Why Businesses Choose Florida
Scott Absher, CEO of concert engagement platform provider, ShiftPixy had no plans to move the company’s headquarters from California to Florida, at least not initially. At the time, in 2019, ShiftPixy was struggling to penetrate the thriving East Coast restaurant industry and Absher believed that a hub somewhere on the Atlantic, preferably near Latin America, which was already in the expansion plans, would help. “But as we entered the [Florida] market, we began to see that there would be significant benefits for the company to have its headquarters here.
The favorable business climate has been a plus, as has the favorable personal economy for transitioning high-priced California employees. But there was also something less tangible, but just as compelling: a sense of optimism and excitement that reminded Absher of Silicon Valley of the 1990s. “We were seeing a really vibrant corporate culture here,” says -he. “It was a very exciting place.”
With talent as scarce as it is, CEOs naturally seek out locations where they can be assured of a pool of future employees with the right skills. Academia has traditionally operated independently of business, but some states, such as Florida, have encouraged universities to consider business needs when developing curricula, giving Absher confidence in its strategy for human capital for the future. “There is very innovative thinking at the university level in terms of, what do we need to do to help more people come here to Florida to start businesses and create jobs? ” he says. “I I wouldn’t expect to see this in establishments on the west coast.
This is intentional, says Henry Mack, chancellor of the adult education and careers division of the Florida Department of Education, who notes that the state was already heavily focused on how to meet collective needs in workforce when Covid-19 hit – and hit Florida’s hospitality industry particularly hard. As soon as the CARES law funds became available, the state set aside $ 35 million for the immediate retraining and retraining of workers in affected industries. “We only allowed colleges to request that these funds be used for high-value certification programs,” says Mack, who estimates that around 17,000 affected Covid workers have been trained in short-term certification programs. which has demonstrated “the capacity of institutions to reverse engineer and adapt their curriculum on the fly” to fill employment gaps. He adds that these programs were developed “with the industry to the table ”and said they led to the expanded Get There Florida initiative, a program in partnership with the 28 Florida College System institutions and the state’s 48 technical colleges. It is speeding up student time. ” towards obtaining a high value-added industry certification or post-secondary workforce diploma, and programs include advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, health care and tec information hnologies.
This enthusiasm for working with businesses, not against, won over Michael Martocci, CEO of branded promotional products manufacturer SwagUp. The company still has a 40,000 square foot warehouse at New Jersey, but Martocci is redoubling his efforts to establish a foothold in Miami “and makes it the center of innovation for us.” He was particularly impressed when he saw Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tweeting to different businesses about how the city could better accommodate business and attract more people. “I contacted him right away,” Martocci explains, adding, “I couldn’t even tell you the name of the mayor of the town where we were based in New Jersey.”
Tom Hoverson, CEO of food maker Comarco Products, had a similar experience when he tried to buy a building in Camden, New Jersey, and found himself caught in a bureaucratic nightmare. Instead, he purchased a building in Palatka, Florida with enough space for a 1,200-pallet freezer, eliminating the need for the third-party warehouse they had previously contracted and simplifying production steps. . Since the move last year, Comarco has added 60 employees, nearly doubling its workforce. “One of the pleasant surprises was how welcoming everyone was: the local government, the state government, the county,” says Hoverson. “It’s just a real change from our [previous]- as if day and night were different.
“People forget,” Absher adds, “the money goes where it is best treated. Some states have become hostile to the business community and what you’re going to see is this erosion of some of the secular markets. If you want to anchor your business somewhere, stability is really important.