By Tim Vanderhoof, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Enterprise Florida
2016 has certainly been a year to remember. The United Kingdom decided to end its membership of the European Union, David Cameron dramatically quit frontline politics, and Theresa May became Britain’s second female prime minister.
Across the pond in the US, we haven’t exactly had a quiet year either. A hard-fought election campaign between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton resulted in a change in administration with Republican Trump becoming the US’s 45th President.
Clearly, 2017 is set to be a year of enormous change, and businesses are all too aware of the uncertainty change brings. There may indeed be challenges ahead, but there are also opportunities. Businesses around the world are not only facing up to the challenges of a new world order, but actively seeking new opportunities to help make their businesses prosper in a world which is increasingly rejecting the status quo.
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This gives previously unconsidered business locations an opportunity, and companies in the UK an alternative to consider when looking to either re-locate or expand their international footprint.
The Wall Street of the south
Miami is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the USA. From Joe’s Stone Crab to Soho Beach House, its attractions are well known and millions are familiar with the city through movies and television shows such as Miami Vice. What is less known, however, is Miami’s growing reputation as a centre for financial services, establishing itself as second to only Manhattan as the US’s financial hub.
Florida’s proximity to and cultural connections with Latin America have also helped make it an international banking centre. There are 141 commercial banks with $140 billion in assets – and a growing private equity cluster with more than 160 firms. Eighteen international banks have headquarters in the state.More than 351,000 professionals work in Florida’s financial and insurance industries.
Financial companies are relocating to Miami to pay less in taxes and base themselves in a glamorous and exciting city, and hedge funds have an increasingly large presence in South Florida. Neither Miami nor Florida has an income tax, and the state’s per-capita tax rate is the USA’s 4th-lowest. Miami has allowed massive housing and office growth in the Brickell neighbourhood. The city also comes with a growing multicultural diaspora, increasingly attracting expats from Latin America that help grow ties with the region. Two-thirds of residents speak Spanish as their first language in this gateway to Latin America.
The right environment for business
The United States is still the world’s largest economy. Yet what might come as a revelation is that if Florida were its own nation, it would rank as the 18th largest economy in the world.
Some 1.7 million British tourists in 2015 alone visited the ‘sunshine state’. Yet away from Miami’s nightclubs and restaurants, thrilling roller coasters of Universal Studios, and Disney World’s characters lies a state which is consistently ranked one of the best states for business. Florida is committed to keeping regulatory requirements and business taxes low. That, along with a strong economy and zero personal state income tax, makes it a great place to do business.
As the world shapes itself following a new US president and an EU without Britain, it will be those businesses that can demonstrate flexibility, strategy and foresight that will be best placed to profit in our increasingly globalised world.
It’s true that Florida is the sunshine state. But Florida is also the place where financial services are converging, and has so far attracted dozens of British businesses to set up in Florida. For businesses in the UK, Florida might be the business location they hadn’t even thought of.