2023 Spotlight: Palm Beach County remains the place to be

2023 Spotlight: Palm Beach County remains the place to be

2022-12-30T11:24:46-05:00December 30th, 2022|Economy, Palm Beach|

Writer: Gabriela Enamorado

2 min read December 2022 Palm Beach County has earned the nickname of “Wall Street of the South,” and despite challenges in infrastructure and housing, the region is slated for continued growth. 

In 2022, Palm Beach experienced explosive growth in unique ways with its economic diversity, a strengthening business and financial environment, top-notch education and a growing population. The region is expected to keep this momentum going into the new year. 

Business and financial services have seen continued success in the county as reflected in the 126,100 professionals employed by the sector as of November 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

With businesses moving and expanding their operations in Palm Beach, like Goldman Sachs and Blackrock, thousands of professionals have also moved with them. 

About 11,000 people moved to Palm Beach right after COVID and 41% alone came from the Manhattan area,” Kelly Smallridge told Invest:: earlier this year. “Those people brought $3.4 billion with them. We now lead in terms of the highest median wage in all 67 counties in the state of Florida. In my 34 years of doing economic development to grow our jobs and diversify our industries, this is the largest transformation that I’ve ever seen.” 

Another key industry that is prospering is Education as Palm Beach County continues to have some of the best schools in the tri-county area. Preparing the future workforce with a comprehensive education and an inclusive learning environment continues to be a top priority for Palm Beach. 

A key highlight for the educational landscape in the area was the decision to open a University of Florida campus in West Palm Beach. This new campus aims to bring high tech research to Palm Beach County and become the top AI university in the country.

The University of Florida coming to Palm Beach County is a benefit for the entire county,” Ava Parker, president of Palm Beach State College, told Invest:. “If you look at areas around the country where you have a successful and robust economy, you tend to have a successful higher education ecosystem. With the growth of Palm Beach County, there’s greater demand for employees and professions. Employers want folks to have post-high school credentials, so when we have more academic institutions that are in a position to meet that demand, it can provide opportunities for the entire community.” 

Enrollment in Palm Beach has not taken a major toll compared to enrollment numbers across the country and is doing better when compared to the state. The county has experienced an increase in enrollment, a noticeable outlier compared to other areas that have been experiencing enrollment downturn. The School District of Palm Beach County has reportedopens PDF file their enrollment numbers as 189,791 in their 11th day enrollment report. 

Diversity in both pre-k-12 and higher education is a noticeable plus for the education system in the region. Palm Beach County is home to Lynn University which is the most diverse university in the state, and Florida Atlantic University, the state’s eighth most diverse college. Palm Beach State College’s diversity statistics are above average, with 34% Hispanics student population and 27% Black student population. The national average for Hispanic students is 32% and the state average for Black students is 13%. 

Palm Beach County’s continued growth has not come without its challenges. The more people that move to the county, the less space there is to put all the new residents. The population growth also brought new money to the area, which in turn has increased residential prices, making it difficult for working families to find affordable housing and also adding financial stress to long-term residents.

It will continue to be very challenging,” Michael Ging, managing director at Alliance Residential Realty told Invest:. “Homebuilders can’t seem to meet the demand and entry-level pricing for a lot of homes is very high, so first-time homebuyers are struggling the most. With interest rates going up, it will get tougher. In the last year or so, I’ve read a lot about rent growth and how many people have been priced out of the market.” 

An increase in inventory is expected to bring some relief to the housing market. “The developers have been racing to build enough homes to meet demand,” Dionna Hall, CEO of Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors and BeachesMLS told Invest:. “We do see that inventory will continue to increase. Four months’ inventory is what you want in a healthy, stable market, so we still have far to go in order to get there. 

Affordable and workforce housing initiatives are also being developed to help mitigate this challenge. 

“We have workforce housing programs in place but they are not sufficient to keep pace with the growth of the businesses and increase in population,” Verdenia Baker, county administrator of Palm Beach County, told Invest:. “The Board of County Commissioners approved a $200 million bond initiative for the November 8, 2022 ballot. The board has other funding allocated and program incentives to help offset development costs resulting in an increase of restricted units  for workforce housing. If the bond passes, it will provide additional capacity to buy down and restrict units far into the future.”