Midterm Madness

By staff writer
November 8, 2018 – 2 min. read

Tuesday’s midterm elections attracted record numbers of voters, with estimates putting the count at 113 million. This historic turnout brought 110 female winners, the country’s first openly gay governor and more than 30 flipped seats in Congress, but it also underscored the deep and often contentious divide facing our nation. Capital Analytics has been keeping a close eye on the results, particularly those affecting our markets in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

One of the biggest takeaways is the Democrats regaining control of the House, surpassing the 23 seats necessary for majority rule by more than 10. In Florida, former University of Miami president Donna Shalala won the 27th District previously held by Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, edging out Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell also won over Republican Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th District. Pennsylvania saw three seats flipped by Democrats Mary Scanlon in the 5th District, Conor Lamb in the 17th District and Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District.

Two congressional races in Georgia remained too close to call Wednesday evening, the first in the 6th District, where Republican Karen Handel is seeking reelection but trailed Democrat Lucy McBath 49.55 percent to 50.45 percent. In the 7th District, Republican Rob Woodall and Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux were in a similar position, with Woodhall holding a slight lead of 50.23 percent over Bourdeaux’s 49.77 percent. Georgia law requires a recount if the final vote margin is 1 percent or less, according to the Associated Press. Both campaigns are waiting for absentee ballots to be counted in hopes of naming a clear winner.

Though the House succumbed to the “blue wave,” the GOP not only retained control of the Senate but also bolstered it with a number of key victories in states like Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. In Florida, the hotly contested race between Republican former governor Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is heading for automatic recount. According to unofficial returns posted on Wednesday by the state Division of Elections, Scott held a 30,239-vote lead out of 8.1 million ballots cast — a difference of just .38 percent. In Florida, if the margin in a race is less than .5 percent, a recount is automatically triggered. The Senate race might not be the only one to move to recount, either. Florida’s agriculture commissioner contest between Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nikki Fried is even tighter, with Caldwell carrying a slim .16 percent lead on Wednesday evening.

While Tom Wolf comfortably won reelection in Pennsylvania, the Florida and Georgia governor’s races were much more hotly contested. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican opponent Ron DeSantis early on Wednesday, but by late Wednesday DeSantis’s lead had narrowed to a margin of just .57 percent. However, this still remained outside of the .5 percent margin that requires a recount under Florida law. Votes were still being counted on Thursday morning, and if the margin falls below .5 percent, a recount will be triggered.

Georgia’s gubernatorial race is even closer, with Democrat Stacey Abrams refusing to concede to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) and vowing to “fight for every vote.” While Kemp’s campaign declared victory to reporters on Wednesday evening, the Abrams campaign readied its legal team to challenge the election results. A runoff, if it comes to that, would be held on December 4.

Even as heated battles underscored the increasingly polarized nature of U.S. politics, culminating in a divided Congress, the 2018 midterms marked a new high for women taking seats in the chamber, with 98 women projected to win in the House and 12 in the Senate. Even more notable is the fact that 34 of these women are newly elected members of Congress. This “pink wave” includes 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in history to take a seat in Congress, serving New York’s 14th District. In Pennsylvania, a record-breaking four women are projected to win seats in the House. This is particularly momentous considering not a single woman currently represents the state in the House. Women are also projected to win in nine gubernatorial races (not counting Stacey Abrams, who is still vying to become the country’s first female African-American governor).

In addition to the inroads made by women, there has also been a noticeable push for diversity in public office. Two Muslim women and two Native American women will take seats in Congress, and Colorado’s Jared Polis (D) will become the country’s first openly gay governor. Overall, more than 100 LGBTQ candidates claimed victory on Tuesday night, indicating changing attitudes toward how voters think about both LGBTQ candidates and rights. Exit polls suggest that voter diversity also hit all-time highs for midterm elections, with the non-white vote estimated at 28 percent. (For perspective, in 1990 non-white voters accounted for just 9 percent of the vote.)

While some races remain too close to call and others were resounding losses or victories, depending on which side of the party line you walk, the fact that so many people showed up to vote is something all parties can be proud of. We’ll be keeping an eye on the tight races in Florida and Georgia and looking forward to what’s in store in 2020.


Surprise Win in the Sunshine State Primaries

By staff writer
August 29, 2018  – 2 min. read

In the wake of last night’s primaries, Florida has quickly become the setting of one of 2018’s most important governor’s races. In the hotly contested Democratic primary, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum prevailed over former member of Congress Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and businessman Jeff Greene to advance as the Democratic candidate. In November, he will go up against Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis in a contest that election forecasters predict will be a toss-up.

Gillum’s win came as a surprise to many. Going into the primary, he led no independent polls and trailed the field in fundraising. However, with 94 percent of the votes counted, he had a 3 percentage point lead over Graham, his closest rival. In Miami-Dade and Broward, the state’s two largest Democratic counties, he overwhelmed Graham by a margin of two to one with record turnouts at the polls.

Gillum, who is both young (age 39) and ideologically progressive, would be the first black governor of Florida, and he has already made history as Florida’s first black nominee for governor. The foundation of his campaign centered on a message of social justice, raising the downtrodden and appealing to the state’s growing diversity. His agenda includes support for Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage and strong opposition to the Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

Looking ahead to November’s election, Gillum’s work is cut out for him. While Florida’s population is growing and the state’s demographics are changing rapidly, Florida has not elected a Democratic governor since 1994, and the state voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election.

Like Gillum, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis is young (also 39), and his opponent, Adam Putnam, outspent him two to one in the primary campaign. But that might be where their similarities end. An Iraq war veteran with a strong conservative record, DeSantis’s campaign largely rested on his Florida credentials (he was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012) and his vow to continue the economic progress he credits to outgoing Governor Rick Scott. He supports tighter restrictions on illegal immigration and staunchly supports the Second Amendment.

The stage is set for a clear ideological contest in November’s gubernatorial race in one of the country’s major presidential battleground states. 2018 is certainly shaping up to be an exciting midterm election year, and Invest: Miami, Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County and Invest: Tampa Bay will be keeping a close eye on the races in Florida.

Tax questions? Look no further!

Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County teams up with Cherry Bekaert to shed some light on the new(ish) tax legislation

By staff writer
August 2018 – 2 min. read

Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.  ― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind 

Last December, Congress passed a hard-fought piece of legislation that has fundamentally changed the national tax structure and dropped the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. Businesses throughout the U.S. are working to understand what this reform will mean for them and their employees. Small businesses, which constitute the vast majority of businesses in Broward County, are especially eager to learn what the new legislation means.

To help out with this search for knowledge, we sat down with David Appel, managing partner of Cherry Bekaert’s South Florida office, to talk tax. See below for some of his insights:

David Appel of Cherry Bekaert, South Florida.

How will the new tax legislation affect individuals in Florida?
Almost every tax bracket is going to be favorably impacted by the tax bill. However, there will be particular groups that might see their taxes rise. For example, reductions to the amount of taxes (real estate and income taxes) that can be claimed as itemized deductions will negatively affect those who live in the Northeast or other states with high state income tax rates. These individuals might see their tax bills rise due to the loss of certain types of deductions just mentioned and others that they previously were allowed to claim. In Florida, we don’t have a personal income tax, so it’s not going to affect us that much. The rate reductions are going to help, which ultimately puts more cash in our pockets

What do you expect companies will do with the savings they receive?
Many companies have said they will reinvest in IT, company infrastructure and staffing, which is what we want to hear. Higher wages are a good thing for the economy. We don’t want to hear about additional dividend distributions for the owners. Others might decide to use the extra funds to reduce their debt and build more equity within the company. Most taxpayers that I’ve talked to are going to reinvest in talent, increase wages and put money into IT. As technology shifts by the hour, companies have to stay competitive on the IT side.

How will the tax legislation affect startups in South Florida?
For startups, it’s about structuring operations from formation and determining what changes need to be made to those existing entities. If a startup isn’t going to be a pass-through (where the tax is borne by the owners and not the business entity), it will be a C-corporation. Many new companies lose money in the initial years before they become profitable. Therefore, the type of entity they select to be taxed as at their inception is not always an easy decision. In 2017, the maximum federal tax rate for C-corps was 35 percent. Under the new law, the federal corporate rate is now reduced to 21 percent. That’s a big difference. For some of these companies, it’s a decision based on which rate will serve them better. Are they better served by taking advantage of losses in the early stages of the company passing through to their personal returns or by the lower corporate rate on income as they become profitable?

These startup companies are new, and they can potentially benefit from setting themselves up as C-corps and then selling stock as their exit strategy to take advantage of the capital gain rate, thus paying one layer of tax. However, many buyers don’t want to buy stock but instead are interested in the assets of the company. This option results in a C-corp layer tax on any gain and a second layer of tax when the remaining cash proceeds are distributed to the owners. Therefore, modeling must be performed before changes are made to current entity structures.  

There are certain provisions that allow for some stock sales to be deferred or exempt if the selling shareholders roll the proceeds into other similar-type investments. However, if the companies lose money, owners would want to be able to take the pass-through benefit and run those losses through to their personal returns. Unfortunately, it is one choice or the other. What’s better for a particular company or its owners? These are just a small sample of the type of decisions that need to be made.

For more from David Appel and other experts on how the tax legislation will affect you and your business, look for the tax section in this year’s edition of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale.

For more information about Cherry Bekaert, click here.
To pre-order your copy of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale 2019, click here.

Enhancing Quality of Life

Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County sits down with the mayor of Oakland Park

By staff writer
July 2018 – 2 min. read

Now known as the City of Oakland Park, the Town of Floranada was founded in December 1925 and stretched from the ocean westward to what is now U.S. 441. This massive community was diminished, and many of the residents moved away after the September 1926 hurricane. A smaller community, the City of Oakland Park, took the Town of Floranada’s place. Today, the city occupies about eight square miles, with expansive parks, a library and recreation programs for all. Twice a year there is a tree giveaway to residents, and the city has plans for an upcoming bike path/walkway project.

“For many years, Oakland Park wasn’t on the map as a destination, but that featured market is now changing,” Mayor Lonergan told Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County when he sat down with our team earlier this summer.

The City of Oakland Park prides itself on its relationships with local businesses. “We have a good partnership with the Oakland Park Business Group, which comprises about 70 businesses,” Mayor Lonergan told Invest:. “They get involved with initiatives to help clean up the city and bring more businesses here.”

The Proud to Be Oakland Park initiative was formed to recognize the pride local businesses have in being a part of the Oakland Park community. Recently, the mayor and city commission awarded five businesses Proud to Be Oakland Park awards to recognize and celebrate their commitment to the city.

Among the new businesses in Oakland Park are Funky Buddha Brewery, the largest craft brewery in Florida, and Tatts and Tacos, a trendy Mexican restaurant and beer garden. The introduction of new restaurants has been bringing the Culinary Arts District to life. This district is an initiative in Downtown Oakland Park designed to attract new culinary businesses and customers to the city while at the same time strengthening the neighborhood for current tenants and residents.

According to Mayor Lonergan, new businesses are not the only thing putting the city on the map. The expansion of community events is also bringing more people to Oakland Park. There are a variety of seasonal events, such as the city’s own Oktoberfest and the kid-friendly Halloween bash, which offers music and fun for everyone. July alone is a busy month for Oakland Park, with a citywide yard sale, Mighty Machine & Truck Day for kids and the continuation of the Summer Nights in the Park series, which features a free monthly Culinary Arts Showcase, live music and a family-friendly movie.  

The city values the members of its community and makes these events open to all interested parties, believing in inclusivity for all programs, services and activities. The City of Oakland Park even tests well. “[We were] recently awarded a 99 percent score by the Municipality Equality Index Report from the Human Rights Campaign, which is something to be very proud of,” Mayor Lonergan told Invest:. This report analyzes how inclusive municipalities are of the LGBTQ people who work and reside within their boundaries.

“We believe quality of life is of utmost importance,” the mayor added, “and we are enhancing that for the residents and visitors to Oakland Park.”

For more information about Oakland Park, visit the city’s website: https://oaklandparkfl.gov/


Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County 2.0

Capital Analytics kicks off the second annual report of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County

June 28, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — Following generous praise from the local and international business communities after the release of the inaugural edition of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County, Capital Analytics has returned to update the county’s second annual business report. Innovation is a focal point for Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County 2019, a comprehensive business review analyzing the key issues facing Broward County’s economy, featuring comments from the area’s top industry leaders.

Bob Swindell, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, notes, “Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale 2019 will inform global investors, entrepreneurs and businesspeople of the professional opportunities available in Broward County, while also highlighting and promoting Broward County as a great place to do business.”

The first edition included insights gleaned from one-on-one, in-person discussions with over 200 C-level executives, including Florida Governor Rick Scott, Stiles President Scott MacLaren, Port Director Steven Cernak, Nova Southeastern University President George Hanbury and Citrix Systems CEO David Henshall.

Our first edition served as an introduction of Broward County to our global readership, who are not as familiar with the development and economic diversification within the county,” said Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics. “Its overwhelmingly positive reception ensured we would follow up the inaugural launch with an even deeper look at how market newcomers and veterans alike can take advantage of the region’s investment opportunities.”

Distributed locally, nationally and globally, Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County serves as the first comprehensive investor’s guide to holistically assess the economy of Broward County. Of its more than 600,000 global readers, the majority are senior executives who use the in-depth business intelligence to make informed business decisions within industries that range from health to marine and from aviation to hospitality.

The highly anticipated launch conference of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County took place in November 2017 at the Riverside Hotel. The future of Broward County and the county’s infrastructure were the subjects of two panels featuring Mark Gale, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport; James Donnelly, chairman of the Broward Workshop and founder & CEO of the Castle Group; and other local VIPs. The event was attended by over 200 industry leaders, including city officials and notable businessmen and women from each of the market’s predominant sectors.

Capital Analytics is excited to return to the market with one familiar and one new face to spearhead the second edition’s research: Executive Director Erica Knowles and Editorial Manager Robin Miller. This powerhouse duo is eager to create a high-quality report that dives even deeper than the first and showcases this vibrant area.

For more information contact:
Jaime Muehl
Managing Editor
TEL: 305-523-9708

The Shared Economy and What It Means for South Florida


February 2018 — Despite Hurricane Irma barreling through the region last fall, a record 88.2 million visitors came to Florida during the first nine months of 2017, a 3.3 percent increase over the same time period in the previous year. More specifically, South Florida welcomed more than 112 million visitors in 2016 and over 60 million visitors by mid-2017. The number of tourists who came to visit in 2016 set another record, surpassing the 106.6 million visitors in 2015 by 5.9 percent.

This pattern of growth is no coincidence. South Florida has been attracting tourists from far and wide with its vibrant cultural offerings as it slowly develops into a globally recognized art capital.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this increasing trend, there is fierce competition in the South Florida hospitality industry. The shared economy — particularly peer-to-peer home exchanges like Airbnb — has been increasingly vying with Miami and Fort Lauderdale hotels to meet visitors’ accommodation needs.

“The presence of Airbnb has been a bigger threat to the hotel market in Miami-Dade than in Greater Fort Lauderdale, but its impact is increasingly making itself felt here,” Bill Cunningham, general manager of Bahia Mar, told Invest:. “Everybody in the hotel industry is still trying to quantify the impact that it is having on hotels, and hoteliers have certainly been surprised by the growth in the number of Airbnb units there are in the county.”

One thing is certain: traditional hotels can no longer ignore the fact that the shared economy is here to stay. Miami-Dade County is one of the top 5 Airbnb destinations in the country, with 6,800 hosts renting their homes to visitors.

The hotel industry realizes that it needs to be flexible about the sharing economy, and that there will be people who prefer traditional accommodation, while others prefer new ways to stay when they travel,” Stacy Ritter, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Invest:. “It’s a matter of marketing, messaging, sales and customer targeting for hotels to reach the right customer.”

One of the biggest challenges the hotel industry faces in competing with companies like Airbnb is regulation, where the playing field has not always been level. South Florida officials are working toward finding a balance that will support both the traditional and consumer-to-consumer markets.

“Since May 2017, Airbnb has been paying a resort tax, convention development tax, tourist development tax and sports tax,” William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Invest: “However, while hotels must follow strict operating ordinances, nearby Airbnb rental properties do not. The tax provides a source of revenue for us, and we are currently working with County Commissioner Heyman to develop regulations for peer-to-peer property rentals. Any regulations that the county commission implements will only affect unincorporated areas of the county, as municipalities retain domain over their own regulations for services like Airbnb.”

In October 2017, Miami-Dade County passed new legislation that provides more stringent rules for hosts, improving the vacation rental standards. Under this new legislation, hosts are required to sign up for a certificate of use, register for a business tax receipt and screen for sexual offenders, among other tighter overall standards.

Airbnb and other companies like it offer an experience that is very different from traditional hotels, and consumers appreciate both. The hope is that the two can find a way to coexist, continuing South Florida’s stellar hospitality tradition.

For more information about our interviewees, visit their websites here:

GFLCVB: https://www.sunny.org

Bahia Mar: http://www.bahiamaryachtingcenter.com

GMCVB: http://www.miamiandbeaches.com


Greater Fort Lauderdale’s global potential highlighted at Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County 2018


Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 9, 2017 – Greater Fort Lauderdale’s international potential, growing infrastructure and vibrant economy are some of the focal points in the first edition of Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County from Capital Analytics. The official launch of the publication took place on November 8 at the Riverside Hotel in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The yearly business guide reviews the business climate of Greater Fort Lauderdale, analyzing Broward’s top industries and interviewing leading local CEOs. The 140 plus page report offers a comprehensive yet concise view of the county’s ever-diversifying economy.

Following a short networking breakfast, Capital Analytics hosted two discussion panels that went in depth into discussing the key issues currently facing the Broward County economy. The first panel discussed increasing urbanization and the future of Broward County. The panel was moderated by Rebecca Bratter, managing shareholder of GreenspoonMarder, and panelists were James Donnelly, chairman of the Broward Workshop and founder & CEO of the Castle Group, David Martin, president of Terra Group, Cressman Bronson, regional president for PNC and David Coddington, vice president of business development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. David Martin laid out a vision for how trends in urban living in South Florida are leading to massive mixed-use projects such as Pembroke Pines City Center. James Donnelly relayed key findings from the Broward Workshop’s skills gap analysis of the local workforce and ways that they are working with the business community and education sector to close these gaps. Cressman Bronson furthered the emphasis on improving education, pointing to the higher net returns on investment in early childhood education. David Coddington underlined the competitive advantages of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s business environment and how the Alliance is  working to attract new businesses such as Amazon to establish local operations.

The second panel discussed the state of Broward County’s infrastructure and was moderated by Capital Analytics’ president Abby Melone. Panelists were Diana Alarcon, director of the Fort Lauderdale Department of Transportation and Mobility, Patrick Collins, general manager of Crowley, Mark Gale, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Bob Moss, chairman & CEO of Moss & Associates . Mark Gale and Patrick Collins pointed to the massive capital expenditure programs taking place at the airport and seaport as signs of the growing strength of Broward County’s infrastructure. Bob Moss commented on how such infrastructure investments such the airport and seaport expansion projects as well as the new Brightline are driving the local construction market. Meanwhile, Diana Alarcon gave a detailed insider’s perspective on where the county’s transit infrastructure is headed to meet the needs of a growing population.

The event was attended by hundreds of high-level guests and officials from some of Broward County’s key industries and economic institutions.

Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics, explained, “Following our three successful Invest: Miami publications, it seemed only natural to expand our report into equally exciting markets in Florida. Greater Fort Lauderdale offers a range of opportunities for businesses and residents alike with its amazing geography and superior transport connections. We see a great deal of commitment to development across all economic sectors.”


About Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County

Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County is an in-depth economic review of the key issues facing Greater Fort Lauderdale’s economy featuring the exclusive insights of prominent industry leaders.  Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County is produced with two goals in mind: 1) to provide comprehensive investment knowledge on Broward County to local, national and international investors, and 2) to promote Broward as a place to invest and do business.

The book conducts a deep dive into the top economic sectors in the county including real estate, construction, utilities and infrastructure, transportation and aviation, marine and logistics, banking and finance, health, education, sports, and arts, culture and tourism. This year’s publication will also go in-depth into the City of Pembroke Pines and the City of Dania Beach. The publication is compiled from insights collected from more than 100 economic leaders, sector insiders, political leaders and heads of important institutions. It analyzes the leading challenges facing the market, as well as covers emerging opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

A copy can be purchased for $159 at www.capitalanalyticsassociates.com/shop


We would like to thank our event sponsors:

Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance www.gflalliance.org

Garda World www.Garda.com
GreenspoonMarder www.gmlaw.com
Las Olas Company www.thelasolascompany.com
PNCBank www.pnc.com
Riverside Hotel www.riversidehotel.com
US Gas & Electric www.usgande.com

The year ahead: A glimpse at the economic outlook for South Florida

The year ahead: A glimpse at the economic outlook for South Florida

The resurgent South Florida economy has the recession and real estate collapse of the late 2000s in its rear-view mirror. Led by rapid growth in construction jobs, South Florida is on track to further rebuild its employment base in 2015, expert observers say.

“We should do well in 2015,” said J. Antonio Villamil, founder and principal of the Washington Economics Group in Coral Gables. “We have a good business climate, low interest rates and low oil prices, so we’re coming into the new calendar year with a bang. … Construction, retail and anything to do with the visitor industry should do well.”

Villamil said employment in South Florida is growing across multiple industries: “It’s more diverse than just a boom in one sector. … South Florida is finishing the year [2014] with all the cylinders running at a high rate.”

High-rise construction is hot again, raising questions about its sustainability.

“You have to worry about it getting too robust, too frothy. You know, Florida has a history of that, boom-bust, and I think that’s one thing we’ve got to watch,” said David “Dave” Seleski, president and chief executive officer of Fort Lauderdale-based Stonegate Bank.

“You see the prices that condos are selling for, you see multifamily apartments popping up everywhere. You have got to wonder: At what point is it going to get overbuilt?”

But if history is a good guide, concern about another real estate meltdown in South Florida may be premature.

Mark Vitner, a senior economist of Wells Fargo Bank, said South Florida real estate slumps and economic recessions rarely coincide as they did in the late 2000s. He said it previously had happened in the early 1990s and the mid-1970s.

“The good news is that the real estate cycle tends to be twice as long as the business cycle, so real estate busts do not come along as often as recessions,” Vitner said.

“There’s no way to completely escape booms and busts in the real estate market,” but future busts may do less damage than past ones, he said.

“The Miami economy has broadened and deepened to a point where it … should be more durable than it has been in the past,” Vitner said.

Here are glimpses of the outlook in five key sectors of the South Florida economy:


Co-worker reunions have become a routine at Coastal Construction Group, which gradually has hired back some of the employees it laid off amid a breakdown in building activity from 2007 to 2010.

After downsizing its staff to survive the downturn, Miami-based Coastal resumed hiring — and rehiring — in 2011. “We have 54 people who we’ve talked to about coming back and 53 have rejoined us over the past three years,” said Tom C. Murphy, executive vice president of Coastal Construction Group.

Coastal now has more than 400 employees, up from its pre-slump head count of 350 in 2007, to handle its expanding business. The company expects revenue to grow from $850 million in 2014 to $900 million in 2015. Among its biggest current projects are the Porsche Design Tower, a luxury high-rise condominium building in Sunny Isles Beach, and SkyRise, a 1,000-foot observation tower in downtown Miami.

“We continue to see growth in the high rise residential,” Murphy said, and the market for residential estates with construction costs of $15 million to $50 million “is booming.”

The fortunes of other builders have improved, too. Over the past 10 years, average annual employment in South Florida’s construction sector bottomed at 85,100 in 2011 after peaking at 164,000 in 2006. The preliminary estimate of construction employment in November was 105,700 — still about 20 percent below the 125,000 level 10 years ago.

The temporarily muted construction industry is making big noises again: Employment is growing faster in construction than in any other sector of the economy. The number of construction jobs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties grew by 8.9 percent from November 2013 to November 2014 while total employment in the area grew 3.4 percent. University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith forecast that South Florida’s job base in construction will grow 11.6 percent in 2015.

Vitner said he expected even faster growth in construction employment, “given all the highly visible construction activity we see in South Florida. One possible explanation for that is, single-family home building has not come back at all. … The upper end of the condo market has been exceptionally strong, though it’s mostly an international phenomenon.”

High-rise residential development, dormant during the one-two punch of economic recession and the real estate collapse in the late 2000s, is surging again. But this segment of the construction industry may be less susceptible to a repeat of the last boom- and-bust cycle.

“I really think things are different this time,” said Gil Dezer, developer of the $500 million Porsche Design Tower, featuring elevators that will take residents and their cars to condo units with adjacent parking spaces.

South Florida condo purchases have been “sustained this time around,” Dezer said, crediting bigger deposits and down payments by buyers. “There’s a lot of cash from the buyers. There’s a lot less leverage than before when there were 80 percent and 90 percent mortgages.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/biz-monday/article5414133.html#storylink=cpy