With its unique geography and engaged universities, Florida is an ideal backdrop for 21st century commerce and industry. A wide array of physical and human assets, along with pro-business government officials, facilitate the success of globally minded companies of all sizes. Among the industry segments poised for lucrative, long-term growth:
Aviation and Aerospace
Home to Cape Canaveral and a host of U.S. Air Force bases, Florida now boasts 2,000 aviation and aerospace companies that collectively employ 87,000 workers, including Honeywell Aerospace, JB Aircraft Engine Service Inc., and Aerosonic Corp. In 2005, state officials launched a comprehensive plan to embrace economic opportunities associated with next-generation space travel and Florida’s Aerospace Resource Center addresses the industry's current and future workforce training needs.
Florida provides unmatched natural resources for the development of alternative energies from solar, biomass, and fuel cells to renewable energy support technologies. The state has made the industry a top priority – boasting educational offerings, R&D support and financial incentive programs enticing companies like Mitsubishi Power Systems and Siemens Power Generation to expand their local R&D operations into clean technologies such as wind turbines and renewable energy systems design.
A lengthy number of high-tech companies are partnering with Florida’s university laboratories and applied research centers to design, build, test and produce the technologies of tomorrow – including important innovations in advanced materials, marine-based biotech, and nano-science. In fact, the NanoScience Technology Center at the University of Central Florida is an international leader in this growing field.
Financial and Professional Services
Florida’s multilingual, multicultural workforce has been central to the state’s emergence as an international leader in value-added business services – including banking, insurance, accounting, engineering, legal and consulting. Companies like Digital Risk, Intuit, Inc., Bank of New York and Progressive Auto Insurance have chosen Florida to call home. Statewide this industry employs 126,000 workers and “ships” over $30 billion in annual business service exports to foreign markets.
Homeland Security and Defense Industries
Florida’s diverse economic landscape features world-leading expertise in biotechnology, telecommunications, digital simulation, sensoring systems and other advanced technologies. When combined with the state’s numerous defense installations, these assets make fertile ground for firms engaged in national security, anti-terror and military-related R&D, manufacturing, training and services. SEOS Limited, Indra Systems, JHT, SAIC and the Naval Air Warfare Center are a few of the companies representing this industry in Florida.
From digital media and mobile communications to optics and photonics, over 25,000 information technology companies call Florida home. The state’s leadership in modeling, simulation and training (MST) has created one of the world’s largest clusters with 16,000 well-trained professionals. Educators, government officials and major I/T companies like Laser Photonics, JHT, Jabil, Draper Laboratories and Electronic Arts together have helped sharpen the state’s competitive edge.
Recent years have witnessed Florida’s rapid emergence as a global center for biotechnology, advanced medical devices, pharmaceutical products and health sciences. The arrival of top research facilities such as Scripps and Burnham, along with the state’s exceptional academic medical centers, provides an enviable backdrop for a legion of companies like Halkey Roberts, Crystal Photonics and .decimal.
Some 18,000 companies drive Florida’s manufacturing economy, which employs nearly 371,000 workers statewide. Operations span both traditional industries, like plastics and consumer foods, and technology-rich operations such as electronics, medical devices and transportation equipment. Companies like Norseman Plastics, PepsiCo, Central Florida Box and Correct Craft have taken advantage of the state’s abundance of well-trained employees, competitive business costs and convenient access to raw materials and global buyers.