If you ask most in South Florida, the ongoing recession has had a major negative impact on their standard of living and way of life.
And while those remaining in business are feeling the impact -- particularly those in real estate -- Florida continues to foster the important development of new business, particularly start-ups, which promise to lead the way out of the region's economic doldrums.
Take the example of entrepreneur Brandon Rosen, born and raised in Coral Springs and at the age of 28 is the successful CEO of BMI Elite, "a full-service digital advertising agency based in Delray Beach that leads the digital industry in performance-based marketing initiatives."
He'll tell you that South Florida is the best -- and only place -- to build and achieve an entrepreneurial dream and despite the economic downturn in South Florida, if you stick to following good old-fashioned business sense, there's a ton of opportunity still available to build a company.
"South Florida has a great business climate to nurture business; it has such a deep pool of educated and talented people with different skill sets that when looking for the next big opportunity, there's good help available to achieve success," says Rosen. "Workers here know how to grind it out and because of that, it has been and will continue to be a great place for nurturing a new business."
According to the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), after the recession hit in 2005, start-ups continued unabated in the Sunshine State and in fact created 1.475 million jobs in Florida between 2005 and 2009. Startup companies like BMI Elite continue to be Florida's top job creators and according to an FGA press release, "Start-ups are the key to Florida's economic recovery."
And Rosen, who started BMI Elite with two employees and has grown it to 48 in two years, continues to contribute to that recovery.
BMI Elite has quickly outgrown its company's current quarters in Delray Beach and is now moving operations to Boca Raton to a state-of-the-art office building that will enhance the delivery of digital advertising to a range of clients from mom-and-pop operations to Fortune 500 corporations and advertising agencies spanning the globe.
Rosen attributes his success in building BMI Elite (BMI stands for "Branding, Marketing, Interactive") to sticking to time-proven business principles and the business environment he found locally both in Delray Beach and Boca Raton.
In Rosen's case, the City of Boca Raton has been proactive in assisting him to make the move to the new headquarters on Broken Sound Parkway, where he hopes to employ 140 people within the next two years.
And that's nothing new in Boca Raton. According to Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel, who has been continually successful in fostering new business in her city during the recession, Bloomberg recently rated her city second in the nation behind Denver as the best place in the U.S. to start a business.
"Our City Council and staff have made it a priority to encourage the growth of start-ups like BMI Elite and we look forward to his continued expansion and success in Boca Raton," says Whelchel.
Also, in October, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County announced in October that the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved incentives packages for three companies that will create approximately 800 new jobs.
So while you ride around and see some empty stores, Palm Beach County is still the place to start a business and still leading the way to foster economic development -- even if the state can't totally get its act together. This week, Hunting Deutsch quit as Governor Scott's $140,000-a-year boss of the Department of Economic Opportunity, the third appointment in three years to vacate the post.
So there are some lessons to be learned in terms of business development in recessionary times from successful Florida entrepreneurs like Rosen, whose BMI Elite was voted a best small company to work for this year by Florida Trend magazine.
And he's optimistic about the future despite the ongoing recession, the fiscal cliff, higher taxes, Obamacare taking effect, and other potential impediments that have many small businessmen losing sleep right now.
"We are driven and keep our overhead low. We keep our employees motivated, we save for a rainy day, and we stick to fundamentals of building business core competencies. No matter what, that, as well as the great business environment in South Florida, will continue to drive our success," says Rosen.
That's a sound business plan for Florida if you ask me.
Published in the Sun Sentinel on Dec. 6, 2012.