FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Fort Lauderdale and Broward County

Quick link:
Who Lives Here (see below)
Economic Life
Quality of Life

Why I Live Here

Who Lives Here?

> The Count

» Broward County: 1.77 million residents

» Fort Lauderdale: 180,400

Mayor Jim Naugle left office in March as the city’s longest-serving mayor (and new term limits will assure no one beats his record.) The outspoken Naugle — a Democrat and proudly not politically correct — angered gays but was popular, winning every election since his first mayoral win in 1991 by whopping margins. His decades of leadership — counting all offices he served in — saw the rebirth of the city’s famous beach and the advent of downtown high-rise living, among other changes. Former Wilton Manors mayor and former state Rep. Jack Seiler is the new mayor.

Las Olas Boulevard
» Pembroke Pines: 151,747

Broward’s second-largest city and Florida’s 11th, Pembroke Pines saw explosive growth in the 1990s thanks to I-75 and Hurricane Andrew, giving Miami-Dade residents, respectively, a faster commute and mobility. In 1998, Pembroke Pines founded what’s now the largest city-run charter school system in the nation with a high school, two middle schools and four elementaries totaling 5,400 kids.

» Hollywood: 143,172

The city is an older suburb with an interesting history, tough politics and a classy layout that features huge traffic circles. It has all the tools for future success, notably a beach conducive to strolling, an engaged citizenry, the 998-room Westin Diplomat hotel, proximity to Miami and I-95. A recent source of anxiety: Low-rent motels along Federal Highway frequented by hookers and drug dealers.

» Coral Springs: 128,930

The rest of the suburbs have closed in on the “city in the country.” If not for the welcome signs, you wouldn’t know when you arrived in the city that leaped ahead of the Broward westward development wave. Coral Springs prides itself on its administration — the first local government to win a Baldridge award — and volunteerism. It’s the place where people locate for schools and the quiet bedroom community life, hopping on the Sawgrass Expressway or driving east to Florida’s Turnpike and I-95 to get to work. Two major employers — electronic commerce processor First Data and entertainment products distributor Alliance Entertainment — have laid off hundreds. Money magazine named the city a best place to live (No. 78 of 100) in 2008.

» Miramar: 112,666

See Pembroke Pines for Miramar’s growth story. Abutting Miami-Dade County, Miramar saw a $20-million cultural center and art park open in December, bringing opera, theater and ballet to the ‘burbs. Money magazine named it a best place to live (No. 98 of 100) in 2008.

» Pompano Beach: 100,058

How many towns can claim a Goodyear blimp hangar? The Brazilian markets on the main streets testify to Pompano’s diversity. It also has a sizable Haitian population.

» Davie: 92,207

Davie well could be the last Broward community with a stand-up fight over the disappearance of an agricultural flavor. Its “Western” roots — it has a rodeo grounds — are clashing with development. Overwhelmingly white, it’s home to Nova Southeastern University (already the largest independent university in the Southeast and sixth nationally), which has ambitious plans for growth, a Florida Atlantic University campus and a Broward College campus among other higher-ed outposts.

Sawgrass Mills
Sawgrass Mills

» Sunrise: 90,081

If suburbs took steroids, they would look like Sunrise, which wants to be Broward’s second urban hub after Fort Lauderdale. Already, Sunrise is home to the BankAtlantic Center, where the NHL Florida Panthers play, and Sawgrass Mills, the mammoth shopping center. It landed the first Ikea in Florida and has a number of midsized corporations. Interestingly, it’s the first west Broward community to go vertical, with several 18- to 26-story condo and apartment towers under construction and planned. Sunrise’s grand plans cause trepidation in neighboring Plantation. Huffed one Sunrise commissioner to her counterparts in Plantation, “For you to criticize our vision, at least we have one.”

» Plantation: 85,688

Though home to major, albeit struggling corporations such as Motorola and DHL, Plantation is as much bedroom community as anything. That’s why it’s battling neighboring Sunrise, whose growth plans it fears. The big project in Plantation, meanwhile, is the remaking of the shuttered Fashion Mall as 321 North, a more than 1-million-sq.-ft. mix of retail and office space with up to 590 apartments or condos. The developer is U.S. Capital Holdings Group, part of industrial power China Metallurgical Group Corp.

» Lauderhill: 64,635

Once, Jackie Gleason and the Inverrary Country Club were synonymous with Lauderhill, whose population was defined by Jewish retirees and snowbirds. Since the 1990s, a demographic shift has evolved: Today, six of 10 residents are black — about half immigrants from Jamaica, Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

» Weston: 62,088

The city Arvida built is growing up, ditching the Arvida Parkway name for its main roadway a couple of years ago in favor of Glades Parkway and Royal Palm Boulevard. Though its creators likely didn’t envision it one day as a haven for upscale South American immigrants or home to the nation’s largest high school, it otherwise turned out just as its planners envisioned — the suburban dream, home to lots of youth sports and well-kept common areas. It was No. 73 on Money magazine’s best places to live in 2008.

Next page: The Big Picture, a demographic overview of Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County

> The Big Picture

Broward, the state’s second-most populous county, is a densely populated (1,460 people per square mile) collection of urban and suburban towns — Fort Lauderdale, the county’s largest city, has fewer than 200,000 people, but the county’s residents account for more than 9% of Florida’s total population.

Broward County roughly matches the state average in household size (2.5) and median age (37.8 in Broward vs. 38.7 statewide).

> Ethnicity

  • White, non-Hispanic: 48%
  • Black: 24%
  • Hispanic: 23%

Some 25% of the people living in Broward County are foreign-born, compared to an average of about 17% statewide. About a third speak a language other than English at home — more than half of those speak Spanish. In contrast to Miami-Dade County, as many Hispanic residents come from other Latin countries as come from Cuba. Similarly, a good portion of the county’s black population is not African-American, but rather Caribbean. The most common places of birth for foreign-born residents are Jamaica (15% of the total foreign-born), Haiti (12%), Cuba (8%) and Colombia (8%).

With a median age of 47, white residents of Broward County tend to be significantly older than either black residents (30) or Hispanics (33).

Among U.S.-born residents, most are from Florida and the northeast. Between 2005-06, the top counties from which taxpayers relocated to Broward were Miami-Dade; Palm Beach; Queens County, N.Y.; and Orange County. The three Florida counties were among the top destination counties for taxpayers leaving Broward during the same period.

> Religion

A slightly lower percentage of Broward County’s population considers itself religious than in the rest of the U.S. A much lower percentage of the population belongs to mainstream Protestant denominations. About 21% of the county’s population is Catholic — about the same as the national average. The percentage of the county’s population that is Jewish, about 13%, far outstrips the national average of about 2%.

> Democrats Rule

The county is a bastion of support for the Democratic Party, dating back to the 1960s and 1970s, when large numbers of retired blue-collar workers and small-business owners — many New Yorkers — retired to the area. For many, condo associations replaced union halls as centers of political activity, and the “condo commandos” took on a place in the state’s political lore. Younger condo residents tend to be less politically active and more likely to vote Republican, but in 2008, old patterns persisted: 67% of Broward voters cast ballots for Barack Obama, with only 32% voting for John McCain.

Next page: The Economic Life in Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County

FAU research facility
Florida Atlantic University is one of several higher ed options in Broward.

Economic Life

> Top Shelf

Try to identify the county in Florida with the strongest, most diverse economy, and Broward would stake out a convincing position at the front of the line:

» The county boasts a thriving small-business community — some 90% of its businesses employ fewer than 25. But it’s also home to major economic engines that drive trade across a wide spectrum: Tourism, international commerce, manufactured goods, marine-related industry, education, entertainment, life sciences. Some of the state’s heaviest-hitting firms make their headquarters in Broward, ranging from AutoNation and BrandsMart to software giant Citrix Systems to Spirit Airlines to real estate developer Stiles Corp.

» The county’s business base is diverse — about 16% of businesses are Hispanic-owned, and 12% of the companies in Broward are black-owned, compared to only 6.6% statewide.

» In addition, Fort Lauderdale tied West Palm Beach for first place in the country for growth in women-owned businesses between 1997 and 2006.

» The workforce, also diverse, is better educated than the state overall, with more than a quarter of workers over 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

> Looking for Synergy

If there’s a weakness in Broward’s economy, it’s that its business assets are spread among a host of similar-sized suburban cities, with no true center around which to coalesce and build a strong identity. Regional cooperation and branding has suffered as a result. In addition, the county’s leading business executives have looked after their own interests well but haven’t consistently come together in a critical mass to support the county’s economic development efforts. That appears to be changing, however, since Ray Ferrero, president of Nova Southeastern University, took over as chairman of the Broward Alliance, the county’s economic development agency. With Ferrero’s leadership, the alliance formed a CEO Council and raised nearly $1 million from top executives to back a campaign seeking corporate relocations and additional private investment.

> Economic Engines

» Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: 67,000 passengers daily; 16,000 employees, 28,000 ancillary jobs.

» Port Everglades: 1,900 cruises annually; 26 million tons of cargo; $117 million in annual operating revenue.

» Marine-related businesses: More than 1,400 megayacht visits each year; home to world’s largest boat show; 134,000 jobs.

» Global companies/international trade: Companies with facilities in Broward include GM, Embraer Aircraft, Harp International, Ituran USA, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Siemens, Skanska USA Building.

» Tourism: More than 10.5 million visitors a year, including 2.2 million international visitors.

» Manufacturing: 1,200 companies, including makers of cell phones, medical devices, clothing, airplane parts, yachts, jewelry, software, concrete, pharmaceuticals and vitamins.

» Universities: Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern, University of Florida/IFAS, Broward College, Barry University and numerous for-profit schools, including Keiser, DeVry and Kaplan University.

» Healthcare: 20 acute-care hospitals and one of the largest public health systems in the country, Broward Health. > Heavy Hitters

» AutoNation, Fort Lauderdale, car and truck sales.

» JM Family Enterprises, Deerfield Beach, auto distributor, dealer.

» Spherion Corp., Fort Lauderdale, employment services.

» Citrix Systems, Fort Lauderdale, network software.

» Seacor Holdings, Fort Lauderdale, marine services.

» Elizabeth Arden, Miramar, cosmetics.

» Interbond Corp. of America/BrandsMart U.S.A., Fort Lauderdale, retail appliances and electronics.

» Kaplan Higher Education, education.

» BFC Financial, Fort Lauderdale, holding company for BankAtlantic Bancorp.

» Pediatrix Medical Group (recently renamed Mednax), Sunrise, physician group practice.

> Notable

» The county’s median household income in 2007, $52,670, was greater than the state average of $47,804, and poverty rates are slightly below the state average. Home values are significantly above the state average, and so is the cost of living.

» Broward is home to more than 4,600 arts-related businesses that employ more than 20,000, according to the Americans for the Arts 2008 Creative Industries Report. There was a 12% increase in arts-related business between 2007 and 2008 and a 10% increase in arts-related employees.

> Recent expansions/ relocations

» Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry devices.

» Foxconn International, designs next-generation cellular technologies.

» General Dynamics C4 Systems, designs next-generation communications systems for the military.

» bioRasi, the biotech and research arm of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Next page: The Quality of Life in Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County

Ft. Lauderdale beach
The area attracts more than 10.5 million visitors a year.

Quality of Life

> Financial

The county’s general obligation bonds receive a “AA” rating from Standard & Poor’s, and its portfolio is the highest S&P-rated portfolio in the state. The county’s port and airport, critical to economic development and also to the county’s finances, are well managed.

> Biggest Strengths

Climate, youth, movement toward downtown living, a well-seasoned cadre of business leaders such as Wayne Huizenga, Terry Stiles and the Millers (of Miller Construction), who know how to get worthwhile things done in the community.

> Biggest Needs

Because the county hasn’t developed in any way that mass transit will be of much help, road infrastructure remains critical.

> Property Taxes

On property with a $200,000 taxable value, combined property taxes, municipal taxes and fees for communities in Broward ranged in 2008 from $522 in Hillsboro Beach to $1,619 in Fort Lauderdale to $2,254 in Margate.

> Crime

Broward County has less crime than the state average and less than any large-population county in Florida, based on the FDLE’s crime rate-per-100,000 index. Miami-Dade, Duval, Hillsborough, Orange, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties all have higher crime rates.

> Amenities

Fort Lauderdale’s famous beachfront has been recently renovated and landscaped. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world’s largest, celebrates its 50th year in 2009. It occurs at six locations around the city. The Riverwalk arts, entertainment, dining and shopping center is in downtown Fort Lauderdale along the New River. Nearby is the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, one of the state’s leading venues and a leader in integrating cultural offerings with county school curriculums. In Sunrise, the Sawgrass Mills mall, at 2.1 million square feet of retail space, is the second-largest mall in Florida and one of the state’s leading tourist destinations. Also in Sunrise is the BankAtlantic Center, home arena for the Florida Panthers NHL team. The county’s park system includes 18 regional parks, four nature centers and 21 natural area sites encompassing more than 6,500 acres. > On the Road

The county’s average drive time to work is among the highest in the state.

> Cost of Living

Through 2007, Broward is among the counties with the highest percentage of homeowners spending 50% of their incomes on housing. According to RealtyTrac, in August 2008, 1 in 416 U.S. households received foreclosure filings as compared to 1 in 194 households in Florida, and 1 in 112 households in Broward County.

Pembroke Pines Charter High School
Pembroke Pines has the largest city-run charter school system in the nation. Above, Pembroke Pines Charter High School.

> Schools

In 2007-08, two-thirds of Broward County students met high standards in reading, 75% in math. The district received an

“A” grade from the Florida Department of Education in 2007-08. Both Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report rank at least five Broward high schools among the best in the nation. One high school got an “F” grade from the Florida DOE. More than

70 Broward schools earned the Florida DOE’s Five Star School Award, its most prestigious honor for family and community involvement. The Charter School of Excellence, a K-5 public charter school in downtown Fort Lauderdale, was among the 21-highest ranked charter schools of the 144 schools in the National Charter School Consortium and the only elementary school in the nation to receive the Gold-EPIC award. The school is one of the top 10 performing public schools in Florida and was recently named a National Blue Ribbon school by the Department of Education.

> Notable

» The rate of births to unwed teen mothers is 7.2% of the overall total, below the state average of 9.4%.

» A 2007 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for the Advancement of Health found Fort Lauderdale among top places for Hispanic children to grow up based on housing, neighborhood conditions, residential integration, education and health.

» Fort Lauderdale is among the areas with the largest concentrations of gays and lesbians over 64.

» The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area is one of the top local markets nationally in terms of broadband penetration.

» Broward County has about 200 miles of bike paths. A 30-mile “greenway’’ system of bike paths and nature trails is under way.

» Fort Lauderdale is a popular destination for gay tourists. The city is the headquarters of the Gay & Lesbian Travel Association and will host the group’s international convention again in 2011.

> Air Quality

Motor vehicle emissions are the main source of air pollution in the county. Air quality falls in the “good” range more than 85% of the year.

Next page: "Why I Live Here," an interview with Tom Angelo.

Why I Live Here: Tom Angelo

As someone who grew up in New York City, I always wanted to find a place to live that had the vibrancy and culture of New York without the hassles of a long commute and a four-hour drive during the summer to the Hamptons. I have found all of that and more in Fort Lauderdale. My commute to work down Las Olas Boulevard is just five minutes (10, if I stop by Gran Forno bakery for an espresso). We also have world-class shopping and restaurants like Cafe Martorano and Casa D’Angelo. Fort Lauderdale also has great cultural opportunities such as the Museum of Discovery and Science which offer exhibits that would rival other major cities.

Tom Angelo
Tom Angelo
Fort Lauderdale has a business-friendly environment which has attracted and retains some thriving businesses such as AutoNation, City Furniture and Cundy Insurance. We have an incoming Mayor, Jack Seiler, who I believe will make Fort Lauderdale an even better place to do business than it is today.

And while Fort Lauderdale is a thriving urban area, it also boasts some of the best parks and open spaces that allow my children to enjoy sports year round. We even have great educational institutions, such as Pine Crest preparatory school, which has been in existence since the 1930s.

Another positive about living in Fort Lauderdale is our airport, which is just 10 minutes from home and allows us to fly anywhere around the world. And when I do leave on a trip, whether for business or vacation, I always look forward to coming home.

Tom Angelo is founder and managing partner of Angelo & Banta, P.A.

Jody Moore

Growing up as a Navy brat and having lived in a number of coastal port cities including New Orleans, Charleston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Puerto Rico I have, I believe, a unique perspective and comparative of why as an adult I chose Fort Lauderdale/Broward County to be my home. Also, since I don't have family here and no real roots elsewhere I could have chosen any place in the U.S. to live, but my choice was Fort Lauderdale. I travel fairly frequently and enjoy visiting and vacationing elsewhere, but there has never been a place I have visited since moving to Fort Lauderdale where I felt the need or the desire to live other than Fort Lauderdale. For me Broward County offers so much in the way of outdoor activities because of it's year-round clement weather as well as access to world-class boating, fishing, diving and hunting activities both in Broward and to such places as the Keys, Bahamas and the Everglades given Broward's close proximity.

I find the business community in Broward to be vibrant and active if not unique and diverse. My business is in staffing industry and the placement of accounting and IT professionals both on a permanent as well as a consulting basis so my job is to be aware of businesses both emerging and established and networked with the leaders of those companies.

I have lived in Broward County for 25 years now, and my wife and I have four children in the school. I belong to a number of clubs, organizations and boards oriented toward business, leisure and the community, including the Broward Workshop.

Jody Moore is a partnter at MSI Consulting

Carl Schuster

In December 1939, my family and I became residents of Broward County. It was a sparsely populated county at that time, but I was only 2 years old so I was too young to really appreciate how wonderful it was as a place to live. I attended public school here and even lived here as I attended college and law school at the University of Miami. I have practiced law in Broward County for over 46 years.

I have not left Broward County to live elsewhere other than a short stint in the Army. It is still my home and that of my wife and two of my children. We moved here because it was a place for my father to earn a living and for us to exit the cold winters in Cincinnati. Little did we realize at the time that World War II would cause south Florida to be inhabited by a large crowd of U.S. armed services personnel who would come to the same conclusion we came to in a very short time here. The conclusion was that Broward County truly is "heaven on earth."

The result was many of those personnel decided to move here after the war and Broward County began to grow. Broward County has everything any resident could possibly want: Great diversity in population, fantastic weather, world-famous beaches, sports, music, art, stage plays, shopping, restaurants, casinos, hotels and much, much more. I have traveled to hundreds of other places, some of which were nice places to visit, but none were places I would want to call "home".

Carl Schuster is managing director at Ruden McClosky

Jan Douglas Atlas

I moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1976 from Manhattan. I enjoyed the practice of law and the sophistication of Manhattan immensely, however, I wanted to create a better lifestyle for myself and my children. They were infants at the time, and I was working a lot and not getting to spend enough time with them. I moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1976 to get a fresh start and spend more time with my family. When I moved here, it felt like a small town. I feel like I have grown up with the city.

Jan Douglas Atlas is partner-in-charge at Adorno & Yoss