The Most Open State In The Entire Country

Feb 28, 2022

During our February 16th webinar "Cross-Border Business Development; Palm Beach & Bahrain" we were honored to have so many diplomats and professionals speak about the evolving relationship between the business and educational communities of Palm Beach and Bahrain, including Kelly Smallridge, President & CEO of Palm Beach Economic Development Board.

The Most Open State In The Entire Country Plus An Equally Welcoming – Business Friendly Environment

Good evening to all of you and special Greetings to the Ambassador and Deputy Chief. As Al mentioned, I lead the economic development efforts for our entire Palm Beach County region which has a population of 1.5 million and expands 2000 sq. miles encompassing 39 cities. Traditionally, our economy in Palm Beach County was mainly focused on agriculture, tourism and retail. However, business, government and education leaders got together about 30 years ago to develop this really bold strategy to diversify the economy and bring in more information, technology, finance and biotech jobs. 

Our goal at the Business Development Board was to recruit these higher paying jobs as well as national and internationally recognized companies. We are now leading the entire state of Florida, as the Mayor stated in terms of job growth and population growth. Just like Bahrain, Florida is also open for business. As a matter of fact, I would say that Florida is probably the most open state in the entire country and has an equally welcoming, business friendly environment.

Because of that, we are seeing the greatest migration of companies to our county. As a matter of fact, over 96 companies have fled New York to come to Palm Beach County and Palm Beach County has seen the greatest migration of people and wealth out of any other area in the entire state. 

Last year alone, 11,000 people moved to the county with 40% of the 11,000 coming from New York, New Jersey and Boston. We have landed some of the most recognized largest financial service companies, big names like Goldman Sachs, Point 72, Millennium, Benefit Street Partners, all led by major billionaires. Not only do these companies bring sophisticated talent and resources, but they also have turned around and taken their dollars and invested in the local real estate market which certainly is creating some great real estate infill opportunities where we're seeing some new development and construction in our county.

In addition to fintech, we also have a very strong biotech industry with two of the world's largest research and development Institute co located in our county with the number five public University – the University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University. One of those research institutes is called Scripts and the other is called MAX Planck and MAX Planck is actually out of Germany. Scripts focuses on metabolic, vaccine immunology and degenerative diseases, whereas MAX Planck really focuses on neurological disorders. And so in total that biotech industry which I mentioned is very strong, has over 700 companies including international medical device private companies. 

Businesses are supported just like in Bahrain by very low taxes, access to three international airports, three ports and high speed rail called the Bright Line which allows for easy transportation between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and soon Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.

In addition, the cities, the county and the state offer incentives and we have a wide array of office and industrial space to accommodate new businesses and those in our backyard that want to expand most importantly, we're eager to engage in this partnership, share best practices and form new relationships with all of you. We look forward to working with the World Trade Center and appreciate the opportunity to continue this dialogue. 

Thank you.

Kelly Smallridge

Palm Beach Economic Development Board, President & CEO

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