No one could question Florida’s FDI credentials. Traditionally, it is a top aerospace location but, in recent years, other knowledge-based sectors like life sciences and ICT have brought thousands of jobs to the state. Enterprise Florida and its Chairman Governor Rick Scott make sure Florida is a real contender where new jobs are concerned. Jo Murray (JM), Editor of Corp Expansion, puts the following questions to Tim Vanderhoof (TV), Senior Vice President of Business Development, Enterprise Florida, Inc.

JM Just to understand the context in which you work, what does Enterprise Florida do? FDI is a given, but do you also support local companies to collaborate internationally, to export and do you have a political/representative role too?

TV Enterprise Florida is the principal economic development organization for Florida. We work with a network of partners state-wide to bring high-skill, high-wage private-sector jobs to the state, including FDI projects. We focus on nine target sectors, including IT, aviation/aerospace, life sciences, manufacturing, financial/professional services, and logistics/distribution.
Yes, we assist local businesses with their trade efforts. We have a very strong international trade and development program. Last year, more than 500 small and mid-sized companies exhibited in tradeshows and attended trade missions with us around the world. Those companies reported nearly $740 million in total projected export sales following those events.
We are fortunate to be led by Governor Rick Scott, who is the Chairman of our Board of Directors. Since taking office in 2011, the Governor has worked tirelessly to bring jobs to the state. More than 1.4 million private-sector jobs have been created since he has been governor and more than 80% of businesses no longer pay the business tax. Each year he works with state leaders to make sure Florida has the tools necessary to compete for job creation projects.

JM Most of us will always associate Florida with aerospace given its great location and reputation for MRO and aircraft assembly. What are your aerospace credentials and how do they help create a buzz for Florida as a key location for this sector?

TV Aerospace has been a strong industry for Florida for decades, going back 50-plus years to the first launch on the Space Coast. Today, more than 85,000 Floridians work in the aerospace sector, in nearly 2,200 aerospace and aviation establishments. Global industry leaders like Northrop Grumman, Boeing, PEMCO, Embraer, Thales, HEICO and Lockheed Martin all have major operations in the state. Lockheed Martin alone employs more than 13,000 Floridians.
There’s a lot of excitement building around the recent launches and landings. United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK and SpaceX all successfully launched and, in some cases, landed numerous vehicles in 2017. There are also some new facilities coming online soon, including Blue Origin’s rocket processing and launch operations, and OneWeb Satellites’ manufacturing facility.

JM What are you doing to nurture talent for the aerospace industry, especially the space industry, to ensure longevity?

TV Florida’s universities are among the nation’s top producers of STEM graduates, including many specializing in aviation and aerospace. We’re fortunate to be home to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace. On Dec. 11, 2017, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that a $1 million award to Embry-Riddle will be used to establish a new aviation and engineering research center in Florida.
For the third consecutive year the University of Central Florida has produced more graduates who are hired by aerospace and defense companies than any other university in the nation. That’s according to an annual Workforce Study conducted by Aviation Week Network, the Aerospace Industries Association, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and PwC.
Those are just two examples of the strong talent base available in Florida, thanks to our universities and colleges, as well as workforce training programs available through CareerSource Florida. Business Facilities magazine ranked Florida the No 6 state for workforce training earlier this year.

JM Which other knowledge-intensive industries are taking off in Florida and what are you doing to support them, especially in terms of life sciences and ICT?

TV Life sciences and ICT are certainly two growing industry clusters. Florida is home to the nation’s #2 largest medical device manufacturing industry, #3 largest pharmaceuticals manufacturing industry, and #7 largest biotech R&D industry. More than 27,000 Floridians work in Florida’s biotechnology, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and medical device manufacturing industries.
Johnson & Johnson opened its new $23 million North American shared services headquarters in Tampa last year. More than 500 Floridians will ultimately work in the 88,500-square-foot facility.
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s North America Capability Center is in Tampa as well. More than 500 professionals work in the $21 million facility near Tampa International Airport. Workers in information technology, marketing services, business and finance services, and other functions support the company’s biopharmaceutical business from the Center.
Florida has remained at the forefront of IT innovation since the birth of the IBM PC in Boca Raton. Today, Florida boasts the nation’s third largest tech industry, and more than 237,000 Floridians are employed in the sector. The state’s IT strengths are wide ranging – from software to photonics to modeling, simulation, and training.
We have companies like Citrix, Hotwire Communications, Jabil, EA Tiburon, Datamaxx and Gartner here, as well as the National Center for Simulation (NCS). The NCS is an internationally recognized leader in supporting and expanding the modeling and simulation community, operating as an open consortium.
As with the aerospace industry, the life sciences and ICT industries are supported by strong university and college systems in Florida. US News & World Report named Florida the Best State for Higher Education in 2017.

JM What are the Foreign Trade Zones in Florida all about and how do they dovetail with your inward investment strategy?

Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) provide a host of value-added benefits to our companies engaged in trade. A few examples of what FTZs offer: defer, reduce or eliminate payment of duties; eliminate formal customs entries; eliminate duties on goods processed in and exported from the zone; allows goods to be delivered direct; and reduces federal excise taxes and some state inventory taxes when applicable. Our international businesses enjoy access to the second largest FTZ network in the country. This is yet another resource companies in the state can benefit from and use to increase sales and expand their businesses.
The majority of companies engaged in trade in our state are small businesses and these types of unique benefits are critical to their success.

JM What is there to say about the business climate, managing risk and being represented at the highest echelons politically?

TV Florida is consistently ranked a top 10 State for business climate. Site Selection magazine ranked us the No 7 state this year, and the Tax Foundation ranked Florida No 4 on its 2018 State Business Tax Climate Index. Speeding up permitting times and getting businesses to market quickly has been a focus of the state as well. Department of Environmental Protection permitting is down from 79 to 33 days since Governor Scott took office, and Office of Financial Regulation permitting is down from 22 to 5 days. Governor Scott and the legislature will continue working to reduce business taxes and burdensome regulations and Florida will continue to rise in the rankings. In fact, our board of directors is led by Chairman Governor Scott and includes business leaders from around the state. I can say confidently that the leadership on our board shows the commitment Florida has to economic development in our state.

JM How are you investing your marketing resources to make sure your message reaches the furthest corners of the globe? Are you focusing on specific sectors, specific locations, marketing specific incentives, and dealing with negatives? What are your niches and what message-making is working well for you?

Enterprise Florida launched its “Florida – The Future is Here” campaign in January 2016. The campaign focuses on the state’s “Boundless” resources, including talent, infrastructure, innovation and market access. To date, the campaign has earned more than 741 million media impressions worldwide and received numerous national and international awards. Our campaign is still going strong today and we’re focusing primarily on reaching key decision-makers in our target sectors. We also take the campaign with us to international shows, where we use it to brand our Florida Pavilions and create more awareness for doing business in the state.

JM Where is the success? What is happening in Florida in terms of successful inward investment strategy and where is it taking you?

Florida is experiencing success all around the state. As a leader in attracting foreign direct investment, Florida ranks as one of the top four states in 2015 for FDI by job creation. Among the top FDI industry recipients are business and financial services, alternative & renewable energy, and software & IT services.
FDI is divided into four main regions: Southeast Florida, Orlando Metro area, Tampa Metro area, and Jacksonville, although regions like the Panhandle are experiencing success as well. GKN Aerospace, a British multinational automotive and aerospace components company, will locate a new $50 million manufacturing facility in Bay County, creating 170 jobs.
The state has an international program with representatives in 12 countries promoting Florida produced goods and services and Florida as a business destination. These representatives attend various trade shows and host FDI seminars to assist foreign companies with the expansion plans in Florida.
From January 2003 to August 2016, Florida ranked among the largest recipients of foreign direct investment in the US, with an estimated 740 announced FDI projects, $20.4 billion in capital investments, and more than 67,000 new FDI-supported jobs.

The image shows Florida Governor Rick Scott at the opening of Johnson & Johnson’s Global Service Center in Tampa and is courtesy of Florida EOG.