeffrey Stoops, 51, leads SBA Communications, owner and operator of cell-phone towers in North and Central America. SBA is the Palm Beach County-based company with the second-highest market cap behind Florida Power & Light owner NextEra Energy. Stoops, an FSU grad, became CEO in 2002. The company supports Florida Atlantic University's business school, the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens and economic development efforts. SBA employs more than 250 of its nearly 750 employees in Palm Beach County. "We've been hiring," says spokeswoman Lynne Hopkins.
Stephen J. Klingel, president/CEO, NCCI Holdings — Under Stephen J. Klingel, workers' comp insurance data and research company NCCI Holdings kept employment stable through the recession. It employs nearly 840 in Florida. Community relations director Judy Joffe says the company won't need to hire this year.
H. William "Bill" Perry, managing shareholder, Gunster — Bill Perry moved up to managing shareholder of West Palm Beach-based law firm Gunster in 2008. Perry, a Gunster real estate lawyer since finishing law school at UF, leads the 85-year-old firm as it looks to follow an expansion into Jacksonville and Tallahassee with offices opening in Orlando and Tampa. It has 360 lawyers and staff.
Bill Koch, chairman, Oxbow Carbon — Billionaire Bill Koch has put up $50 million to launch a private school in West Palm Beach this fall called Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches. Economic recruiters use Oxbridge to answer the inevitable questions about school quality they face when dealing with companies considering relocation to Florida.
Boca Raton fared better than most in the recession, and it's rolling out well. An effort to rebrand downtown shopping areas is under way. Tourism growth led the county in a county that led the state in hotel occupancy growth. Major corporate headquarters and offices for the likes of IBM, ADT and Office Depot lend stability, as does Florida Atlantic University, which has a standout new engineering building, a med school opening this fall and a 30,000-seat football stadium under construction that will be ready for the upcoming season.