2 min read November 2021 — In an interview with Invest:, President and CEO of Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Bob Swindell talked about the migration of businesses and individuals to Florida. He discussed his plans for responsible growth, the evolution of Greater Fort Lauderdale, what industries will be coming to the state and his outlook for 2022.
What does the post-pandemic environment look like in Greater Fort Lauderdale?
I think things are starting to look a bit more like they did pre-pandemic. We’re all still processing the last 20 months and how it will impact business location and size. With people working remotely, it’s about finding the balance. Our real estate and development folks are ready and evaluating that to understand the shortcomings and benefits.
A major office project was brought online this year, with occupancy starting at the very end of 2020. It’s exciting. The building is close to 80% full and shows the market is responding well to the new product. It’s a class-A office building directly connected to a residential building, creating the ability for people to take just an elevator home. It creates a live, work, play environment.
The next big thing for us is the redevelopment in an area we call FATVillage. It’s a T3 project, which is a brand meaning technology, timber and transportation. They’re developing really unique spaces that fulfill necessary niches in Fort Lauderdale.
What new industries are you excited to see come to Fort Lauderdale?
Over the past year, LinkedIn identified Greater Fort Lauderdale as the No. 1 metro for migrating software and IT workers. We’re seeing that influx of talent and that has been a big part of our branding. A common saying in economic development these days is that “talent is the currency for economic development.” We really work hard on building our brand and identity to let people know that this area is great for living and that it’s thriving. It’s not just a place to visit for vacation. Broward County is also the birthplace of companies like UKG, Citrix and Chewy. Telling success stories like these is important to our economic growth and to increase visibility.
An indication of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s appeal is that we were selected as one of the top potential locations for a second Amazon headquarters. That consideration and level of attention sparks interest among many other companies as well.
How will Greater Fort Lauderdale look different in the future?
This area has always been identified as a phenomenal fun brand. People see it as a great place to have fun and a great destination to visit. Not only are we a fun brand but we are a great destination to live as well. We have several cities and towns that have large equestrian communities, which is popular among executive children. Rounding out a reputation as a place that is great to live and work has been important for us and we will continue to do that. We have advanced manufacturing companies in aviation and aerospace growing here so we have a broad variety of companies that are choosing Greater Fort Lauderdale. We’ve actually been working closely with West Marine as they move their headquarters to Fort Lauderdale, known as the boating capital of the world.
When you choose a Broward location you are geographically located in a central part of one of the most dynamic regions in the country. South Florida would be the 40th largest economy if the three counties were a nation state unto itself. Florida went from being the 17th-largest economy in the world to 15th in the last data analysis that was done. Our state is growing and we are providing the resources to meet the demands of that growth.
What is your outlook for the next year?
I see us building on the strength of the last several years of branding and identity for Greater Fort Lauderdale. Families and individuals continue to move to South Florida. “Work in the cloud, live in the sun” is a motto that rings true as people continue to work remotely and favor a better work-life balance.
We’re looking forward to continued growth. We are all concerned about inflationary pressures and I don’t believe it will be as transient as many people may think it is. We’ve been a low-wage state so to see pressures on wages is a good thing for us, whether it’s in hospitality or logistics. Amazon is going to be one of our largest employers in the next few years and while those are entry-level jobs, they offer great benefits. It will cause some upward pressure on inflation but it will be beneficial to the area and as a community.
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