Click to visit Site Selection Online Previous Page Next Page
Click to visit

Bush to Business:
Here's $400 million

Worker's comp reform puts bucks back in company pockets,
Florida governor tells Site Selection.


Latin American gateway hub for FedEx
The Latin American gateway hub for FedEx will be constructed on this site, adjacent to the Miami International Airport. At the end of a 25-year lease, the facility will revert to the airport's ownership.

ov. Jeb Bush has been referred to by one economic developer as "our closer" when it comes to working corporate prospects.
        In an exclusive interview with Site Selection, Bush says the state's competitive position only improved after this year's legislative session, which saw the passage of a comprehensive Workers' Compensation insurance reform package that will reduce insurance rates by 12.5 percent for all Florida employers, with another 4-percent reduction for construction businesses. It provides US$400 million in immediate savings for businesses, with more expected as the reforms take effect.
        Florida welcomes retirees and Canadians from the north. It welcomes Latin Americans and their companies from the south. And increasingly, it welcomes a new generation of corporate growth from every direction.
        Florida continues to be a leader in job creation, as revealed in two recent reports. The Milken Institute's 2003 Best Performing Cities report, which indexes job creation over a five-year period, found that seven Florida metros are in the top 50 in job creation, trailing only California and Texas in that upper echelon. And through May 2003, the state had 14 straight months of positive job growth.
Ron Weaver
Ron Weaver,
Tampa land-use

        Those rankings were further strengthened by evidence from the Tax Foundation, which said that Florida has the 7th-best tax climate in the nation. That's largely due to its complete lack of personal income tax, low corporate taxes and general fiscal soundness.
        That's not all. Tampa land-use attorney Ron Weaver cites several other promising legislative developments, beginning with a measure extending the Capital Investment Tax Credit to financial services companies. Qualifying companies must create 2,000 jobs, spend $30 million on capital investment and pay an average annual salary of $50,000.
        Some sound legislative defeats were big wins for corporate site seekers. A bill regulating Developments of Regional Impact (DRIs) was defeated. Florida has about 800 to 1,000 DRI projects statewide. Likewise, bills calling for more strict growth management and the implementation of statewide impact fees were defeated.
        "Florida also burnished its reputation as a tax-friendly state by passing a 2003-04 budget that reflected growth of 6.3 percent, without a corresponding tax increase," says Gov. Bush. "This achievement is particularly important, and most other states were forced to raise taxes to plug significant budget deficits. It is also a reflection of our commitment to fiscal discipline and absolute refusal to grow state government faster than our existing revenue base can pay for it."

United We Diversify

Bush credits the state's diverse economy and strategic sector targeting for helping Florida to "weather the national economic downturn better than most states." Of course, the traditional strengths of defense, tourism and agriculture have played a part, but so have what Bush calls "value-chain cluster development" efforts in areas like aviation and aerospace, IT, financial services, life sciences and homeland security and defense.
p582a.jpg - 14385 Bytes
MIAMI BOUND: Safire Aircraft Company President and CEO Camilo Salomon (left) and Safire Chairman and Founder Michael Margaritoff celebrate their decision to locate a $40-million production and headquarters facility at Miami-Dade's Opa-Locka Airport.

        Whether you're talking First Coast or South Beach, aviation projects are landing throughout the state.
        In Miami, small aircraft maker Safire Airlines Co. has big plans: building a 500,000-sq.-ft. (46,450-sq.-m.) manufacturing and assembly complex on its 180 acres (73 hectares) of land at Opa-Locka Airport in Dade County, where 1,000 people will be employed. David Drugman, vice president of human resources for Safire, says the site beat out locations in San Antonio, Texas; West Palm Beach (the company's birthplace) and Jacksonville for the projected $40-million investment, mainly because of speed to space.
        "Working with Miami Executive Aviation, which operates a fixed-base operation at Opa Locka, we were able to identify for them an available hangar and 10,000 square feet [929 sq. m.] of office space, ideal for Safire's immediate needs," says Carlos Leonard, senior vice president of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
        The company will occupy an existing space and hangar before embarking on a new 100,000-sq.-ft. (9,290-sq.-m.) facility in 2004. Different components of the "air limo" aircraft will be shipped in ready to assemble from locations as far away as Utah and California. Drugman says the whole idea grew out of NASA's Small Aircraft Transportation Systems research, in order to facilitate use of the nation's smaller, under-used airports. Thus, the development of the company's line of business mirrored aspects of a site selection process.
        "The average business guy travels an average leg of 500 to 600 miles," explains Drugman, "and must go through one of the 29 hubs in the U.S. Then they started to measure door-to-door time."
        After looking at charter and first-class rates and operating costs, the solution, he says, is a smaller plane, without cross-country range but with the same speed, able to seat a handful of passengers.
        "That's pretty much what we're designing right now," he says, "and it can land at 5,000 airports."
        Helping make the decision easy was the presence of empowerment and enterprise zones. Also present are three universities in the region that confer aviation degrees. The location is halfway between the Fort Lauderdale and Miami International airports, and near seven other airports, affording the company access to a pool of skilled and semi-skilled labor.
        Leonard adds that the Council is going to bat for Safire to see if the company qualifies as well for the state's Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund. If approved, Safire will receive up to 100 percent of new general-fund taxes generated by the investment for a period of up to 10 years. Leonard says the program was crucial in convincing Ryder Systems to stay and build its own $40-million headquarters in Miami.
        Overall, according to "Time & Space," a report from Coral Gables-based Codina Group, the Airport-West subsector in Miami-Dade Co. with its 574,000 sq. ft. (53,325 sq. m.) of industrial space under construction, is among the submarkets keeping the whole region's real estate scene stable. Broward County has 1.6 million sq. ft. (148,640 sq. m.) of industrial space under construction, while Miami-Dade as a whole currently has 1 million sq. ft. (92,900 sq. m.) of industrial space under construction and 1.8 million sq. ft. (167,220 sq. m.) slated for future development.
        Leonard says an area of vast improvement for the metro is in expediting permits, long a sticking point. A program has been implemented that involves all stakeholders.
        "By ordinance, the entire process should not take more than 50 days," he says. "A lot of them we get done in a few weeks, depending on how detailed the contstruction process is going to be."
        With around 100 workers today, Safire is taxiing toward full production in 2008. Drugman says the main market is the U.S., but orders have already been placed by customers in Latin America and Europe.
Next Page

©2003 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. SiteNet data is from many sources and not warranted to be accurate or current.