Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

World-Class Professional Services, Small-Town Treatment

For these and countless other companies from startups to multinationals, legal, accounting and banking providers can be found throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale and the broader South Florida region. The market also has a growing network of investors, venture capital funds, even hedge fund managers who have relocated here for the growing business opportunities, as well as the quality of life.

That’s a refreshing discovery and practical realization for those who believed they’d have to seek service providers from beyond the region, notes Teri Kaye, Fort Lauderdale managing partner with accounting firm Daszkal Bolton.

“We have a footprint much larger than the square footage of our office,” says Kaye, who, like many of her coworkers, is a former Big-Six veteran whose firm today provides “the quality and breadth” of services with industry alliances that deliver national scale for clients ranging from startups to global corporations. “We have lower fees than national firms, with more personalized attention from our senior partners. That’s the recipe for tremendous benefit for any client.”

From augmented reality company Magic Leap to the Nova Southeastern University Center for Collaborative Research, science and technology have taken roles at the forefront of the market, in turn drawing more clients and talented legal and accounting providers versed not only in traditional practice areas of real estate, litigation and general corporate, but intellectual property, cybersecurity and even blockchain technology.

“Fort Lauderdale is changing, not by the year or by the month, but by the minute. New ventures like these are drawing talent and entrepreneurship to the Greater Fort Lauderdale area,” says Rebecca F. Bratter, deputy managing partner with law firm Greenspoon Marder. “Fort Lauderdale can now more readily compete for talent and new businesses, and even act as another gateway to the world.”

As part of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale designated market area (DMA), attorneys, accountants and their clients regularly conduct business across county lines and throughout the Americas.

With the arrival of the Brightline high-speed commuter rail service linking downtown Fort Lauderdale with downtown Miami and West Palm Beach, accounting and law firms not only work with clients and partners throughout the region. They’re able to recruit talent from there as well, notes Glenn Goldstein co-managing shareholder of law firm Greenberg Traurigî?s Fort Lauderdale office.

“County lines have blurred. That’s how we all do business and how we all function,” he says. “We’re finding more international work in Broward with the same sophistication. But our people prefer the economic and lifestyle desirability of living and working here.”

For life-long residents like Daszkal Bolton�s Kaye, and Mitch Burnstein, firm managing director of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman in Fort Lauderdale, maturation of professional services available to national clients is a point of pride.

“Back when there was a single high-rise office building in downtown Fort Lauderdale, specialists often would come from Miami or fly in from distant cities,” Burnstein says. “That’s not the case now. As Broward County has boomed, so has the depth and breadth of its legal community.”

Access to Capital Makes Community Thrive

Banking relationships and access to capital are critical to any thriving business community.

Financial providers across Greater Fort Lauderdale meet the capital needs of startups and established companies alike. Along with large commercial banks and lending institutions, Fort Lauderdale is home to a healthy stable of community banks and a growing group of venture capital firms. In fact, the Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, hosted its 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa in January. Eight companies from South Florida attended.

They’re part of a funding network to serve the area’s growth, says Ginger Martin, CEO of American National Bank in Oakland Park.

“The opportunities are amazing for businesses here, regardless of size,” she says. “People may say South Florida is overbanked. But there is enough business in this town to go around for everyone. That’s what I love about being a Broward bank.”

Execs Lured by Tech Jobs, Tropical Lifestyle
Two execs personify how the South Florida technology market — and life in the sunshine — can attract and retain top talent.

Before being named senior director of Magic Leap Studios, Rebecca Barkin spent 15 years in marketing and business strategy from Los Angeles to Silicon Valley. She and her husband found the Bay Area suffocating and were "looking for a quality of life change."

Today, the couple and their two young children live just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean on Fort Lauderdale’s east side. Barkin, 38, commutes minutes to work, versus her former 80-mile round-trip slog in the Bay Area. Husband Seth commutes to his job as an architect in Miami.

“It’s really been a positive shift,” says Barkin, who found pleasant surprises in the arts, culture and culinary scene. “I tell people considering relocating here, explore the area. You can find these great little nuggets.”

Greg Blackman spent 25 years in tech sales, most recently in New Jersey running a market unit for enterprise resource planning software firm SAP. He recently was named vice president of sales for e-Builder, the construction software firm.

Though Blackman's mother lives in Central Florida, he was a newcomer to South Florida. Now, he’s embraced it. He and his wife live in a downtown condominium. During the week, he drives 15 minutes to the office or 10 minutes to Fort Lauderdale-

Hollywood International. On weekends they stroll the beach and Las Olas Boulevard.

“I can afford to live downtown at an affordable price,” he says, “and be in the middle of it all.”