*by Karen Lustgarten
Which of the 38 cities in Palm Beach County attracts the highest number of corporate relocations? More than half selected the city of Boca Raton to establish headquarters. According to Andy Thomson, newly-elected member of the Boca Raton City Council, that amounts to more than 30 international corporations that have moved into or expanded in Boca Raton.
The Council member cites several reasons for Boca’s big-business boom. With the establishment in 2014 of the Office of Economic Development funded by the city, attracting corporations became a priority. “The marketing strategy and message is ‘Boca is open for business; we are serious about helping corporations thrive here.’” Technology and health are among the top sectors relocating to Boca, such as Modernizing Medicine and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Mr. Thomson is quick to add that marketing “our unique quality of life” is an easy sell. The obvious attributes include: warm weather, beaches, sunshine and leisure lifestyle throughout Florida, along with no state income tax and corporate tax incentives. Among Boca Raton’s unique qualities attracting employees and businesses, he cites: an executive airport for corporate jets with a new U.S. Customs facility, quality public and private schools, good housing, low crime and 46 parks. “We are a city within a park,” he says, “and we take our green spaces seriously.”
The two local colleges—Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University–funnel a tech-ready workforce into job openings at area corporations. “This helps transition graduates to nearby jobs so there is less of a brain drain,” he said.
One marketing challenge is overcoming the perception of a growing aging population. “The fear companies have in considering relocation is the mistaken perception that Boca is the retirement community depicted in the hit TV series Seinfeld. But the age demographic is actually trending younger,” he says.
Jessica Del Vecchio, manager of the city’s Office of Economic Development, concurs that the population is growing younger, from migrating retirees to a median age of 47 according to Forbes magazine. “When corporations relocate to Boca Raton they have an economic impact on our overall economy by adding property tax income and creating jobs. More above average salary jobs become available to the talent pool of our local college graduates, they stay, find gainful employment and the quality of life improves,” she says.
The quality livability claim is backed up by online studies Del Vecchio references that rank Boca Raton high on their lists:
o Best Beach Towns to Live In: Boca Raton is #7 of 205 cities nationwide (WalletHub.com)
o Best Suburbs to Live in Florida: #13 of 351 (Niche.com)
o Top 100 Places to Live: #45 of 2,300 cities surveyed (Livability.com)
o “A” rating in a satisfaction survey of 45,000 renters (Apartment List)
The Office of Economic Development serves Boca Raton’s corporate community. Some corporations recently headquartered in the city are: Shoes for Crews, Miami Grill, El-Ad National Properties and Gift of Life Marrow Registry (2019). Companies expanding (moving to new and larger space) include: Modernizing Medicine, Cosmetic Solutions, Hair Club and TherapeuticsMD.
The Boca Raton Resort and Club is a popular destination for corporate conferences during the year, especially in winter. Del Vecchio sums up a typical scenario: “Executives come in from all over the country [and world] and they experience a beautiful lifestyle, a luxury resort, warm weather, lower taxes. At the end of the conference they’re thinking, ‘Why are we getting on a plane heading back to terrible weather in a higher tax state when we can be productive in paradise?’’’ That’s when relocation thoughts kick in.
Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com
The main photo depicts Boca Raton skyline