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Southeast Florida Economic Indicators

Construction remains stagnant, but the region is getting a boost from manufacturing, bioscience and higher ed.

Palm Beach and Broward County

Broward County

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Several big transportation projects are under way in Broward, including a $791-million runway expansion at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. [Photo: Bill Cobb/SuperStock]

What's Hot

» Infrastructure projects: There are numerous transportation-related projects in the works: Toll and bus express lanes on I-595 and I-95, a $73-million Florida East Coast Railway line and Intermodal Container Transfer Facility at Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport's $791-million south runway expansion.

» Higher ed: Broward College will award its third group of bachelor's degrees this year, after awarding its first in late 2010. Florida Atlantic University continues to expand in Fort Lauderdale. And Nova Southeastern University, already the seventh-largest non-profit private university in the U.S., is working to expand its undergraduate population and build more campus housing and related student centers. It recently opened a high-tech nursing simulation lab and this year will open America's largest coral reef research center, a $30-million project.

» Medical device manufacturing: The sector is showing signs of approaching small-scale critical mass in the county. For instance, last year, Fort Lauderdale-based diabetes testing kit maker Nipro Diagnostics (a division of Japan's Nipro Corp.) purchased two buildings, gearing up to further expand its high-tech manufacturing operations. Miramar Park of Commerce brought in several new biotech and healthcare tenants, including 17,000 square feet of office and lab space for Miami-based Opko Health.

What's Not

» Real estate: Construction of office buildings, condos and homes is at a virtual standstill.

Businesses to Watch

» Saveology: The direct-to-consumer internet marketing company plans to add 700 local employees in the next three years as it expands its headquarters and customer service operations.

» BankAtlantic: Its deal to sell assets to BB&T was killed by a Delaware
judge at the behest of debt holders.

» Sawgrass Mills Mall: By the end of this year, the nation's largest outlet mall and one of the state's top tourist destinations will add 40,000 square feet and convert the former Wannado City amusement center space into 140,000 square feet of additional retail space.

People to Watch

» James Billie: The Seminole tribe chief, recovering from a stroke, was re-elected to the post eight years after he was forced out. He will have plenty to say on expanded gambling as he works to protect the tribe's five Florida casinos ?— including the newly expanded Seminole Casino Coconut Creek — from competition.

» Steven Cernak: The new Port Everglades CEO steps in to oversee a
port in expansion mode, hoping to top 2011's record cruise traffic and record high cruise and cargo revenue of $139.2 million.

» Scott Rothstein: The convicted Ponzi schemer is likely to keep talking in court about who knew and participated in racketeering, conspiracy and fraud with him, as civil and criminal lawsuits continue.

» Ellyn Bogdanoff: The state senator, sponsor of the original Senate bill to authorize destination casinos, will continue to be a voice for both expanding and regulating the industry.

Issues to Watch

» Hospital districts: Proposals by a state commission could mean major changes for the county's two taxpayer-funded hospital districts, Memorial Healthcare System and Broward Health, the county's largest healthcare systems. If adopted, the changes could require that the districts be re-approved every eight or 12 years and that they be separated from the taxing authorities that fund them.

Broward Population: 1,806,110
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.18%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.07% 6.52% 25.75% 35.17% 14.48%
Per Capita Income: $45,540

MSA Dec. 2011 Dec. 2010 % Change Jobless Rate
Fort Lauderdale/Pompano/
Deerfield Beach
894,687 885,009 +1.1% 8.6%
West Palm/Boca Raton/Boynton Beach 558,880 550,913 +1.4% 9.7%
Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation

Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales
MSA 2011 Sales 1-Year Change 2011 Price 1-Year Change
Fort Lauderdale 12,817 +11% $186,000 +4%
West Palm Beach/Boca Raton 11,900 +24% $193,700 -15%
Source: Florida Realtors; year-end sales, median price

Broward County Consumer Bankruptcies
2010 2011 Change
11,511 10,115 -12.1%
Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center

West Palm Beach/Palm Beach County

Oxbridge Academy
Oxbridge Academy, which was started by billionaire Bill Koch, opened last year. [Photo: Damon Higgins/Palm Beach Post]

Max Planck Institute
Max Plank Florida Institute will move into a new facility in Jupiter later this year. [Photo: Max Planck Institute]
What's Hot

» Manufacturing: The sector — high-tech manufacturing specifically — is on a surprising rebound. The county added some 500 jobs in that sector during 2011, including expansions at retailer Native Outfitters and testing device firm Clarity Diagnostics.

» Bioscience: The industry continues to grow slowly and will get a shot in the arm toward the end of the year, when the Max Planck Florida Institute moves into its 100,000-sq.-ft. facility in Jupiter.

What's Not

» Golf: Standalone golf courses have seen less tourist and local traffic, and country clubs are suffering from declining membership as younger potential members lack the disposable income for memberships. Golf course-based communities are facing budget challenges as foreclosures and declining retirement funds leave vacant residences and unpaid membership dues. Several country clubs have already filed for bankruptcy.

Businesses to Watch

» GL Homes: The developer is pushing forward with sales, construction and land acquisition and has drawn solid crowds at open houses for luxury and active-adult communities in Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach (where it took over part of the Equus development and is also developing Canyon Trails) and Delray Beach.

» Duffy's Sports Grill: After an expansion tear last year that saw Duffy's sign leases on failed restaurant locations in several prime spots, the 24-restaurant south Florida chain is focused on its sports-related marketing, including locations in the Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers stadiums.

» America's Natural Caffeine: The firm is spending $25 million to move from Brazil into a 40,000-sq.-ft. facility at the Port of Palm Beach, where it will use advanced manufacturing to squeeze America's favorite stimulant from imported coffee, tea leaves and guarana.

» Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches: The high school, launched by billionaire Bill Koch last year, has surpassed enrollment expectations. Local leaders hope the success of the school will allay executives' fears about local school options and help bring more businesses to the area.

» Digital Domain: Florida State University and digital effects and animation company Digital Domain will officially launch the Digital Domain Institute film animation school in West Palm Beach this fall.

People to Watch

» The Rooney family: The owners of the Palm Beach Kennel Club, including state Rep. Patrick Rooney Jr., the racing venue's president, are campaigning for slot machines at what is the county's only pari-mutuel facility.

E. Wayne Gent
E. Wayne Gent is Palm Beach County's new school superintendent.
» Scripps Florida leader: Harry Orf, the scientist who built Scripps Florida and has headed its operations since 2004, left the institute in February; his replacement, not yet named, has big shoes to fill as leader of the county's largest biomedical institution.

» John Duffy: The CEO of cloud-based CRM software company 3Cinteractive is gaining national visibility as an advocate for and mentor to entrepreneurs throughout the state.

» E. Wayne Gent: Palm Beach County's new school superintendent will be under scrutiny after a long search to replace Art Johnson after the board of the country's 11th-largest school district removed him in early 2011.

Issues to Watch

» Government officials: The county is still pulling itself out from under political corruption scandals of the past few years. A new group of office holders, new ethics and lobbying rules and an Inspector General's office with fairly broad oversight powers have begun to restore trust in county government. But lobbyists and the businesses that hire them are still sorting out all the new rules, which some have said are too vague.

Palm Beach Population: 1,378,072
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.57%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
16.58% 5.90% 22.90% 32.71% 21.90%
Per Capita Income: $59,096

Palm Beach County Consumer Bankruptcies
2010 2011 Change
5,933 5,482 -7.6%
Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center


Boca Raton

Issues to Watch

» Research growth: As Florida Atlantic University's College of Medicine ramps up, local officials expect even more activity from the Research Park at FAU, which already hosts some 22 technology and research and development companies — several of which helped design FAU's medical curriculum. Its Soft Landings Center will help international companies entering the U.S.