By Rieva Lesonsky
Are you settling in to face a long winter of shivering, slogging through sleet and shaking snow off your boots? This year, instead of resigning yourself to the miserable weather, why not relocate to a better climate? That’s what I did decades ago when I moved away from New York City—and as I bask in 85° degree temperatures Thanksgiving week or soak up the sun by my pool on New Year’s Day, I’ve never once regretted that decision.
One of the most favorable climates to relocate a business (or start a new business) is Florida, where the average temperature ranges between 60° in the winter and 80° in the summer. The Florida Business climate is equally sunny: Florida consistently rates as one of the top states in terms of business climate, ranking #2 in the most recent Development Counsellors International survey. Here are five reasons Florida is truly the land of opportunity for small businesses.
1. It’s got a plentiful workforce
You may think of Florida as a state full of tourists and retirees. That’s far from reality: It has the third-largest population and the fourth-biggest workforce of any state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With major cities spread evenly throughout the state, there’s a lot of Florida Talent, making it easy to find employees wherever your business is located and whatever your industry.
2. …And they’re educated, too
Partnerships between Florida colleges and universities and in-state businesses help to create a steady pipeline of skilled workers. For example, in Jacksonville, SAFT Batteries, a world-class lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility, has partnered with the University of North Florida’s College of Computing, Engineering and Construction. SAFT representatives work with department chairs to develop the college’s curriculum. The GE Wind Energy plant in Pensacola has a similar partnership with the University of West Florida College of Engineering. These partnerships help schools customize training and education to develop a workforce with the skills that today’s employers need. Florida also boasts a culturally and linguistically diverse labor pool, making this an ideal place to locate an international business.
3. There are lots of financial advantages
Florida has no personal income tax, which means your employees’ wages go further (as do yours) and you can pay competitive salaries without breaking the bank. The state government is committed to keeping Florida friendly to business owners and attracting new businesses, so there are plenty of tax advantages and exemptions for businesses. Depending on your industry or location within the state, you might even be eligible for special tax incentives.
4. It’s a global hub
If your business is involved in shipping or international trade, or if you frequently travel on business, Florida is a perfect location. Whether you need easy access to an international airport or seaport, or want to ship products via the nation’s network of railways and highways, Florida has it all. Last year, more than $142.8 billion in import and export merchandise flowed through Florida’s transportation hubs.
5. Home to diverse industries
The state has long been a center of innovation and technology—NASA’s first manned rocket launch took off from Florida in 1961. Today, Florida Innovation is still going strong, with private space exploration firms like Blue Origin and SpaceX calling Florida home. Tech companies ranging from BRIDG to EA Tiburon have also found success there—not to mention finding skilled tech workers without having to pay the outrageous wages of Silicon Valley.
It’s not all about technology, however: Florida is one of the world’s top five hubs for the telecommunications industry, and agriculture and construction companies are also thriving.
Is Florida for you?
Whether you’re itching to start a new business, or yearning to move your current business somewhere more hospitable, it’s worth giving Florida a closer look. Who knows? You might find your business’s perfect place in the sun.