To label the Southeast “exceptional” is neither overstatement nor hyperbole. Among Florida’s eight economic development regions, Southeast’s population and labor pool are the largest, its ocean coastline the longest, its proximity to Latin America the closest and its cruise ports the world’s 1st and 4th busiest. This region’s business advantages are impressive too. With its appealing combination of robust trade, technology, energy and manufacturing sectors, plus a skilled multicultural and multilingual workforce, outstanding educational institutions and an impressive quality of life, choosing to relocate to Southeast is a no-brainer; narrowing that choice to just one of its seven counties may be a little tougher.
Logistics, Transportation and Trade
With five deep-water ports, four international airports and a multimodal network of rail and roads connecting them all, it’s only natural that companies in need of efficient logistics are drawn to Florida’s Southeast. Among familiar names here: Online pet retailer Chewy, with a Florida headquarters in Dania Beach and a 100,000-sq.-ft. customer service center in Hollywood; online home goods retailer Wayfair with a 47,320-sq.-ft. distribution center in Pompano Beach; and Amazon, which opened a 100,000-sq.-ft. delivery center in Sunrise, just in time for the 2018 holiday shopping season, and an 855,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Opa-Locka in June 2019.
Next up for the online mega-retailer in Florida’s Southeast: a 60,000-sq.-ft. distribution center just west of Fort Pierce in St. Lucie County. And coming on strong in Broward County is South Florida startup Shipmonk, providing packing and shipping for e-commerce companies that sell on multiple sites. Founded in 2014, Shipmonk currently employs 200 at its Fort Lauderdale headquarters and plans to create another 400 jobs over the next five years.
PortMiami, the closest U.S. East Coast deep-water container port to the Panama Canal, moved 1.084 million TEUs of containerized cargo in FY2018, breaking its previous cargo record of 1.054 million TEUs set back in 2005. During the same period, PortMiami once again retained its position as the world’s busiest cruise port, welcoming a record-breaking 5.6 million cruise passengers. And while PortMiami set its own single-day record with 52,000 passengers on December 9, 2018, it still fell short of Port Everglades’ previous feat — 55,885 passengers on March 13, 2016. In October 2018, PortMiami celebrated the opening of Royal Caribbean’s Terminal A, home to the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas. And as construction continues on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Terminal B, scheduled to open in February 2020, Virgin Voyages looks to break ground soon on its own terminal and Royal Caribbean plans a new $300 million headquarters.
Just up the coast in Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades remained one of Florida’s top container ports, moving 1.108 million TEUs in FY2018, a 3% increase over 2017. The world’s fourth busiest cruise port and home to 10 cruise lines, Port Everglades served 3.8 million passengers in 2018. Business was also brisk at the Port of Palm Beach, where 292,304 TEUs and 462,533 cruise ship passengers moved through in 2018, and at the Port of Fort Pierce, plans continue for its transformation into a maintenance, refurbishing and overhaul (MRO) facility for mega-yachts.
Airport activity across Southeast Florida is equally impressive. 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 2018, MIA handled 2.3 million total tons of freight. A total of 45 million passengers — 49% of them international — passed through MIA in 2018, and that figure is likely to increase in 2019 with the addition of nonstop passenger service to Casablanca and Warsaw.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International served 36 million passengers in 2018, a 10.6% increase over the previous year, and at 8.6 million, international traffic was up by nearly 20%. Palm Beach International Airport recorded a passenger increase of 3% in 2018 for a total of 6.5 million passengers.
Several companies that provide services to South Florida’s aviation industry are also growing:
• Delta Private Jets, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines, has expanded its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities with a new location at Sheltair Aviation on the grounds of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The new facility includes a 15,000-sq.-ft. hangar and an additional 2,200-sq.-ft. office space.
• German plane manufacturer Bombardier is building a nearly 300,000-sq.-ft. center at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport, where it plans to more than double the size of its Florida-based service workforce.
• Ga.-based Gulfstream Aerospace plans to build a 168,000-sq.-ft. combination MRO-hangar-office facility to replace its smaller center at Palm Beach International Airport; 50 new jobs are anticipated.
KEY PLAYERS: FedEx Latin America, Miami; Norwegian Cruise Line, Miami; Royal Caribbean Cruises, Miami; Ryder Integrated Logistics, Miami; Spirit Airlines, Miramar
Two new 74.5-megawatt solar energy centers are coming to Florida’s Southeast, courtesy of this region’s primary energy supplier, Florida Power & Light.
Currently under construction and expected to begin powering customers in early 2020 are:
• Hibiscus Solar Energy Center on 400 acres in Palm Beach County, and
• Sweetbay Solar Energy Center on 566 acres in Martin County.
The two new facilities join five existing FPL solar energy plants and the Martin Next Generation Clean Energy Center, a hybrid solar and natural gas facility, that FPL has built in recent years across Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Miami-Dade counties.
The new centers currently under construction are part of FPL’s plan to install more than 30 million solar panels around Florida by 2030. FPL’s “30-by-30” plan, announced in January 2019, will ultimately increase the company’s solar capacity from 950 to 11,000 megawatts.
KEY PLAYERS: Florida Power & Light, Juno Beach
Florida has been a source of cutting-edge technology since 1980 when a team of engineers in Boca Raton gave birth to the IBM PC. In the nearly 40 years since, Florida’s tech industry has grown to become third largest in the U.S. and one of the Southeast region’s primary economic drivers.
Among the region’s long-time tech sector success stories are two Broward County-based companies: Citrix and Ultimate Software. Founded in Fort Lauderdale in 1989, Citrix aims to help businesses simplify digital access to apps and data and take better advantage of cloud, collaboration, networking and visualization technologies. Citrix solutions are used by more than 400,000 businesses, including 99% of Fortune 100 firms and 98% of Fortune 500 firms. Weston-based Ultimate Software develops software to manage time, labor, payroll, benefits and other human resources tasks. In 2019, the firm topped Fortune magazine’s “Best Workplaces for Technology” list for the fourth consecutive year.
Newer companies are finding success here too:
Plantation-based Magic Leap brought its first 3D software product to market a year ago. Now, Magic Leap has formed its first academic partnership, joining with the University of Miami to develop what the company calls “Magicverse” — a blend of augmented reality and human-centered artificial intelligence. The partners hope to engage UM faculty and students to create a variety of applications for Magic Leap’s augmented reality devices.
Dublin-based IT infrastructure management company Kaseya has announced plans to grow its U.S. headquarters in Miami by 100 employees over the next 15 months and to launch “Kaseya Tech Hub,” a Miami-based tech incubator and innovation center.
SR Technologies, a division of SRT Group, elected to establish its new headquarters at Sawgrass Technology Park in Sunrise. The firm, which specializes in design, engineering and R&D for wireless communications, expects to create 40 new jobs as a result.
KEY PLAYERS: Citrix, Fort Lauderdale; Cyxtera Technologies, Miami; Ultimate Software, Weston
Manufacturing is one of this region’s strongest high-wage sectors, accounting for 72,000 jobs in the Greater Miami–Fort Lauderdale metro area alone. Products manufactured by companies in Florida’s Southeast include aircraft parts, building supplies and materials, computer components, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
Sintavia LLC, a leading tier-one metal additive manufacturer for the aerospace and defense industry, has opened a new 55,000-sq.-ft. advanced manufacturing facility in Hollywood. The new facility, first of its kind in North America to offer large-scale advanced manufacturing production coupled with a robust aerospace quality management system, will serve as both a manufacturing plant and company headquarters.
Aldora Aluminum & Glass Products has consolidated its Southeast Florida headquarters and manufacturing operations under one roof in more than half of a 200,000-sq.-ft. building in Coral Springs with 35 new jobs created. The company manufactures a variety of glass and mirror products, including shower enclosures, table tops and glass entrances.
Ophthalmic surgical instrument manufacturer Oculus Surgical is developing a $7-million, 55,000-sq.-ft. factory at the Tradition Center for Commerce in Port St. Lucie with plans to grow its workforce from 29 to 79.
Techtronic Industries, maker of many popular tools and appliance brands, is moving its U.S. headquarters to Fort Lauderdale and creating 75 jobs in the process. The Hong Kong-based company that is behind such familiar brands as Ryobi and Milwaukee power tools and Hoover, Oreck and Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners, will occupy the 15th floor of 450 E. Las Olas Blvd. when renovations there are complete.
Miami-based SeaVee Boats has consolidated all five of its facilities around Miami into one — a new 220,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing site in Medley where plans call for boosting its workforce from 220 to 325. Prior to opening this new facility, SeaVee manufactured about 165 custom boats per year. Now, with extra space and additional staff, SeaVee hopes to be building 250 boats per year by 2022.
KEY PLAYERS: Allergan, Dublin, Ireland; HEICO, Hollywood; Hoerbiger Corp., Pompano Beach; Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Conn.
Health care facilities in Florida’s Southeast are top-notch. For the 16th consecutive year, Miami-based Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has been named best hospital nationwide for ophthalmology on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2019–20.” Also cited: University of Miami Hospital and Clinics for ear, nose and throat (No. 9); Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston for gastroenterology and GI surgery (No. 17); and Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute at Baptist Hospital of Miami for orthopedics (No. 46). In addition, three Southeast hospitals were named among the nation’s top 40 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals 2019–20”: Holtz Children’s Hospital at UM-Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami for diabetes and endocrinology; Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital at Memorial in Hollywood for orthopedics; and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami for neurology and neurosurgery, and orthopedics.
Hospitals and clinics throughout the region are opening new facilities, adding beds and improving services. Baptist Health South Florida — the region’s largest health system — is building a 100,000-sq.-ft. wellness and medical center in Plantation that will offer primary and urgent care, diagnostic imaging, medical oncology and physical therapy among other services. Baptist Health already operates similar centers in Weston and Sunrise.
Broward Health, the taxpayer-supported hospital enterprise, expects to complete its large-scale renovation of the Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital in Fort Lauderdale in 2019. The $52-million project is the first major renovation since the hospital opened more than 30 years ago. And at Broward Health Coral Springs, a new four-story patient tower has opened with expanded maternity facilities, a neonatal intensive care unit and surgical suites for key specialties such as general surgery, gynecology, oncology and urology.
The 138-bed Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, a unit of Georgia-based Tenet Healthcare’s St. Mary’s Medical Center, has opened a pediatric medical and surgical facility that features a family lounge, VIP family suites with adjacent living rooms and an Xbox in every room. And Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, part of the South Broward Hospital District Memorial Healthcare System, expanded into Wellington in early 2019 with a 30,000-sq.-ft. children’s health specialty center.
Jupiter Medical Center in Palm Beach County opened its new Mastroianni Family Pediatric Emergency Department in May 2019. The 6,300-sq.-ft. facility features dedicated family waiting and play areas with child-sized furniture and diagnostic equipment designed to foster a sense of calm in children and their families.
Martin Medical Center in Stuart is doubling the size of its emergency department with a $20-million project scheduled for completion in late 2019. Also in the works: an 87,000-sq.-ft., three-story outpatient facility.
Miami Transplant Institute, an affiliation between Jackson Health System and UHealth — University of Miami Health System, has set a new national record for organ transplants, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing. In 2018, MTI performed 681 transplants — the highest number since its founding in 1970.
Eight Southeast Florida high schools were named among the top 100 nationwide in U.S. News & World Report’s “2019 Best High Schools” rankings. In Boca Raton, Florida Atlantic University’s in-house school — A.D. Henderson University School, where students work simultaneously toward a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree — was the only Pre-K–12 school and one of just a dozen schools overall in Florida to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school in 2018.
This region is also home to 16 institutions of higher education, including the University of Miami, named among U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges for Veterans”; Florida International University, snagging the No. 6 position among undergraduate international business programs on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges 2019” list; Nova Southeastern University, welcoming its charter class of 35 doctor of medicine (M.D.) students to the new Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine in fall 2018; Florida Keys Community College, which, after awarding its first bachelor’s degree in 2017, has finally changed its name to The College of the Florida Keys; and two state colleges — Miami Dade and Indian River — selected to share the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
Life & Leisure
Naturally Appealing, Too
Southeast Florida has a reputation for glitz and glam, but natural wonders abound here too. This region is home to three national parks: Biscayne (a watery wonderland within sight of the Miami skyline); Everglades (a lush “river of grass” just a short drive west of the city); and Dry Tortugas (70 miles off the coast of Key West, accessible only by boat or seaplane and well worth the trip). Also to be found in this region: some two dozen state parks for hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping and cycling, plus some pretty spectacular beaches — a few that you may have heard of, like South Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and many you haven’t, like Golden Sands along the Indian River County coastline adjacent to some of this hemisphere’s most significant turtle nesting sites.
Never a Dull Moment
If you can’t find something fun to do in Southeast Florida, you’re not looking very hard. All seven counties are jam packed with amusement and adventure. Spend an afternoon browsing the eclectic galleries and boutiques in Miami’s artsy Wynwood neighborhood. Take an airboat ride in the Everglades. Dip your toes in the surf off Jupiter Island. Shop for designer goods along Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and for outlet bargains at Sawgrass Mills. Come face to face with a giraffe at Zoo Miami, a rhino at Lion Country Safari or 20,000 butterflies at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek. Rent a convertible and drive down U.S. 1 to catch the sunset in Key West. And while you’re there, explore the world’s third largest coral barrier reef system via glass bottom boat or snorkel cruise. Play a round of golf or tennis, then watch the pros compete in your favorite team sport — depending on the season, there’s football, hockey, baseball, basketball, soccer, even polo here to enjoy. Or simply do what the natives do, which is practically nothing except just sit beside the sea with a good book in one hand and a mojito in the other.
Shop ‘Til You Drop ... for Real
America’s largest mall is another step closer to reality in northwest Miami-Dade. The $4-billion American Dream Miami will feature 6 million square feet of retail and entertainment space, including an indoor ski slope, amusement park, hockey rink and 2,000 hotel rooms.