By: Ismael Rodriguez
The Sunshine State is often praised for its thriving tourist market, population and its place among the top five largest economies in the nation, but Florida has also quietly become a key hub for entrepreneurs looking to kick-start a successful business.
Most entrepreneurs that choose to relocate or expand in Florida are often met with generous tax benefits, access to several large markets, and ease of transportation by sea, air and ground. As a result, startup density and activity has skyrocketed in Florida in recent years, ranking the state first in the nation for density and third in startup activity, according to a recent Kauffman Foundation survey.
The state’s startup activity can be linked to a growing network of incubator and accelerator programs, renowned research universities and fluid connections to international business.
Some co-working and incubator programs like Domi Station in Tallahassee and others linked to state universities prove instrumental in helping startups across a variety of industries, including aerospace, biotechnology, and engineering, get off the ground by providing affordable office space, advice, and networking opportunities.
Then, of course, there’s Florida’s virtuous positioning, a strategic location for startups launching global businesses.
"People often don't realize that Miami is the capital of Latin America," Susan Amat, founder and CEO of Miami-based accelerator program Venture Hive, told the press. “Many large corporations with operations in Latin America, including PepsiCo Inc. and Visa Inc., have offices there.”
High-tech startup businesses are also an overflowing force across Florida. Some of these well-known high-tech startups include South Florida Technology Alliance, Refresh Miami and Orlando Tech Association. They provide workshops, networking opportunities and, sometimes, even funding. Innovation Coast, a congregation of about 20 technology organizations, for example, recently awarded $250,000 in prizes to local startups through a competition.
"We're trying to show angels and VCs there is a reason to look down here, so that it becomes automatic,” Innovation Coast’s chairman Jim McClellan told the press of Florida’s market, believing that this sort of funding is just the beginning.