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Business Florida 2019 - The Regions

Big and Bold

| 10/24/2018



There’s nothing shy or laid-back about Florida’s Northeast. Positioned along I-95 just south of the Georgia state line, this region’s signature city — Jacksonville — looms large in many ways. At 840 square miles, it is the biggest city by area in the continental U.S. and one of only eight nationwide where city and county governments function as one. Driving growth in this region are three Fortune 500 companies and the national or divisional headquarters of more than 80 other firms, all of which have been attracted to the Northeast for its young and vibrant workforce and a multimodal network of exceptional land-sea-air connections.

Financial services is a particularly strong industry sector here, boasting a list of key players that reads like a who’s who in wealth management. The U.S. financial firms Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity National Financial, FIS (Fidelity National Information Services), Black Knight, Wells Fargo and VyStar Credit Union all have a significant presence in Jacksonville, as do Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank and Sydney-based Macquarie Group, and many are on the grow.

VyStar Credit Union, for example, is making plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from suburban Jacksonville to a 23-story office tower downtown. VyStar is the nation’s 17th largest credit union with nearly 1,400 employees and assets of more than $7.6 billion.

Elsewhere in the metro area, two global professional services firms are launching new facilities. Ernst & Young has opened a client services delivery center to provide technology, business process support and other services to its clients in the banking, insurance and asset management industries with the expectation of adding 450 employees by 2020. Similarly, the international digital delivery firm Genpact has begun providing residential mortgage loans processing, underwriting and closing services for financial institutions from its 37,000-sq.-ft. office at Capital Plaza in suburban Jacksonville with an estimated 200 jobs expected.

And soon to join Jacksonville’s financial services sector: Zikher. The San Francisco-based fintech firm has announced plans to site its East Coast headquarters in Jacksonville and hire 20 employees in 2018.

Logistics and distribution are also among Northeast's most active and lucrative industry sectors — and with good reason. According to the website jaxusa.org, more than 61 million people live within an eight-hour drive of Jacksonville. That kind of proximity to Southeast markets, say county officials, has drawn the attention of heavy hitters needing ready access to customers.

Mega online retailer Amazon, for example, has committed to Florida’s Northeast in a big way with four new facilities to date. Two fulfillment centers opened here in fall 2017, and close on their heels have come a 237,000-sq-ft. sortation center at Westside Industrial Park and, in north Jacksonville, a 63,000-sq.-ft. facility where packages are sorted for last-mile delivery to customers.

UPS is investing $196 million to expand its Northwest Jacksonville distribution center with the addition of 375,753 square feet of shipping space, three loading wings and advanced automation technology with the expectation of processing 80,000 packages per hour. And Jacksonville-based malt beverage distributor Champion Brands has broken ground on a 38,000-sq.-ft. corporate headquarters on the city’s Southside. Burkhardt Distributing, a fixture in St. Johns County since 1989, has opened a 113,000-sq.-ft. headquarters and distribution center.

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