Business Florida 2021 - The Regions
Broward • Indian River • Martin • Miami-Dade • Monroe • Palm Beach • St. Lucie
As the new year began with ever-flashier cruise terminals and bigger ships on the immediate horizon, both ports were looking forward to a profitable 2020. Then came COVID-19 and all bets were off. The cruise industry worldwide took a particularly hard hit as passengers sickened and cruise lines pushed sailing dates back by weeks, then months. According to both ports, cruising will resume in Southeast Florida, but firm dates have yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, in the Port of Palm Beach, operations have been anything but sluggish. The Port of Palm Beach serves as an essential lifeline to the Bahamas, moving more than $3.3 billion worth of essential goods to the island chain each year. But never was this port more essential to the island chain than in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Between September 2019 and February 2020, the port handled more than $600 million worth of lifesaving cargo earmarked for Grand Bahama Island, the Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands and Nassau, including food, water, hygiene kits, telephone poles, school supplies, roofing materials, construction equipment, fire engines and shipping containers to be converted into homes.
Airport activity across Southeast Florida continued to be impressive in 2019. Among U.S. airports, Miami International ranks first for international freight and third for the number of international passengers served and is the only U.S. airport certified as a pharmaceutical freight hub by the International Air Transport Association. In 2019, MIA handled 2.3 million total tons of freight and 46 million passengers, 49% of them international. A $5-billion upgrade of the airport rolled out in March 2020 is still underway, but not exactly as originally planned. For example, a comprehensive redevelopment of MIA’s Central Terminal has been provisionally paused to await a clearer understanding of how passengers and employees will move through the terminal post-COVID and whether social distancing and contactless checkpoints will still be necessary. In the meantime, domestic airlines continue to fly and international carriers return in small batches as travel restrictions are lifted.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport served 36.7 million passengers in 2019, a 2.2% increase over the previous year, and at 8.8 million, international traffic was up by 2.7%. Palm Beach International Airport recorded a passenger increase of 5.9% in 2019 for a total of 6.9 million passengers. In June 2019, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International embarked on a four-month, $90-million overhaul of its primary runway including electrical, signage and draining system upgrades. The runway was reopened on October 1.
In January 2020, Miramar-based Spirit Airlines broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art headquarters in Dania Beach with plans to move its current staff of 1,000 to the new site, while adding 225 additional jobs. The $250-million, 500,000-sq.-ft. project, located just minutes away from Spirit’s largest operating base at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, is slated for completion in 2022. In addition to corporate offices, the new headquarters will include corporate housing and a crew training facility with flight simulators.
To help commuters, the Florida Department of Transportation has embarked on an $802-million project in downtown Miami to reduce traffic congestion at the Dolphin Expressway/I-95 interchange leading to the MacArthur Causeway and Miami Beach. A signature piece of the project is an arched bridge spanning 1,025 feet over Northeast 2nd Street and Biscayne Boulevard, providing easier access to and from the beach. The area under the bridge will become a 55-acre park to be known as Heritage Trail.
KEY PLAYERS: Amazon, Seattle, Wa.; FedEx Latin America, Miami; Norwegian Cruise Line, Miami; Royal Caribbean International, Miami; Ryder Integrated Logistics, Miami; Spirit Airlines, Miramar