A global business hub with great beaches, Fort Lauderdale has become so much more than a tourist destination for sun worshippers.
Miles of spectacular beaches is not the only major attraction of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The city has developed a thriving business community that extends far beyond the tourism industry, and it has become a much-desired locale for year-round residents.
The greater Fort Lauderdale area and its county – Broward – were ranked in 2021 as the nation’s #2 Best Business Climate, for a mid-sized metropolitan area, by Business Facilities magazine.1 Greater Fort Lauderdale was the only location in Florida to place in the top 10 Business Climate rankings for any sized community.
The recognition reflects the long-term effort the region has made to foster a business-friendly environment and to attract high-wage jobs. As Broward County Mayor Steven Geller noted after the ranking was announced, “Company headquarters and businesses in tech, aviation, life sciences and the marine industries continue to choose to locate and grow in Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County.”
Today, the presence of 200 regional, national or international headquarter operations has made the Fort Lauderdale area a major global business center.2 The region’s location, a well-developed infrastructure, and its population base have contributed to that success as a business hub. Businesses have easy access to domestic and international markets, given that the region has three international airports, several general aviation airports, and three deep-water seaports. It also provides companies with one of the most diverse and multilingual labor forces in Florida.
Companies can attract and retain employees because of the quality of the area’s schools. According to U.S. News & World Report rankings, five Broward County high schools are among the top 5% in the nation, and 15 are in the top 20%. Firms can also tap recent graduates from the population of 350,000 students who attend the 43 institutions of higher learning that are within a 30-mile radius of the city.
At the center of South Florida’s TechGateway
Midway between Miami and West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale is also at the heart of South Florida’s TechGateway, a public-private initiative across the three cities that was established to support the leading technology companies in the region. The tech companies with operations in the Fort Lauderdale area include Microsoft, Citrix, JetSmarter, Magic Leap, Hotwire Communications and Ultimate Software.
In 2020, the commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE named South Florida as one of the next 10 tech markets to watch, and it also ranked the region as the eighth best market for tech labor pool growth.4
A hot real estate market
Through just 10 months of 2021, Broward County had already posted a record-breaking year for home sales. Total sales for existing homes were 34,167, eclipsing the annual record of 33,891 set in 2016.5 The greater Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas have also been ranked among the top-10 real estate markets that people have moved to during the pandemic.6
With the shift to working from home giving people more freedom to live anywhere they want; more people are choosing to move to south Florida. The warm climate, easy access to beaches, and a full variety of dining, shopping and entertainment options, along with no personal income tax in the state of Florida, are proving to be irresistible lures for newcomers.
The new residents are not only coming from within the United States. The region has seen a large of influx of international buyers, as evidenced by the increase in sales that are fully cash transactions. Cash sales, which are more common with buyers coming from overseas, represented 39.1% of Broward County home closings in October 2021, up from 30.4% in October of the previous year.7 The national average for cash sales is 24%. The recent lifting of restrictions on travel into the United States, and the progress the U.S. has made with vaccinations, relative to many other countries, has added to the appeal of south Florida to these buyers.
A full array of entertainment options
No matter what type of fun and entertainment people are seeking, they will be able to find numerous choices in Fort Lauderdale. It’s a boaters’ paradise. With its intricate canal system, Fort Lauderdale is sometimes called the Venice of America. It is a major yachting center and has over 100 marinas and boatyards.
The city’s arts and entertainment district run along Las Olas Boulevard, from the beach to the heart of the city’s downtown area. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts has multiple venues, including the 2,658-seat Au-Rene Theater, a showcase for classical music, Broadway shows, and performances by the Florida Grand Opera.
The FLA Live Arena, located in nearby Sunrise, Florida, offers concerts from major stars and is also home to the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers. Fans of professional basketball, baseball and football don’t have to travel much further to take in games, given that Miami, home to the Heat, Marlins and Dolphins, is only about 40 minutes away.
While the region offers renowned museums, it’s also well known for its outdoor art exhibitions, including the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project, a public initiative to create murals from international as well as local artists.
A vibrant nightlife
For after-dinner entertainment, people can find jazz and blue clubs that are open seven nights a week. Those who like to line dance can kick up their heels at the city’s renowned Round Up Country Western Bar. At the Café Iguana Pines, a 25,000-square foot nightclub, patrons can hit the dance floor to DJs and live bands or even take the mic themselves to sing on karaoke nights.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Ale Trail has more than 45 breweries, beer gardens and pubs. Those looking to place some wagers will find several casinos in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, where they can try their luck at gaming tables like blackjack or baccarat.
A diverse geography
Nature lovers can tour not only beachfronts, but also bayous, canals, and farmland, while becoming acquainted with the wildlife that occupies it all. Plenty of helicopter tours offer a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking landscapes. Those who want to take it all in on a kayak, boat or paddleboard will find many options to rent the vessel of their choice.
Just off the shores of Greater Fort Lauderdale are 69 miles of natural coral reef, offering snorkelers and scuba divers an opportunity to explore a unique underwater environment. From March to October, many people comb the beaches to witness the turtle-nesting season as sea turtles establish nests for their hatchlings.
Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side, the Fort Lauderdale area has another equally impressive natural wonder on its other side – the Everglades. Airboat rides enable visitors to observe all the exotic flora, fauna and wildlife that includes alligators and Florida panthers. The Everglades is home to the Seminole Indians, who provide visitors with opportunities to learn about their history and culture.
Having long since shed its reputation as the premiere destination for college spring breakers, Fort Lauderdale has become a vibrant and much-desired location for people from around the world who want to make the city their permanent home.
1. Source: “Greater Fort Lauderdale Named #2 Best Business Climate in Nation by Business Facilities Magazine,” Greater Fort Lauderdale alliance, 8/23/21
2. Source: “Our Advantages: Strategic Global Location,” City of Fort Lauderdale, Economic and Community Investment Division
3. Source: “Top Rankings,” Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
4. Source: “Top Rankings,” Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
5. Source: “Greater Fort Lauderdale Area Breaks Annual Homes Sales Record in 2021,” World Property Journal, 11/29/21
6. Source: “Migration’s new map: Florida and Utah win favor as two giant metros lose out,” LinkedIn Workforce Insights, 3/21/21
7. Source: “Greater Fort Lauderdale Area Breaks Annual Homes Sales Record in 2021,” World Property Journal, 11/29/21
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