Boca Raton’s business community is golden
Despite unsettling times throughout the last two years both at home and abroad, the business climate in Boca Raton remains robust. From a stellar growth record during the last 15 years, the Boca Raton economy is based on large corporations such as IBM and Applied Card Systems, as well as a thriving small-business community. In fact, small businesses represent nearly 85 percent of the Chamber’s membership.
“The business community in Boca Raton is exceptional,” says M.J. “Mike” Arts, president of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. “We have top-notch business leaders and proactive community officials who are constantly making things happen. We work very hard to ensure that Boca Raton remains a community in which businesses can balance growth, create jobs, provide their employees with a quality lifestyle and operate at a profit.”
The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce has worked with the community to build a superior quality of life, a well-educated work force, an attractive tax structure and reasonably priced prime office space. Operating a business in Boca Raton has new and constantly growing benefits. Companies have the opportunity to apply for grants offered by the Palm Beach County Business Development Board for up to $2,000 for each full-time job created, an initiative intended to attract and retain business investment and quality jobs in Palm Beach County through corporate relocation, expansions and international trade. This private, nonprofit corporation was designed by the state to be Palm Beach County’s official economic development organization. For more information on the Business Development Board, call 561/835-1008.
The growth in Boca Raton has been consistent—and also carefully managed, thanks to visionary ordinances and land-use measures. The Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency, created by the city about a decade ago to develop and promote a long-range land-use plan for downtown, is guiding growth through a regional master plan and capital facilities plan, guaranteeing a hand-in-hand relationship between future downtown development and public services.
As the 2003-2004 season rolls on, Boca Raton continues to be one of South Florida’s hottest office markets, with more than 9 million square feet of rentable space in the area, strong demand, new construction and the renovation of existing buildings. Tenants have a wide variety of choices in office accommodations, from value-priced research and development parks to luxurious class “A” office towers. Boca Raton’s downtown continues to grow, as financial institutions, attorneys, accountants and other professional firms continue to move into our area. There currently are at least 180,000 square feet planned or under construction along the Palmetto Park Road and Federal Highway corridors, adding to a business district surrounded by Mizner Park, the Boca Raton Museum of Art and Royal Palm Plaza, among other nearby amenities.
Some stores, such as furniture retailer Robb & Stucky. recently have come to town because business owners understand the value of the Boca Raton demographic—and the appeal of a Mizner Park location. Others, like Boca Printing, have been around for decades and continue to thrive. Boca Raton also is home to many corporate and regional headquarters, including IBM, NCCI and NABI pharmaceuticals. In fact, companies continue to buy land wherever it can be found, as evidenced by the recent purchase of 85 acres of undeveloped land in the T-Rex Technology Center by three different corporations (Stiles Corporation of Fort Lauderdale, Principle Properties of Boca Raton and Butters Construction and Development of Deerfield Beach) that will total more than 650,000 square feet of office and retail space.
“Quality of life, an educated workforce, superior infrastructure, proximity to two major international airports and a great year-round climate are what make Boca Raton a premier office destination in South Florida,” says Richard Brockney, a commercial real estate agent with Penn-Florida Realty.
The average annual unemployment rate as of January 2003 was 5.6 in Boca Raton and 5.3 percent in the state of Florida, percentages expected to decrease as the economy continues its recovery. Although Boca Raton has been affected by the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the Persian Gulf conflict, the impact of the recession has been mitigated by the city’s sound and diverse economy, a fact that has helped attract new business to Boca Raton. The average household income in Boca Baton is a healthy $62,594, an amount higher than both national and state averages. The Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security has information and programs regarding all aspects of labor issues in the state. Its jobs and benefit centers are the largest single source for qualified job seekers in the state. For information on its programs, please call 561/737-8875.
Florida is one of the few states in the country with no personal income tax, a factor that undoubtedly has helped spur business relocations as well as population growth. The income rate for a Chapter C corporation (regular corporations) is 5.5 percent. The first $5,000 of taxable income apportioned to Florida is exempt. There is no corporate income tax for Chapter S corporations or partnerships and no corporate franchise tax on capital stock. There also is no property tax on business inventories or vehicles. In fact, the state has one of the nation’s lowest corporate income tax rates. Retail sales tax is 6 percent in Palm Beach County, and the comparatively low intangible tax (the tax on the value of stocks, bonds, accounts receivable and taxable securities) is being phased out. Incentives for businesses relocating to the county’s enterprise zones include credits toward state corporate income tax and sales tax refunds for new equipment and building materials.
Boca Raton’s strong financial services sector reflects its large concentration of affluent retirees, well-paid corporate executives, successful small businesses and a tourist economy that’s on the rise. There are more than 20 banks in the Greater Boca Raton area, with more than 50 main branch offices. Local deposits hover around the $2 billion mark, a tribute to the area’s resilience and affluent population base. And it’s certainly one of the reasons The Wall Street Journal named Boca Raton No. 1 on its list of places executives would most like to live in Florida. If you need more information regarding the Boca Raton business climate, please call the Chamber at 561/395-4433 or visit our Web site at www.bocaratonchamber.com.
Source: Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, BOCA RATON ANNUAL 2003-2004