When you ask a room, “What does Florida mean to you?” the answers will usually revolve around beaches, palm trees, weird news stories, or Disney. This is due in large part to what the media focuses on; after all, tourism is the largest economic driver in the state. However, there’s one thing you won’t hear too often unless you’re speaking to the right crowd, and that’s that Florida is quickly becoming the “mecca” for businesses small and large.
As of 2013, Florida boasted the fourth largest population in the country. This, coupled with the influx of tourists all year round, means that most businesses that call Florida their home see a huge amount of attention for their products. Key industries pepper the state:
- Aviation and Aerospace (ex: NASA, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Boeing…just to name a few)
- Life Sciences (ex: GE, Bristol-Myers, Bausch & Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, etc.)
- Defense (ex: Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, etc.)
- Clean Technology (ex: Siemens, GE, and every major University)
- and more!
If there’s one thing that jumps off the page is the sheer size of the names above. Florida doesn’t just attract the industries; it attracts the biggest fish in the pond. Nationally, Florida ranks in the top for almost every industry, a veritable breeding ground for growth. Outside of major worldwide industries, Florida is also home base for major corporations like Office Depot, Publix, and Carnival Cruise Lines.
This is all well and good, but what we’re really here to talk about is small to medium-sized business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, in 2015 Florida had nearly 2.2 million small businesses. In addition, small-business loans rose 38% from 2014 to 2015. This data, plus all of the larger corporations, contributed to make Florida the fourth largest economy in 2014. Add to this the beautiful weather and climate? I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty enticing to me for where I want to move or open my business.
One of the beautiful things about Florida is that it is laid out perfectly for access to major markets. Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville are the four largest hubs in the state, and at most you’re about four hours from any one of them at a time. In other words, no matter where you decide to open shop, you are close to a huge market.
Another thing about all those cities we mentioned?
They are home to domestic and international airports. They are also located on or very close to the water. Oh! We’ve also been developing faster transit between all of the major cities within the state; All Aboard Florida and the SunRail are connecting people across the entire state.
If you ship goods, you won’t have to look very far.
Tourism and population growth do wonders for creating infrastructure, people!
Tax Benefits for Florida Businesses
We briefly touched on it, but one of the biggest, if not the biggest, benefit that Florida has is its tax policy. It’s commonly known that there’s no personal income tax in the state, which is already enticing for anyone who wants to move here for work. However, there are a handful of other tax benefits at play that could help you and your business:
- Community Contribution Tax Credit
- Research and Development Tax Credit
- Sales Tax Exemption for Purchases of Industrial Equipment
- Film Tax Exemption
Let’s translate these, because they are a little stuffy sounding:
- Donate to community organizations – get $$
- Incur expenses for research and development – get $$ (depending on industry)
- Buy manufacturing, processing, or compounding machinery – get $$
- Purchase certain equipment for producing movies, TV shows, advertising, etc. – get $$
No matter what the industry, there are opportunities for every small business to cut some of the day to day expenses via taxes. When you can save money year over year, it can help you grow more quickly, and Florida is a great location to help you do just that.
Florida Four Centers of Industry
You’ve decided that Florida is the state you want to move to, but the next question is where do you want to plant your roots? Apart from deciding what your business is, the most important decision you can make is where it is. Florida is home to four centers of industry. Outside of California and Texas, no state in the United States can claim as many markets as Florida.
We want to help educate you on these four centers, and hope that it aids in making the decision of where to move to.
The Gateway to South America – When it comes to having access to a large consumer base, there’s nothing much larger than an entire region of the world. Miami is nestled in the southern most point of the mainland of Florida, which happens to be the closest city in the United States to the entirety of South America. This, and the infrastructure in the city, allows Miami to be a strategic location for trading between the US and South America/the Caribbean. Even without this connection, Miami is still one of the top destinations in the U.S. for international tourists, and business travelers, effectively putting you in front of an incredibly large pool of potential consumers.
Other benefits to the city include:
- Home to over 70 foreign consulates and trade offices
- Port of Miami is the #1 deep-water port in the nation
- Port of Miami is the cruise capital of the world
- Miami International Airport is #1 in the U.S. for international freight
When it comes to industry, Miami and all of South Florida are quickly becoming one of the largest Technology hubs in the country. Year over year, venture capital deals have skyrocketed, and more and more startups are working their way into the region. Google has purchased companies from the area, most notably Magic Leap, an augmented reality and digital imaging company. The expectation is that, if they are able to continue growing at the speed at which it is, then soon Florida could take over as the Tech Hub of the entire U.S.
Basically, the world is your oyster. Should you decide that Miami is right for your business, you will be in front of as many consumers and interested parties as you could imagine. It’s a breeding ground for startup businesses, and there’s no stopping the growth that has already been seen. It’s just a matter of if you want to be a part of it like we are.
Fastest Growing Employment – Ah, home sweet home. Orlando is not only the city we first started in, but it’s also found to be number 9 out of 10 metropolitan areas for employment growth. What does this mean for you? Employment growth coincides strongly with the emergence of small business. As more people move into the region for work, there are more opportunities for those workers. The old saying of, “It’s hard to find good help” is always going to be true; you want to find the right people who gel with your vision, but when you’ve got one of the largest pools of employment in the country, your chances of finding that person are much better. Orlando is also home to the University of Central Florida, which as of Fall 2015 had the largest student body in the nation. In other words, that’s a huge amount of potentially great minds for you and your business.
We’re going to continue with a theme we’ve already mentioned, but we can’t stress how impactful it is for any sized business, and that’s tourism. Orlando consistently ranks in the top 5 to 10 nationally for “Most Visited City in the U.S.” This is due in large part to a Mouse, but Disney isn’t the only reason people come here. Other attractions, decent location to beaches, a fast growing infrastructure, and an expansive region are some of the major draws for both recreational and business tourism. The SunRail has expanded quickly and now covers the entire region; it connects all of Central Florida within minutes, and means that no matter where you place your business, you won’t be far from the rest.
There are also great programs that call Orlando home, like the SBDC (Small Business Development Center). The SBDC is an organization whose sole purpose is to help grow business. Your business. All sizes of business gather here and discuss tactics together in roundtable discussions with the ultimate aim of growing the business in the region. This, plus all of the vast tools available to startups, makes Orlando a fantastic location to take your business forward. Come join us in our home base.
Cigar City – Of the major roads in the state, Interstate 4 (or I4) is one that connects the east coast to the west coast. It goes right through the heart of Orlando, and ends up in a great city on the west coast called Tampa/St. Pete. No other city in the state has as good of access to the Gulf of Mexico than Tampa. For this reason, it continues to grow at a rate of around 3% a year, a huge figure to hold consistently. When population grows steadily, what else tends to grow? That’s right, business and employment opportunities. In 2012 alone, community banks lent $80 million to startups and small businesses.
Tampa is also home to the University of South Florida, one of the best technology and health universities in the country. They also rank as the fourth largest student body in the state, and in the top 50 nationally. As with the example in Orlando, this is a great opportunity for businesses of any size because you’ve got a great work base ahead of you. Tampa also has an SBDC, which means that you’ll never want for assistance, or have questions without answers. Joining Tampa’s quickly growing base means that you’ll have a place to call home for a long time like we have. Feel free to visit our Tampa location to find out more.
Largest City in Square Miles in the US – The last of our four centers is certainly not the least, as the adage goes. Jacksonville is the northern most of the cities we’ve discussed, and is right alongside the Georgia coastal border. While each of Florida’s centers of industry has their own unique elements, Jacksonville has one that might beat out all of the others.
Real estate in the state of Florida is relatively cheap compared to other major market states, and while it’s true for all of the cities we mentioned, Jacksonville has been found to have the highest affordability rate. If you’re relocating for business, not only will your business cost be lower, but your cost of living will be as well. This is one of the key reasons why Jacksonville has boomed over the last few years, attracting thousands of new businesses and startups. People want to live in Jacksonville, which means they want to work there, and you’ll always have a stable of workers available to you should you need them.
As with Orlando and Tampa, Jacksonville sports a great program for small businesses. The Chamber of Commerce established the Small Business Center to give all business owners the opportunity to pick the minds of others in all industries. You have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips, and by opening your business in Jacksonville, you’ve got access to all manner of transit, both domestic and international.
We’ve already established that Florida is an attractive location for tourists, and potential small business, but what you may not know is that it’s also gaining the attention of investors around the world. The critical reason for this focus is that Florida is everything we’ve already said, it’s a booming economy. Businesses see it, other countries see it, and hopefully you’ve seen it by the end of this.
International companies see Florida for the opportunity, and have helped to make Miami the leading U.S. center for international banking. There’s also an incredibly diverse workforce in the entire state, having a multitude of cultures and countries represented across all industries. This allows for Florida to be globally competitive, and gives it drastic advantages over other large market states. Some of the major players that invest in Florida’s economy are:
- United Kingdom
Each one of these countries have significant clout when it comes to economic power; some are even growing faster than ever before. By gaining the attention of these and others, Florida is able to have a foothold in development and industries like no other state. Germany even has a magazine dedicated to Florida, which tells us how impactful we are across the pond!
At the end of the day, you need to find the best place to set your roots. Some industries have better opportunities than others, and some fit better in different locations, but there’s no denying the power and speed at which Florida’s economy is growing. Every year we see millions of tourists visit our state, spending billions of dollars. That’s just tourism, not counting the local and domestic earnings!
Do you want in on those billions of dollars whilst being only minutes away from beautiful beaches and great entertainment? Florida might just be the perfect fit for your business. Join us, won’t you?