The Leader Magazine

SEP-OCT 2015

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regulations that were troublesome and bureaucratic. "We le ad t he nat ion i n investment in our infrastructure, especially roads and seaports. Crime is at a 45-year low. Some states have pension fund debts; our pension system is one of the best-managed in the country." As for where Florida is headed in terms of employment, GDP g row t h, new i ndust r ies a nd corporate relocations, Johnson foresees the greatest expansion in research and design, information technology and the life sciences. The state continues to attract pl ayer s f rom t he a ero s pac e a nd related i ndu st r ies. One noticeable lack, says Johnson, is a significant presence of automotive manufacturing. "People say we're too far south to support that industry, but that's insane," he insists. "We have deep-water ports and a terrific rail system. We can import and export anywhere, and we offer manufacturers the opportunity to save money because we're a right-to-work state. We're predictable, and we're always looking for the opportunity to help you be successful and keep more of your money." incredibly diverse. We've put a lot of money into K-through-12 e d u c a t i o n , e m p h a s i z i n g t he impor ta nce of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) training, and we've made great progress in attracting a variety of businesses." Tourism, agriculture, aerospace a nd defense have long been Florida's most notable industries, Johnson notes, but recent ly the state has been attracting b u s i n e s s e s s p e c i a l i z i n g i n financial services, the life sciences, m a r k e t i n g , e d u c a t i o n a n d logistics. Florida's 15 major ports make it a transportation hub for North and South America, with strong connections to Europe and Africa, as well. Above all, Johnson says, Florida is a well-managed and business-friendly state. "Our large urban areas are booming," he says. "Miami Beach is a global city; Florida is a global player. Companies from around the world are interested in locating here because of the quality of life and the amazing tax value. This is a great place to start a business because we have no personal income tax, no inheritance tax and many exemptions from the corporate tax. We've cut taxes every year for several years and cut its acquisition of the Virginia- based aerospace company, Exelis. "Since I took off ice on 1 March, our department has been working with Harris to help them keep their headquarters here," Johnson says. "We're working on about 300 other deals, currently, to bring companies representing different industries into the state. Florida is the third most populous state in the Union, with 20 million people, and we'll add about 300,000 this year. We have a highly skilled workforce, Exterior of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed for the U.S. Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. Employee working on Relay Thoracic Stent-Graft at Bolton Medical in Sunrise, Fla. Florida Refuses To Slow Down In the years following the national economic collapse of 2008, Florida has emerged as one of the most economically p owerful of the 50 states. It's known for its business- friendly government, educated population and an economy far more diverse than it was a couple of generations ago. B i l l Jo h n s o n , F l o r i d a's Secretary of Commerce and President/CEO of Enterprise Florida, gives much of the credit to Florida's Gov. Rick Scott. Since Scott took office in early 2011, Johnson says, Florida has seen a net gain of 879,000 jobs, as well as other improvements in the economic picture. One of t he br ig htest econom ic indicators just recently, Johnson adds, has been the decision of Harris Corporation, the giant telecommunications and defense contractor, to retain its headquarters in Florida following 48 the LEADER | September/October 2015 SOUTHERN REGION REPORT | SPONSORED FEATURE

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