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Still Packing Them In


For Mike and Amy McGowan, Southeast Florida offered what their native Wisconsin did not: A hot job market and a multicultural mix. "We wanted our children to grow up in a diverse environment," says Mike, a systems consultant with Plantation-based shipping giant DHL. Not all ties are broken: Amy works full time from home in Miami as a project manager for a Green Bay, Wis., furniture retailer.

Southeast Florida continues to lead the state in population growth, adding 175,000 since 2004. Broward and Palm Beach counties remain attractive to middle-income professionals following corporate relocations and expansions, especially in the biotech, telecom and business services sectors. Miami-Dade's growth is driven in part by the surging trade sector but also by the steady arrival of Latin and Caribbean immigrants -- both documented and undocumented.

Wages in the Southeast U.S. tend to be lower than the national average, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This, combined with skyrocketing housing costs, could slow in-migration of professionals. Across the region, housing prices have shot up more than 25% in the last year. Foreign immigration may also slow as Congress tightens border security, placing pressure on industries like healthcare, construction and agriculture, which rely on low-wage, unskilled labor.

Key Newcomers

? Toronto-based Farelogix, a software development and solutions provider for the travel and leisure industries, has relocated its corporate offices to Miami, creating up to 50 jobs with an average salary of approximately $80,000.
? Seattle-based NeoRx Corp. is the first company to formally enter a research alliance with Palm Beach County's Scripps Florida. NeoRx and Scripps will collaborate on the development of cancer-fighting chemical compounds.
? Insurance giant AIG's Latin America group has moved its headquarters from New York to Miami, creating about 60 jobs.
? Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has landed in Florida with a 293,000-sq.-ft. store in Sunrise scheduled to open in summer 2007. It will employ about 350.
? Aetna has opened a regional headquarters for its pharmacy mail-service subsidiary, Aetna Rx Home Delivery, in Pompano Beach, creating 800 jobs within three years.


Miami

Miami's unprecedented building boom continues, although escalating labor and materials costs mean some projects are being redrawn or marketed to other developers with deeper pockets. ... More than 70,000 condo units are under construction or in permitting. ... Miami 21, the city's ambitious and ballyhooed plan to rewrite its zoning code, has been delayed. Officials say they expect the plan's first phase to be completed later this spring.


Mike and Amy McGowan -- with Gavin, 2 1/2, and Sophia, 6 months -- settled on Miami because of its cultural diversity and vibrant job market.

Key Newcomers

? Duke University's Dr. Pascal J. Goldschmidt has been tapped to be dean of University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

? Terence Riley, a longtime chief curator at New York's Museum of Modern Art, has signed on as director of the Miami Art Museum in time to oversee a major downtown relocation and expansion.

Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade's population continues to creep up, with continued in-migration from low-wage overseas immigrants. The flow of middle-class job seekers from around the country is tempered by a dwindling supply of buildable land. ... Miami-Dade's elected officials are feeling intense pressure from developers eager to move the Urban Development Boundary westward into the Everglades, opening up new lands for housing -- and, say critics, more sprawl. ... Relations between county Mayor Carlos Alvarez and the county commission have improved to what some political observers describe as détente. Others say it's still downright combative. ... Transportation officials are pushing to extend the region's Tri-Rail transit system 20 miles south into the fast-growing southwest section of the county. There's no price tag yet on the plan. ... Environmental groups have sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claiming the agency improperly issued a permit to fill 500 acres of wetlands at a controversial location near the Everglades where developers have proposed a massive housing project.

Fort Lauderdale

With downtown infill projects gaining wide appeal among residents and policy-makers alike, Fort Lauderdale's urban areas are feeling intense, sometimes contentious, redevelopment pressures. ... Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, a slow-growth proponent, weathered a testy re-election battle against political consultant Dan Lewis to win his sixth term in office. ... County leaders are hoping the waters around Port Everglades will calm after the appointment of veteran county employee Phillip Allen to lead the state's second-busiest container cargo port and one of the top three cruise ports in the world. The seat is a hot one, with three directors in the past five years. ... Germany's IGEL Technology, a manufacturer and marketer of Linux-based and Windows-based terminals and technology, has opened a U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, employing about 18.

Key Newcomers

? Former Genentech President Myrtle Potter of Woodside, Calif., has landed in Fort Lauderdale after purchasing a $12-million home in the exclusive Harbor Beach neigh-borhood.

? B. Michael Adler of Dallas-based WQN Inc. has been named chairman and CEO of VoIP Inc., an internet voice-communications provider.

Broward County

Hurricane concerns are tempering growth as some companies are rethinking expansion and relocation plans. ... The Broward Workshop, an influential coalition of business executives, is pushing for a 1-cent sales tax increase that would fund public transit options. ... With flight delays an issue and gate space scarce, county officials are evaluating plans to expand the runways and add gates at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, one of the nation's fastest growing.

West Palm Beach

Key Newcomers

? Office Depot Chairman and CEO Steve Odland arrives in Southeast Florida from Memphis-based AutoZone at a turbulent time for the company and the industry.

? Attracted by Southeast Florida's growing technology sector, Cleveland-based technology solutions firm Agilysys Inc. has announced the relocation of Chairman and CEO Arthur Rhein and his executive team to Palm Beach County.

Boca Raton

Boca once drew large numbers of professionals from Miami-Dade and Broward counties fleeing crime and traffic. But with few high-density urban areas, sprawl is growing. Residents frequently cite traffic as their top concern. ... Florida Atlantic University hopes to get the green light this year for a proposal that includes a 40,000-seat domed on-campus stadium, housing and retail space.

Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County leads the Southeast region in population growth -- thanks to abundant land for new housing. ... Hispanics are now the largest minority group in Palm Beach County, increasing 45% since 2000. ... With the county commission's decision to back a Jupiter location for the Scripps Research Institute, the institute hopes to focus more on science now rather than site-selection politics. ... Meanwhile, the former proposed Scripps location -- at Mecca Farms -- could still become a target for development.

Key Newcomers

As principal investigator for the Drug Study Institute, Joseph Saponarois building Palm Beach County's reputation in the clinical trials industry.

Monroe County

With strict growth management laws, Monroe County's population growth has been flat and has even declined in some areas. ... State Rep. Ken Sorensen has introduced a bill that would remove the Area of Critical State Concern designation from the Keys, which requires the state to oversee development throughout the county. ... Homebuilding has slowed following an injunction by a federal judge restricting FEMA from issuing flood insurance for new construction and some redevelopment of hurricane-damaged structures because of violations of the Endangered Species Act.

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