by Jeff Zbar
Updated 5 yearss ago
Port Everglades [Photo: Len Kaufman courtesy of Port Everglades]
To many, Miami-Dade County is the "gateway to Latin America." To Marty Kurtz, a CPA with Kaufman Rossin & Co., Broward County lies in the center of a greater international community. Area colleges and universities serve the large, diverse and multilingual workforce — especially those looking to enhance their careers.
Proximity to three airports and three seaports helps bolster an international image gaining prominence in the Americas and Europe, says Kurtz, a volunteer with the Alliance's International Action Team.
When area port leaders talk about accomplishments and plans, "grand" doesn't quite do them justice. Last year, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines welcomed the world's two largest cruise ships to Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades — the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas — as well as the world's largest cruise passenger terminal to serve each ship's 5,400 guests
In December 2010, when expansion was discussed for the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), the plan included a $791-million runway that would be raised over both U.S. 1 and the Florida East Coast Railway.
"From the start, that whole emphasis [of the port's creation] has been expanding an economic engine that drives this area."— Phil Allen, Port Everglades Director
[Photo: Port Everglades]
That the two ports are business and economic drivers is an understatement, says seaport Director Phil Allen. In fact, Port Everglades — carved from the mangroves in 1927 to berth ships to be loaded with tomatoes bound for New York — was led by the first president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.
"From the start, that whole emphasis has been expanding an economic engine that drives this area," Allen says. Port Everglades receives cargo, the area's petroleum and 3.3 million cruise passengers on 40 ships that made 1,500 sailings in 2010. In fact, Carnival Corp. just signed a 15-year agreement destined to serve 25 million guests and produce $500 million in port revenues. Cargo operations alone account for 5,600 local jobs and 133,000 statewide.
"It's that kind of business diversity which protects us when we have a downturn in any one side of the business," says Allen, whose port by 2014 is planning five new berths and a dredging effort to accommodate larger Asian ships coming through the widened Panama Canal. The port also is growing its container business.
For its part, the airport seems in perpetual motion. Along with its 21.4 million passengers per year, it handles some 175,000 tons of air cargo. It contributes more than $2.6 billion to the local economy annually and is the county's largest employer with 16,000 employees — and another 28,000 jobs through various services.
The airport has a growing number of international non-stop flights — including throughout the Caribbean. With low-cost carriers like Southwest and Spirit itself based just south in Miramar — average fares are 20% lower than other airports, says aviation director Kent George. JetBlue CEO Dave Barger, whose airline flies 12 non-stops to JFK, says, "If you look at what [FLL] does, it provides our connection to the world, for leisure and business, all in a convenient and low-cost approach."
|LATIN AMERICAN HEADQUARTERS IN GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE|
|DHL Express USA
||Internet / Telecom Services|
|Chubb Group Insurance
||Medical / Pharmaceutical Equipment|
||Elevator, Electrical / Mechanical|
|Amcor Pet Packaging
||Motor Vehicle Parts|
|Western Union Latin America||Financial Services|
|Source: Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance|
With the Broward County Convention Center adjacent to Port Everglades and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport less than two miles away, the ports fuel each other and the area's economic engine. From each, trucks and visitors can hop on Interstate 595 — whose opening in 1991 sparked aggressive expansion of the county's western suburbs — to reach I-95, Florida's Turnpike, the Sawgrass Expressway, I-75 and beyond. "There are two traffic lights between Port Everglades and California," Allen says.
The proposed $791-million runway at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will stretch some 8,000 feet and rise six stories — with both U.S. 1 and the Florida East Coast Railway passing underneath. [Photo: Broward County Aviation Department]