Palm Beach County [Florida Trend]
(Florida Trend Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Regional Strengths
Palm Beach County encompasses 2,000 square miles - 2,500 if you include its part of Lake Okeechobee. Locals describe it in terms of four distinct regions: South, central, north and western. Each has its own set of attributes.
* Central County
Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Manalapan
Home to the county seat of West Palm Beach, central county is the nexus of regional business. County and city government headquarters, the School Board of Palm Beach County, the federal court, as well as the South Florida Water Management District - which controls the critical flow of water from the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee to the entire region - are here. Downtown will be the county's only stop for All Aboard Florida, the Miami-to-Orlando rail slated to begin service in 2015. The area also includes Palm Beach International Airport and the Port of Palm Beach.
Founded in 1913, the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches has some 1,600 members, including employers like agricultural giant Florida Crystals, regional law firms, banks and financial service providers and a host of companies drawn to a growing market. The central county also includes "The Island" - the Town of Palm Beach, which embodies the county's genteel and architectural history. Iconic properties include The Breakers (built in 1896 by Henry Flagler), the Flagler Museum / Whitehall (1902), Mar-a-Lago Club (built by Marjorie Merriweather Post and husband Edward F. Hutton in 1924-27 and acquired by Donald Trump in 1985), and the former Kennedy estate built by Addison Mizner, whose Mediterranean designs influence architecture throughout central and south county.
* South County
From the Broward County line north through Boca Raton, Delray Beach
The area is long portrayed as the home of Morty and Helen, Jerry's retired parents in the sitcom "Seinfeld," but county leaders say the stereotype of an aging demographic is dated. Boca Raton's median age is 41.1 years, and its business sectors speak more to technological evolution than retirement. Health care, technology and kindergarten through post graduate education are the area's three largest sectors. Area hospitals and employers work with local colleges and universities to educate some 40,000 students to match workplace needs in what one area executive has called "college town."
The area's tech heritage dates to IBM's construction of the personal computer here in the 1960s and '70s. Today, tech innovators include Scott Adams (Hiway Technologies), Dan Cane (Blackboard, Modernizing Medicine) and John Duffy (3Cinteractive). Other large employers include Office Depot, Bluegreen Corp., NCCI, Campus Management and SBA Communications, one of two cellular antenna companies based here, along with Global Tower Partners.
A new mayor in Boca Raton - former city council member and pro-business candidate Susan Haynie - was supported by developers with plans for condos in the east to luxury homes and rental apartments to the west. To the north, Delray Beach's historic Atlantic Avenue has thrived with tourists and south Florida locals drawn to its restaurants, shops and nearby beachfront in the "Village by the Sea." Throughout the region, the western suburbs continue to grow.
* North County
Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Singer Island, Jupiter, Tequesta north to the Martin County line
The 230 square miles of the northern county exemplify the growth the county has seen since Scripps Research Institute Florida arrived in 2004 and was subsequently joined by Max Planck Florida Institute. The biotech sector has been a continued catalyst for growth - as evidenced by recent land buys. Kolter Group in December spent $127.5 million on the 603-acre "Briger Tract" on the south side of Donald Ross Road near Scripps and Florida Atlantic University. Zoning could result in 2,700 homes, 450,000 square feet for retail and 2.4 million square feet of biotech space and office space - ideal for biotech spinoffs.
Developers and investors, including De Guardiola Development Ventures and Rendina Cos., have helped stamp the market with projects like Abacoa. The planned urban development includes Roger Dean Stadium - spring training home of the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals - golf courses, retail, office space and room for almost 7,000 homes. A public-private branding initiative from the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce will seek to lure businesses to the area, where newcomers will find supporting infrastructure, luxury retailers along the PGA Boulevard corridor and schools like the acclaimed Suncoast High School, the Honors College at FAU, Palm Beach State College and Nova Southeastern University.
North county also is home to John D. MacArthur Beach State Park and the Loxahatchee River. From there, the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean serve as waterfront for affluent communities Singer Island, Jupiter, Tequesta and Jupiter Inlet Colony - and the future home of the Riviera Beach Marina District, a multimillion-dollar redevelopment that earned overwhelming voter approval in a March referendum.
* Western County
Wellington, South Bay, Belle Glade, Pahokee
While Wellington is known as a center for equestrian sports, football dominates the rest of the region's sports scene, which has produced a host of NFL players including Reidel Anthony, Santonio Holmes, Fred Taylor and Deonte Thompson
Economically, the western reaches of Palm Beach County are the state's breadbasket. Some 400,000 acres - one-third of the county's land mass - is planted with sugar cane. Agribusiness also includes $2 billion in fresh sweet corn, rice, bell peppers, lettuce, radishes, Chinese vegetables, cucumbers and nurseries.
The agricultural area that encompasses Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee has long been one of the county's poorest regions, with high rates of crime and incarceration and unemployment levels typically at least twice as high as county averages. Some see a better future in non-agricultural development. In September 2013, Minto Communities Florida acquired the 3,800-acre Callery-Judge Grove, with plans for 6,500 homes, retail, offices, aerospace/technology research and development, and a baseball spring training facility with a 150-room hotel. Meanwhile, Florida Crystals has proposed the Intermodal Logistics Center, a distribution hub on 860 acres of former sugar cane field. If built, backers say it could create 20,000 jobs and be a key nexus for area shipping. The company is also active in alternative energy - its biomass facility uses leftover sugar cane fiber and recycled wood waste as fuel to produce clean energy.
Palm Beach County encompasses some 38 cities and has a population of at least 1.35 million. The population is projected to top 1.46 million by 2015 and 1.62 million by 2030.
* Among the larger communities:
> West Palm Beach, 103,038
> Boca Raton, 86,041
> Boynton Beach, 70,131> Delray Beach, 61,801
> Wellington, 58,108
> Jupiter, 56,577
> Palm Beach Gardens, 49,434
> Greenacres, 38,172
> Lake Worth, 35,555
> White, non-Hispanic, 58.7%
> Black, 18.2%
> Hispanic, 20.1%
> Over 65, 22.1% (vs. 18.2% statewide)
> Under 18, 20.1% (vs. 20.7% statewide)
> Population Growth, 2000-10: 16.7%
> High School graduate or higher among those 25 and older: 87.2% (85.8% statewide)
> Bachelor's degree or higher: 32.9% (26.2% statewide)
> Per capita: $31,743
> Median household: $51,278
* Retail Sales
> Per capita: $15,278
Palm Beach County is Florida's third-most-populous county.
> With some 2,500 square miles, it is the largest county southeast of the Mississippi River and is larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island.
> The county has two "coasts," the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Okeechobee -the largest freshwater lake in Florida.
> Palm Beach County is home to the largest organic farmer in the state and the largest biomass power plant in North American - both being Florida Crystals.
* Economic Trends
The county gained 12,000 non-agricultural jobs over the past year, making it among the top five regions in the state for job growth. The strongest growth was in trade, transportation and utilities, at a combined 4.6% over the past year. Also rising were education and health services, as well as professional and business services, government, leisure and hospitality and financial services. For six consecutive months, the county was among the top five of all 22 metro areas in Florida job growth, gaining 13,200 jobs over the year.
The county is generally regarded as a Democratic Party stronghold and voted for President Obama in 2008 (61.5%) and 2012 (58.6%). But the county's heritage and influx of new residents make it a mixed political bag, with pockets of both liberal and conservative affiliations. Some 10% of the state's registered Democrats over age 65 live in the county, while 7% of the state's registered Republicans over 65 live in the county. It's still known by some for its part in the 2000 presidential election of George W. Bush for ballot difficulties.
While sugarcane may be the best known crop in a county where almost 460,000 acres - more than a third of the county's land mass - are dedicated to agriculture, others includes fruits and vegetables, nurseries, livestock, forestry and hunting and fishing. Industry wages topped $316 million in 2011, and sales of $1.42 billion led the state and all counties east of the Mississippi River, making the county one of the country's 10 largest agribusiness counties. The county also has major sugar mills and refineries, vegetable packinghouses, horticultural nurseries, hydroponic growers, as well as the growing equestrian industry.
* Aviation / Aerospace / Engineering
Located largely in the western county, this cluster includes more than 600 businesses employing some 20,000 people who design, manufacture and assemble commercial, private and military aircraft. Companies include B/E Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky Aircraft's manufacturing and assembly operations and jet engine maker Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne, as well as a host of supporting trades, like maintenance, training and flight schools.
* IT / Telecommunications
Since the arrival of IBM in Boca Raton more than 40 years ago, Palm Beach County has remained a hub of the information technology and telecommunications industry. IBM's presence helped establish the infrastructure, knowledge base, workforce and regional collaboration that has turned the county - and south Florida - into what some have called "Silicon Beach." Leaders include mobile technology providers 3Cinteractive, C3/Cloud Computing Concepts, Cross Match Technologies, Campus Management and a host of software application developers, network management, storage providers, and wireless communication research and development companies serving the U.S. and the Americas.
* Corporate Headquarters
More than 40 companies have their headquarters in Palm Beach County, including six of the 50-largest private and six of the largest public companies in Florida, notes the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County. Companies include FPUNextEra Energy, NCCI, SBA Communications, B/E Aerospace and MDVIP, a personalized medicine provider and subsidiary of Procter & Gamble. Office Depot will remain in Boca Raton after its merger with OfficeMax. One of the largest corporate relocations was Jarden, owner of such brands as Sunbeam, Oster, Crock-Pot, Mr. Coffee and others, which moved to Boca Raton from Rye, N.Y. Most firms that move here do so for similar reasons: Low taxes, an educated workforce and easy transportation options. The county ranked No. 16 on a cost-comparison list of best places to open a headquarters, according to Boyd Co.
* Distribution Hub
Palm Beach County is a distribution hub for more than a dozen food service, retail and delivery companies. A short list includes Cheney Bros. (250,000 square feet) and Sysco Southeast Florida, both in Riviera Beach, as is a 50,000-sq.-ft. distribution center for FedEx. Publix has a 487,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Boynton Beach, discount grocer Aldi is building a 650,000-sq.-ft. distribution center and regional headquarters, and Jack Scalisi Wholesale Fruit & Produce has 19,000 square feet, both in Royal Palm Beach, as does American Tire Distributors, which chose the city for its 125,000-sq.-ft. warehouse. US Foods has 300,000 square feet, and pharmaceutical logistics firm Woodfield Distribution has 77,000 square feet, both in Boca Raton. Walgreens operates a 672,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Jupiter. Beverage company Brown Distributing has 92,000 square feet in West Palm Beach. The largest by far could be a planned Intermodal Logistics Center, or "inland port," cargo distribution hub planned for 860 acres in western Palm Beach County.
* Health Care
Some 1,500 health care-related businesses, including hospitals, biotech firms and ancillary firms, employ more than 50,000 countywide. The Health Care District's trauma system includes two designated trauma centers. Area educators, like Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College, and local hospitals, like Boca Raton Regional Hospital and JFK Medical Center, help train the health care workforce.
Growth is a common theme for the 14 hospitals across Palm Beach County. Boca Raton Regional Hospital is a 400-bed not-for-profit medical center with almost 3,000 employees and doctors - some of whom work with students at the FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine nearby. The hospital has several new projects under way.
In the western part of the county, Wellington Regional Medical Center has added 80 private rooms - with bedside computers, "smart beds" and update systems - and has invested $46 million in a new pavilion and lobby, says CEO Robbin Lee. The hospital has the only Level 3 neonatal intensive care units in the western community and a large OB practice with 37 beds in the "women's service" area, she says.
In addition to traditional practice areas, Cleveland Clinic Florida's Palm Beach Gardens location - one of two in the county - offers a dive medicine specialty for dive injuries ranging from ear and mask squeeze to sinus and lung barotraumas and decompression illness.
* Biotech/Life Sciences
Scripps Research Institute Florida and Max Planck Florida Institute have become synonymous with the biomedical research and life science community in Palm Beach County. Companies include CHS Pharma, BIOMET 3i, Biotest Pharmaceuticals, Dyadic International, Opko Health and Somahlution, which relocated here from Fargo, N.D., 2012.
* Film & Culture
Burt Reynolds - a former FSU running back and reportedly the first actor paid $1 million or more for a movie - is a Palm Beach County native. His family moved to Riviera Beach in the 1940s - where his father became police chief. Reynolds is credited with helping build Jupiter's cultural infrastructure - and role as a filming destination. His "B.L. Stryker" TV drama was filmed locally, and its reported $48 million in local spending was the most ever in the county for any film or series. Reynolds opened the Institute for Film & Theatre in Lake Park.
Tourism in Palm Beach County drives some $5 billion in annual spending, from vacationers, businesses, conventions and annual events alike. It supports 45,000 area jobs, generates some $30 million in bed-tax revenue and accounts for lodging sales of $623 million. Travel in 2013 was up 4.5% over the previous year.
Sports tourism plays a big role. Last year, the USA Field Hockey brought its national festival - the largest amateur sporting events in the world - to the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Some 260 teams, 4,400 athletes and 8,500 visitors came for the five-day event, generating 12,000 hotel-room-nights at 50 area hotels, 4,400 car rental days, 4,000 airline flights and $9 million in direct visitor spending, according to the Palm Beach County Sports Commission. More than 10,000 seasonal visitors descend upon the polo ground in Wellington each year for the Winter Equestrian Festival. Baseball fans migrate to north county and Roger Dean Stadium for Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals spring training. Golfers will find plenty of courses - and two PGA events held locally each year.
The county has 47 miles of Atlantic beaches. Yachters power into marinas for stopovers to and from the Northeast, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and the area's waters attract divers and anglers as well.
Convention and meeting planners will find 16,000 rooms in more than 200 hotels and more than 1 million square feet of meeting space from The Breakers in Palm Beach to the Boca Raton Resort & Club in south county to more than a dozen other niche properties with more than 5,000 square feet of space.
"Tourism is one of the main clusters of economic impact here in the county," says Glenn Jergensen, executive director of the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council. The council oversees other area tourism-related businesses, including the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County and Discover Palm Beach County (formerly the Convention & Visitors Bureau).
The Palm Beach County Film & Television Commission fields dozens of events, filmings and casting calls annually. Last year, Nat Geo Wild filmed an episode of its "Jobs That Bite!" series at the venerable Lion Country Safari, a regional icon founded in 1967 that claims to be America's first "cageless zoo."
The county has seen growth among international travelers, especially those flying into Miami. With the opening of the Palm Beach Outlets in West Palm Beach, tourism officials hope to make the county a stop for domestic and international travelers in search of outlet-mall shopping trips.
* Marine Industries
The marine industry - including about 40,000 boats registered here - accounts for some $1.35 billion in annual impact from retail and wholesale trade, construction and maintenance and other services and support almost 20,000 jobs from the Atlantic to Lake Okeechobee and waterways in between, according to the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County. The Palm Beach International Boat Show in West Palm Beach showcases some $350 million in vessels annually and attracts some 50,000 a year. One major player is the Rybovich yacht service center, where maintenance and refurbishing jobs on megayachts easily can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
* Banking / Financial / Professional Services
While business is strong from Boca Raton north to Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, downtown West Palm Beach has grown into the county's banking, financial services and legal hub. Leading law firms Gunster; Ackerman Link & Sartory; and Broad and Cassel are here. PNC bank based its regional headquarters on Datura Street here several years ago.
A recent addition to the industries targeted by county leaders is money managers, ranging from hedge funds to private equity to investment managers. Monty Agarwal brought hedge fund MA Capital Management to Palm Beach Gardens a decade ago. Among more recent arrivals are Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors, a $1.6-billion real estate arm of the Los Angeles-based private equity and hedge fund. Al Rabil, managing partner and CEO with the firm, decided to relocate from Long Island to Boca Raton last year. "If you're looking for talented people, it's a lot easier to recruit to Boca Raton than to Armonk," he says. "My people quickly went from 'Why?' to 'Why didn't we do this five years ago?' "
* Real Estate
Two projects promise to infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into the Palm Beach County waterfront - and redefine the shore's core. In March, Riviera Beach voters approved a referendum essentially green-lighting public-private redevelopment in the city's marina district. The nod likely will jump-start a $250-million waterfront and municipal marina project along its U.S. 1/Broadway corridor - an area beset by blight and crime.
Planners from Viking Developers, the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency envision a regional hot spot a quarter-mile from the Port of Palm Beach. It will feature dockside dining, shops, a boardwalk promenade, an event center and improved Bicentennial Park, Later, a marina with a dock master, fuel service and boat rentals is planned for the second phase.
In a related move, Rybovich - a 95-year-old marine institution purchased in 2004 by H. Wayne Huizenga Jr. is driving jobs back to the West Palm Beach Intracoastal. Working with nearby landowner and developer Related Group, Huizenga's 10-year plan calls for six condominium towers with more than 1,000 luxury units.
* A Secure Home
One niche cluster in Palm Beach County is the security-related industry. Home and commercial alarm company Tyco Integrated Security is in Boca Raton, as is cash logistics provider GardaWorld Cash Services and correctional, detention, and community reentry service provider GEO Group. Jarden, maker of the First Alert home safety brand, relocated to Boca Raton recently. At the county's northern border in Jupiter is manned security and technology provider G4S Americas.
* Downtowns Come Alive
Resurgent urbanism has fueled regrowth in downtowns across the county. In Boca Raton, Mizner Park is central to the city's revived downtown corridor. Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach bustles day and nigh-pin a place Rand McNally in 2012 called "the most fun small town in the United States."
Farther north, in Lake Worth, Lake and Lucerne avenues off Dixie Highway are home to restaurants, pubs and shops.
West Palm Beach has one of the county's best downtowns, with Clematis Street and the nearby CityPlace offering both dining and retail. Clematis, the city's original thoroughfare, blossomed 20 years ago after decades of neglect. With its debut in 2000, CityPlace has become a hub of activity and part of a mixed-use downtown that draws patrons from across south Florida.
The Tri-Rail rail line operated by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority travels 71 miles, hitting 18 stations from West Palm Beach to near Miami International Airport. Along the way, it connects with Amtrak stations, Miami-Dade's Metrorail, and a variety of public transportation options to carry passengers into downtown areas. In 2014, it celebrated 25 years in service.
Four county-run airports, from Palm Beach International Airport to three general aviation facilities, plus the state-run Boca Raton Airport, meet a variety of needs. Some 6 million passengers annually fly through PBI. With 12 airlines, it features 97 daily nonstop flights to cities throughout the US, Canada and the Caribbean. The latest option: American Airlines non-stop to Los Angeles. The facility was named third-best airport in the U.S. and sixth-best in the world by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
Three general aviation airports include the North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport in north county. Passengers on both private planes and jet aircraft use the facility when traveling to Florida Research Park, Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens. South of PBI in Lantana is Palm Beach County Park Airport, which serves Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton and welcomes propeller aircraft and helicopters. The Palm Beach County Glades Airport to the west is used for recreational and sport flying and parachute operations.
The airports and seaports are linked by I-95, Florida's Turnpike, the railways and several east-west thoroughfares. The big hope, though, is for the Intermodal Logistics Center, or ILC. This cargo distribution hub is planned for 860 acres of former sugar cane field between Belle Glade and South Bay near Lake Okeechobee in western Palm Beach County. Proposed by local agricultural conglomerate Florida Crystals, the inland port once built could create 20,000 jobs in an area beset by the county's highest unemployment.
* Port and Rail
Some 341,000 passengers sail from the Port of Palm Beach each year. But the port is better known as a vital regional shipping hub. As part of the Miami Customs District, the Port of Palm Beach's commercial freight business makes it the state's fourth-busiest of 15 deep-water ports and the 18th-busiest container port in the country. It has an on-dock rail, and five miles of track owned by the port provide access to Florida East Coast Railway, CSX and Norfolk Southern rail lines.
Along those tracks roll 2 million tons of cargo a year, including containerized, refrigerated, bulk, and roll-on/roll-off and heavy lift loads. Some 80% of the loads are for export. In fact, 60% of the cargo delivered to the Bahamas comes from the Port of Palm Beach.
* FAU Research Park
The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University on the outskirts of Boca Raton is home to 22 startup and established firms. The park's incubator houses another 35. Companies there include Modernizing Medicine, a health records company founded by Daniel Cane, creator of $1.6-billion education platform Blackboard; Pace Americas, a billion-dollar division of the global broadband, satellite and cable service provider; and MobileHelp, a mobile tracking service. Sandow Media publishes a string of magazines, including NewBeauty, Luxe Interiors and Worth. The company last year moved from 7,000 to 30,000 square feet in the park.
The park also is the Boca Raton home of the Institute for the Commercialization of Research, an organization created to help monetize innovations, and the Tech Runway, an MIT-inspired entrepreneur mentorship program. Synergies with FAU include professor involvement and student internships - whether business students working with People's Trust Insurance or those in engineering and computer science disciplines exploring new technology.
Employment at the park is just under 1,000, with an average salary of $68,000, significantly above the county average, says Andrew Duffell, the park's president and CEO. With FAU's presence in north county - home to Scripps Research Institute Florida and Max Planck Florida Institute - the park helps create a critical mass to nurture innovation throughout the region.
* Natural Areas
Local destinations include the 79-acre Peanut Island at the mouth of the Lake Worth Inlet, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, John D. MacArthur State Park, Grassy Waters Preserve, J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area, Coral Cove Park, McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary and Lake Trail on Palm Beach Island.
What started as a small event with Prince Charles and other polo players in the 1980s today has transformed Wellington in western Palm Beach County into arguably the equestrian capital of the world. Case in point: The Winter Equestrian Festival. The annual, 16-week event attracts some 10,000 riders, supporters and fans and 6,500 horses that relocate to the area - and generates some $200 million a year in economic impact, says Mark Bellissimo, managing partner with Wellington Equestrian Partners. Insiders say Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Springsteen, a host of CEOs and hedge fund managers - even Russian oligarchs - are known to attend events here or own homes here. "It's the largest aggregation of wealth anywhere in the world for a sporting event," Bellissimo says.
Besides the four minor league teams and two MLB teams that train at Jupiter's Roger Dean Stadium, the county has:
> Football: The Florida Atlantic University Owls Division 1 college football team in 2012 debuted a 30,000-seat football stadium. This December, the facility will join the ranks of holiday season bowl hosts with the Boca Raton Bowl.
> Golf: Golf Digest calls Palm Beach County "Golf Mecca." Along with more than 170 public and private golf courses countywide,-both the Honda Classic and Allianz Championship PGA tournaments are played here.
> Fishing: Water sports enthusiasts can dive, sail, paddleboard or surf along the Atlantic and fish both in the ocean and in Lake Okeechobee.
* Economic Development Agencies
Over the past five years, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County says it helped drive some $493 million in capital investment, create more than 9,000 direct jobs with salaries averaging $57,000 and drive economic impact topping $3.47 billion. The county's economic development community, which includes the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, various city groups and a freestanding division of Florida Power & Light has focused on attracting headquarters and specialty areas like financial services.
Among recent successes:
> The retention of tech firm TouchSuite, an Inc. 500 fast-growing company with 47 jobs that and plans to add another 50
> Cancer Treatment Centers of America and its 225 full-time staff, who are relocating from Chicago
> Office Depot's decision in late 2013 to stay in the county after its merger with OfficeMax
> Contact center and technology company Etech Global Services' decision to move from Texas to Riviera Beach. In exchange for an incentives package, the company will invest $2.5 million and hire 200 employees.
* Workforce Training
CareerSource Palm Beach County works with economic development agencies, planners, governments and employers to help match trends and needs to workforce abilities. In 2013, the organization - formerly Workforce Alliance - helped some 30,000 residents, including the disabled and veterans, to find employment. The tally in annual wages: $489 million. Both represent records for the third consecutive program year. Also a record: The $6 million in training grants CareerSource awarded to colleges and vocational programs in its last program year. It was up three-fold from the previous program year.
Across the county, 26 adult education centers and community schools provide vocational and occupational training to more than 300,000 each year. Career and vocational training is available within five miles of every county resident.
* Targeted Marketing
In February 2013, Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, penned a letter to 30 hedge fund managers in the Northeast telling them about life in the county. She spoke of the great schools, beautiful weather - especially compared to the Northeast in winter - and the low cost of living and taxes that could save them thousands on income taxes each year.
Apparently, she touched a nerve. Smallridge, a county native, fielded calls from money managers - and a host of media. CNBC and the New York Post interviewed her. "It caught the eyes of everybody in New York, New Jersey and Boston," she says now.
With no big-budget marketing campaign, Smallridge filled her calendar with meetings and has lured a host of hedge funds and money managers. To Smallridge, it's not what's changing in Florida but what's changed elsewhere that's making execs take a second look - especially at a place where many already own second homes.
"With higher taxes elsewhere," she says, "the odds are they'll start looking here."
* Travel and Dining
The county's movers and shakers network and negotiate at restaurants including Taboo, Cafe Boulud and Flagler Steakhouse in Palm Beach, Rusticio Italiano in Lake Worth or Guanabanas on the waterfront in Jupiter.
Other favorite haunts include The River House in Palm Beach Gardens or La Sirena and City Cellar in West Palm Beach. Along Delray Beach's Atlantic Avenue - itself a thriving and historic dining and retail, stretch between I-95 and the Atlantic Ocean - restaurants like 32 East and The Office offer varied menus and alfresco people-watching options. Max's Grill and Truluck's in Boca Raton's upscale shopping promenade Mizner Park are south county favorites, as are J. Alexander's or Abe & Louie's on Glades Road. Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar is a lively Mexican-themed eatery with 225 varieties of tequila and guacamole made table side.
* Servin' the Fare
Reid Boren is a lifer in the restaurant business. His grandfather was in the trade in New York, and today, the progeny continues in the business.
He's a general partner in Titou Management, a holding company for several well-regarded Palm Beach County restaurants and bakeries. PB Catch seafood restaurant and Patrick Leze patisserie, named for the respected French pastry chef, both are on Sunrise Avenue in Palm Beach. Pistache French bistro and Paneterie next door are on the West Palm Beach waterfront on Clematis Street.
Thierry Beaud, formerly with The Breakers, is "arguably one of the best restaurateurs in Palm Beach County," boasts Boren, who arrived in Palm Beach County in 1989, attended Rollins College in Winter Park and returned to launch his career.
Quickly, his places have become favorites for locals, leaders and tourists alike.
"You can have the Palm Beach establishment sitting in a jacket and people in shorts at the bar - and both feel equally at home," says Boren, whose latest project is a departure of sorts: Biscayne Beach, a 51-story condominium planned for Miami's bay front.
* Palm Beach + Society = Cultural Offerings
Henry Flagler's railway brought more than development to the Palm Beaches It brought high society. Flagler's rails brought the Astors and Vanderbilts. It brought Marjorie Merriweather Post and husband Edward F. Hutton, who built Mar-a-Lago, the home and 20-acre estate now owned by Donald Trump.
Later, John Lennon of the Beatles owned a home here. Camelot wintered here, and William Kennedy Smith, Sen. Ted Kennedy's nephew, was arrested and tried here. Prince Charles resided in Palm Beach while playing polo. Socialite and philanthropist Mollie Wilmot in 1984 garnered global headlines when she served sailors caviar, finger sandwiches and coffee after their freighter crashed into her Palm Beach mansion's seawall.
Many shop nearby on Worth Avenue, named one of the three "most iconic" streets in America.
The Palm Beach Daily News' "The Sheet" chronicles society and events, and the calendar pages of Palm Beach Society are thick with events between November and April.
Even the National Enquirer, which has covered major local socialite and celebrity events, is based nearby in Boca Raton. Lois Pope, widow of founder Generoso Pope, is a well-known socialite and significant area philanthropist. But she's also established organizations and encouraged others to support veterans, students, humanitarian, healthcare and animal causes.
"Palm Beachers are some of the most giving people in the world," she says. "Behind all of the glitz and glamour of the society events are hardworking individuals whose mission is to help others."
The human infrastructure of wealth eventually brought with it a host of cultural and philanthropic activity. Palm Beach County today has more than 200 world-class groups serving up more than 42,000 cultural offerings a year. The estimated audience is 3.3 million a year with an economic impact of $417 million annually, according to the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. Some 5,400 are employed countywide at places like Kravis Center, the Maltz Theater, Dramaworks, the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. The area touts itself as "Florida's Cultural Capital."
"The cultural industry grew by 20% over the last five years, a remarkable fact given the nation's economic state," says Rena Blades, Cultural Council CEO. This came in no small part by changing newcomers' perspective and creating donors, volunteers and leaders. "We're transforming people to become givers. They really see this as their community, not just a place they hang out a few months a year."
As Jeri Muoio, a transplant from Boston and New York City and now mayor of West Palm Beach, put it, "There are so many opportunities, if you're bored in Palm Beach County, it's your own fault."
Residents' generosity extends beyond cultural events. In the first nine months of its fiscal year, Boca Raton Regional Hospital Foundation raised more than $30 million. This comes atop the $25 million gift in 2012 from Billi and Bernie Marcus, chairman of the Marcus Foundation and co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot, and numerous gifts from local insurance executive Christine E. Lynn - the benefactor of Lynn University.
FAU's medical school is named for the Schmidt family, longtime residents and significant donors to more than 60 local causes.
The grand dame of local giving, though, could be Henrietta, Countess de Hoernle. The Boca Raton resident's name has become synonymous with giving. She has donated more than $40 million to area causes - and inspired countless others to give both money and time.
Donations of dollars and devotion have made a difference throughout the county, says Bonnie S. Kaye with Kaye Communications and longtime volunteer with area causes.
"It doesn't matter what you support," says Kaye, who educates local businesses and clients on the benefits of "give-get" relationships and teaches philanthropy at the Young Entrepreneur's Academy. "Just get in that habit because the next generation needs a model."
* Cultural Institutions: A Short List
Looking for outings or causes in Palm Beach County? Consider these:
> Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
> Art in Public Places
> Boca Raton Museum of Art
> Caldwell Theatre Co.
> Cruzan Amphitheatre
> Flagler Museum
> Florida Stage
> Hibel Museum of Art
> Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
> Lake Worth Playhouse
> Loxahatchee River Historical Museum
> Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
> Mounts Botanical Garden
> Norton Museum of Art
> Old School Square Cultural Arts Center
> Palm Beach International Film Festival
> Palm Beach Photographic Centre
> South Florida Science Center
> SunFest waterfront music and arts festival in downtown West Palm Beach
The School District of Palm Beach County was Florida's only urban district to receive an "A" rating for eight consecutive years and was named a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
For the 2012 academic year, 10,000 seniors graduated, for a 79.8% graduation rate - the second highest in the state and eighth-best in the nation, according to Education Week. Nine in 10 graduates said they intended to attend college. Of those who attended college, 5,087 received scholarships totaling $76 million, according to county statistics.
The county also has 137 private and parochial schools, from kindergarten to senior high, with an enrollment of 26,868 students, notes Private School Review.
The county school district has 1,200 partnerships with businesses in banking, industry and biotech, generating $4 million for students and schools. With its high-tech background - IBM created the personal computer in Boca Raton more than a generation ago - it's no surprise that strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs are found here. For example, Don Estridge High Tech Middle School in Boca Raton uses technology infusion to integrate technology as a way to learn. Students regularly use spreadsheets and software for projects and teachers employ student-response devices, smart boards, wireless tablets and the video creation/streaming platform to enhance education.
Palm Beach County high schools Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr., an acclaimed arts academy in West Palm Beach, and Suncoast Community High School, a magnet school in Riviera Beach, were ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, in Florida.
* Higher Education
The county is home to the following colleges and universities:
> Barry University (branch), Palm Beach Gardens. The private Catholic institution's School of Professional and Career Education offers bachelor's, master's and post-baccalaureate certificates in more than a dozen areas.
> Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Part of the State University System, it offers undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs. The school hosts its Honors College in north county.
> Keiser University, West Palm Beach. The private, not-for-profit school, based in Fort Lauderdale, offers career-focused degrees in business, criminal justice, nursing and other fields.
> Lincoln College of Technology and Florida Culinary Institute, West Palm Beach. Lincoln College offers associate's, continuing education and diploma programs designed to meet local needs. It also offers culinary arts, business management, dental, automotive tech, HVAC, medical assisting, cosmetology and hair design.
> Lynn University, Boca Raton. The private, co-ed school offers 26 bachelor's degrees for traditional students, and 20 bachelor's and certificate programs for evening attendance, and 23 master's and graduate certificate programs. It also offers an Ed.D. One in four students hails from outside the U.S.
> Northwood University, West Palm Beach. The private, non-profit institution offers business-related bachelor's and master's programs in such areas as business, advertising, finance, entertainment, sports management and hotel and restaurant management for traditional and working students.
> Nova Southeastern University, Palm Beach Gardens. The school's 75,000-sq.-ft. satellite center (the main campus is outside Fort Lauderdale) serves more than 1,300 students in the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast with bachelor's, graduate and doctoral programs.
> Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach. An interdenominational Christian university founded in 1968, the school offers 48 undergraduate majors and graduate and professional degree programs in business administration, counseling, leadership and pharmacy.
> Palm Beach State College, Lake Worth. With five campuses and satellite locations, the school serves almost 48,000 students with associate's and bachelor's programs and works closely with area career organizations to align courses to business needs. Palm Beach State College awarded the 11th-most associate degrees in the U.S., according to Community College Week.
> South University, West Palm Beach. The school offers bachelor's and master's degrees and career and personal development programs in business, health care, nursing and legal studies.
In the northern part of the county, where Max Planck Florida Institute and Scripps Research Institute reside on the FAU campus, collaboration is vital to shared success, says Eliah Watlington, associate provost. Along with being the exclusive home to FAU's Harriett L. Wilkes Honors College, in 2013, the school moved six biology and psychology department professors, their equipment and about 40 undergraduate and graduate students and staff to the campus. The advantages are pervasive throughout the relationship, adds Rod Murphey, FAU chairman of biological sciences and director of the Jupiter Life Science Initiative. One professor created a spinoff company for a drug discovery related to stroke treatment. Students, including those in the Honors College who aren't studying science - though 75% do - are introduced to the STEM pursuits.
Among the top degrees earned by Palm Beach area college graduates (2012):
> Health professions, 4,032
> Liberal arts, general studies and humanities, 3,861
> Business, management, marketing 3,344
> Education, 948
> Personal and culinary services, 894
> Homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting, 750
> Social sciences, 575
> Psychology, 539
> Biological and biomedical technologies/technicians, 423
> Sciences, 400
Source: CareerSource of Palm Beach County
Lights ...Camera ... High School
G-Star School of the Arts in Palm Springs, just south of West Palm Beach, offers its students typical high school academic fare along with an International Baccalaureate program if they qualify and want in.
But its electives include classes such as "Playwriting" "Acting for the Camera," "Film" and "3D Animation." Among its classrooms is a well-equipped screening room. The entire campus, in fact, functions as a working movie studio where students produce a feature-length movie each year.
On a golf-cart tour of the school, the school's founder, CEO and CFO Greg Hauptner, drives past classrooms and a cafeteria before motoring over to what looks like a large warehouse. Once inside, Hauptner points to shelves lined with paintbrushes, jars and chalky molds of human faces that are used in film projects or the school's popular annual "X-Scream" Halloween Haunted House. "This is where they do prosthetics and build faces," he says.
The warehouse sits across the street from a cavernous, $5-million, 12,000-sq.-ft., 45-feet-high soundstage - and the school's showpiece. The studio, built in 2010, gives the school bragging rights - it's the only performing arts school in the country with its own soundstage - and provides students with a true-to-life venue where they can gain practical experience in movie-making.
The soundstage is also a business that Hauptner uses to help fund the school. So far, G-Star has rented the soundstage and other campus facilities - encompassing a total of more than 100,000 square feet of space - to more than 60 musicians and filmmakers, including singer Celine Dion, who owns a home on nearby Jupiter Island in Martin County, and for a Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham movie. Dion used the soundstage to practice her elaborate show at Caesar's Palace under the same lighting and film a few behind-the-scenes shots.
G-Star is able to offer filmmakers and musicians two major incentives. The facility is only one of two in the state eligible for a 5% tax credit because it qualifies as a motion picture studio. In addition, G-Star offers discounts on its daily $3,500 rate if users allow the school's students to participate in projects.
Hauptner, 67, is a former hair stylist and salon owner who has lived in Florida since 1958. He worked on the hair of stars, including Kirstie Alley, Charlton Heston and Farrah Fawcett.
Success in the salon business and his association with film actors led him to a venture in financing movies. But he failed to generate a blockbuster. He sold his salons after getting divorced and started a TV production-training program in West Palm Beach to help his son learn the business. After PBS picked up a pilot of a children's show that the program produced, a friend suggested offhandedly that he start a charter school focused on movie and TV production.
"I didn't even know what a charter school was," Hauptner says. He took a three-hour course on charter schools offered by the county and submitted an application with a business plan. He found available space at a vacant Palm Beach County Water Utilities office, which he purchased using $5 million in tax-exempt and taxable private-activity revenue bonds.
The school opened in 2003 with 150 students and 10 faculty and staff members. Since then, it has grown to 1,100 students, 105 faculty and staff and a waiting list of up to 2,000 kids each year. The school gets "students applying from all over the world," Hauptner says. "From South Korea, the Netherlands, Brazil, from Germany and Dubai."
Hauptner says he keeps the school afloat in part by maintaining a lean staff - he has two administrative assistants and employs six administrative personnel and 13 support staff. His wife, Dawn, whom he met and married after she moved to Palm Beach County in 2010 so her three children could attend the school, helps with volunteer fundraising.
Revenue remains a challenge, however. Hauptner says that the soundstage generates only slightly more than it costs to run. He hopes to raise at least $8 million to pay for new buildings that will feature World War II-artifacts and interactive exhibits, along with classrooms and interactive learning centers.
Meanwhile, the state's cut in per-pupil funding in 2011 forced Hauptner to deplete a rainy-day fund he had built up, he says, and hurt the school's bond rating. A 2013 Standard & Poor's report criticized the school for "weak financial policies and reporting" and also raised the question of succession planning for Hauptner, whom it called the school's "dynamic leader."
Hauptner says he has trained the school's principal, Kim Collins, to be his replacement until the board finds a permanent potential replacement. He says the school is too new to have generated a lot of alumni success stories. "Nobody has turned out to be a famous star," he says. "But we have a lot of kids working in the industry," including Dawn's daughter, Courtney Lillard, who after graduating in 2012 got a job touring Asia and South America with "Disney on Ice." Dawn says "she was cast right out of high school for one of the lead roles."
> Rated "A" by the state
> Graduates 94% of its students within four years
> 423 students are on free or reduced lunch, about 38% of the student body versus 55% for the district.
> 69% of 12th-grade students took the SAT test in 2012, averaging a combined score of 1485, slightly higher than the district average of 1424.
> 267 students took an AP test in 2012. Of those, 220 received a grade of "3" or higher on a five-point scale.
* Fabiola Brumley
Palm Beach County President / Bank of America
Fabiola Brumley's market area includes Florida and stretches up the east coast across 10 states to Maryland. Growth in Palm Beach County has been keeping Brumley busy, and the bank is trying to capitalize on the county's proximity to key corridors like Latin America along with European travel and investment. The state's favorable tax climate helps, she says. "That tends to attract businesses from outside the state." Raised in Broward County with a bachelor's and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Brumley has been with the bank more than 30 years and sits on almost a dozen non-profit boards.
* Michael Daszkal
Managing Partner, Co-founder / Daszkal Bolton CPAs
Michael Daszkal and Jeff Bolton opened their CPA firm in 1992. Today, the firm has three offices, more than 115 people and 2013 revenue of $16 million. A Detroit native, Daszkal followed his family to Boca Raton after college. The firm serves leading law firms, investors and some of the area's biotech companies. Daszkal is on the boards of both the Florida Atlantic University College of Business and its Research Park. Bolton died in a swimming accident in the Bahamas in 2013, but his legacy lives on - in the systems he put in place, and the growth the firm enjoys. "His name comes up every day," Daszkal says.
* Wendy Sartory Link
Managing Partner / Ackerman Link & Sartory
Born at Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach, educated in area schools and now a north county resident, Wendy Sartory Link is chair-elect of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. She's on her second term on the board of trustees of Palm Beach State College and serves on the State University System board of governors. "Wherever you fall on the socioeconomic line, education is going to benefit you. I really want it to be as strong as it can be."
* H. William Perry
Managing Shareholder / Gunster
A county resident since he was 16, Bill Perry enjoys having a hand in the county's transformation. Among the deals Perry has helped steer: Kolter Homes' purchase of 600 acres, the opening of the Palm Beach Outlets mall and Rybovich Marina owner Wayne Huizenga Jr.'s planned transformation of the West Palm Beach shoreline. The deals and the growth they represent, he says, "are really moving the county up a notch." Perry is also active statewide, flying his Cessna 182 to business meetings all around Florida.
* Thomas Lynch
Owner, President / Plastridge Insurance Agency
In 1983, Tom Lynch joined the Bethesda Hospital Foundation and soon became head of the Delray Chamber of Commerce. In 1985 - a time when his city was "a mess, scary with drug deals and crime" - he was picked to chair its Community Redevelopment Agency. He soon served three terms as mayor, during which the city was named an All America City. He served two terms, including chair, of Palm Beach County Schools. Today, the father of six and grandfather of 10 is the mayor of the Village of Golf, a 155-home enclave just west of Delray Beach.
* Must Know Contacts
> Manuel Almira: Executive director, Port of Palm Beach
> Laurel Baker: Executive director, Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce
> Mark Bellissimo: CEO, Equestrian Sport Productions
> Rena Blades: CEO/president, Cultural Council of Palm Beach County
> Bill Bone: Founding partner, Larmoyeux & Bone
> Cressman Bronson: Regional president, PNC Bank
> Tony Brown: Executive director, Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
> Daniel Cane: Founder/president/CEO, Modernizing Medicine
> Linda Cartlidge: Principal, Suncoast Community High School
> Lenny Chesal: Executive vice president, Host.net
> Raphael Clemente: Executive director, West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority
> Rachel Docekal: CEO, Hanley Center Foundation
> John Duffy: Founder/CEO, 3Cinteractive
> George Elmore: President, Hardrives Inc.
> Alfonso and Pepe Fanjul: Owners, Fanjul Corp., Florida Crystals
> Jerry Fedele: President/CEO, Boca Raton Regional Hospital
> William M.B. Fleming Jr.: President, Palm Beach Atlantic University
> Dennis Gallon: President, Palm Beach State College
> Dennis Grady: President/CEO, Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches
> Ryan Hallihan: General manager, CityPlace
> Christine D. Hanley: Partner, FordHarrison
> Rick Hayduk: President, Boca Raton Resort & Club
> Bob Healey: Chairman/CEO, Viking Developers
> Bradley Hurlburt: CEO, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties
> Glenn Jergensen: Executive director, Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council
> Bobby Julien: CEO, Kolter Group
> Belinda Keiser: Vice chancellor, Keiser University
> John Kelly: President, Florida Atlantic University
> Beth Kigel: President/CEO, Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce
> Rex Kirby: President/general manager, southeast region, Suffolk Construction
> Christina Lambert: Executive director, Leadership Palm Beach County
> Don Langdon: Managing broker, Douglas Elliman
> Patricia Lebow: Managing partner, Broad and Cassel
> Paul Leone: President, The Breakers, Flagler System Inc.
> Paul O. Lopez: Director, Tripp Scott
> Daniel Martell: President/CEO, Economic Council of Palm Beach County
> Troy McLellan: President/CEO, Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce
> Judith Mitchell: CEO, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
> Jeri Muoio: Mayor, West Palm Beach
> Barbara Suflas Noble: Vice president for advancement, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience
> Carey O'Donnell: President/creative director, O'Donnell Agency
> Harvey E. Oyer III: Partner, Shutts & Bowen
> Bob Parsons: President/CEO, Oxbridge Academy
> Ron Pertnoy: Principal, Shapiro-Pertnoy Cos.
> Jorge Pesquera: President/CEO, Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau
> Lynn Pitts: Director of economic development, FPL
> Bruce V. Pelly: Director of airports, Palm Beach County
> Pam Rauch: Vice president, development and external affairs, Florida Power & Light
> Richard M. Rendina: Chairman/CEO, Rendina Cos
> Kevin M. Ross: President, Lynn University
> Jonathan R. Satter: Principal/managing director, Avison Young
> Steven Shapiro: Principal, Shapiro-Pertnoy Cos.
> Eric Silagy: President, Florida Power & Light
> Kelly Smallridge: President, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County
> Lauren Spector: CFO, Quantachrome Instruments
> Jeffrey A. Stoops: President/CEO, SBA Communications
> Lynne Wines: President/CEO, First Southern Bank
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