Many families and business executives relocate to Palm Beach County for a number of reasons. Low taxes and no personal state income tax, the balmy winter days, and often an escape from the harried lives they led “back North” have lured them South.

What they’ve also found is both a burgeoning and existing business community representing many of the core sectors leading the charge into the new economy. These include information technology and telecommunications; healthcare and health tech; manufacturing, warehousing and logistics; business services; aviation, aerospace and engineering; even equestrian and agribusiness across thousands of open acres to the west.

The growth of financial services, private equity and investment banking has been so concentrated and profound, with names like Citadel, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs coming to town, the Palm Beaches have been coined “Wall Street South.”

What each finds is a pro-business, relocation-friendly infrastructure keen to launch, lure or retain new businesses. That’s atop the county’s enduring allure as a vacationer’s and business traveler’s destination. Travel and tourism in 2022 welcomed a record 9.1 million visitors with a total estimated economic impact of $9.7 billion.

It all continues to grow, adding to a county with over 1.5 million residents. Some 70% of business recruitment projects handled by the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County are from out of state, atop the 460 corporate headquarters already here. Topping the list: Carrier, TBC Corp., Office Depot, SBA Communications and ADT.

“We’re officially ‘Wall Street South,’ with many financial firms relocating from New York to the Countycounty, and we only see that trend accelerating as new Class A office buildings open within the next few years,” said BDB President and CEO Kelly Smallridge, whose organization in the last fiscal year landed 33 corporate relocations and expansions, secured some 2,500 jobs, and drove $362.5 million in capital investment. In fact, over half of those deals were from out of state.

“With an A-rated public school district, 115 private and faith-based schools and world-class higher-ed, executives are learning Palm Beach County has the best opportunities for business and family,” Smallridge added.

Today, the county is part of a tricounty region of over 6 million that’s the largest economic engine in a state that is the nation’s fourth largest, with $1.4 trillion in gross state product in 2022 and would be the 16th-largest economy if it were a sovereign nation, notes the International Monetary Fund.

Think of the county as a collection of 39 interconnected municipalities each adding to the greater whole. Eastside destinations, such as Boca Raton, Lake Worth and Delray Beach, bring culture, dining and entertainment that attracts visitors from across the region and world. To the west, Wellington is the global epicenter of winter equestrian sports.

The names of those calling the county home have changed its very reputation. Once known only as a vibrant vacation destination, today it’s a hub of business and industry. Ken Griffin’s Citadel and other investment and private equity firms are only the most recent arrivals to “Wall Street South,” the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector centered in West Palm Beach.

As a medical device manufacturing hub, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Synthes, Precision Esthetics, SurGenTec and Boca Raton’s own Modernizing Medicine are among the hundreds here that make life sciences among the county’s hottest sectors.

The county’s diversity makes it a prime market for health care providers. Regional names, such as Cleveland Clinic Florida, Nicklaus Children’s Health System and Baptist Health each have made inroads in the county. Baptist, for example, acquired several hospitals – —Boca Raton Regional Hospital and two Bethesda hospitals in Boynton Beach – — and continues to add new services. These include institutes for cancer, vascular care, women’s health, neuroscience and orthopedics. In all, the county has 23 hospitals, from county-run facilities and leading national health care providers.

For Lincoln Mendez, Baptist Health north region executive and CEO of Boca Raton Regional Hospital, the mission is “laser focused on really driving our growth across the Palm Beach County market.”

Much of the region’s health care focus began with the arrival of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter two decades ago. The subsequent opening of Max Planck Florida Institute propelled life sciences to a sector with almost 650 companies, including TherapeuticsMD, ZimVie Dental & Spine, ProCaps Group, and the launch last year of the Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology, named for the $100 million pledge from the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation.

The county is a hotbed for higher education. Beyond the UF / Scripps deal, Palm Beach State College recently announced TGL, a new tech-infused virtual golf program and prime-time league co-founded by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, that will attract world-class golfers from around the world on its Palm Beach Gardens campus.

Palm Beach Atlantic University, which recently received Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation, unveiled a new state-of-the-art, six-story business complex planned for downtown West Palm Beach.

Florida Atlantic University (FAU), a top public university as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, is a significant contributor to the region’s economic growth and development. It awards more than 8,000 degrees annually, making it first in the nation for degree completion, as noted by the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities, and top 20 and top 40, respectively, for graduating African American students and Hispanic students with bachelor’s degrees.

FAU’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program is ranked 27th and the graduate program is ranked 42nd in the nation by The Princeton Review. FAU has received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement.

Another literally high-profile ranking: the school’s men’s basketball team last season had the best season in program history. It notched a school-record 35 wins, the nation’s best record (35-4), a perfect 17-0 record at home and a spot in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

FAU’s various colleges – — of business, engineering, technology, life science and others – provide next-generation talent for the region’s growing workforce needs, often alongside career training organization, CareerSource Palm Beach County. As the region expands, employers are turning to such providers to prepare skilled workers.

Suffolk Construction, for example, partners with universities to build its pipeline, said Chris Kennedy, VP of preconstruction with the firm, whose list of work in the county includes The Bristol, Plumosa School of the Arts Expansion, The Strand, One City Plaza, and ongoing projects such as Palm Beach International Airport Concourse B Expansion, Royal Palm Residences in Boca Raton and the Ritz-Carlton Residences Palm Beach Gardens.

Among the talent it seeks are those skilled in construction management services, including such lines as its real estate capital investment, design, self-perform construction services, technology start-up investment and innovation research/development.

“We are seeing more seasoned construction professionals start to retire, so the need for younger talent is even more dire,” added Jay Fayette, Florida East Coast president for Suffolk.

To the west, the aviation, aerospace and engineering sector is home to over 1,600 companies, led by Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman. Interspersed where large-parcel land permits, is the burgeoning distribution and logistics sector for companies seeking proximity to a metro area of over six million stretching from the Palm Beaches through greater Fort Lauderdale to Miami-Dade County. Players epitomize household names, including Amazon, Aldi, FedEx, Tropical Shipping, Walgreens, Woodfield Distribution and Cheney Brothers.

Connections make the county and region desirable to logistics firms, as well as those millions of leisure and business travelers and local commuters. The downtown West Palm Beach and new Boca Raton stations for regional rail provider Brightline simplify travel between the three counties – — and soon, Orlando.

For longer travel, Palm Beach International Airport is part of a three- airport offering (along with Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport) offering thousands of flights throughout the region, nation, hemisphere and world.

PBI was named the fifth-best domestic airport in both Travel + Leisure Magazine’s 2022 World’s Best Awards and Conde Nast Traveler’s 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards. PBI has reached pre-pandemic passenger levels with roughly 6.9 million passengers traveling through the airport in the past twelve months, according to PBI statistics. In January, the number of passengers increased 32% over January 2022, said Laura Beebe, director of airports for Palm Beach County.

Meanwhile, locals know it as a convenient airport, even as it serves millions of passengers. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recognized PBI as Best in the U.S. for Shortest Overall TSA Wait Times.

“PBI continues to soar to new heights in serving the residents and visitors of South Florida,” Beebe said.

With growth among its residents, businesses and trade, the same could be said of Palm Beach County, where lower costs of living, high quality of life and that escape from harried lives back north make the county a thriving business and lifestyle destination.

Boca Raton: A profile in evolution

Boca Raton epitomizes evolution and contrasts. Incorporated in 1925 during the peak of that era’s Florida land boom, the city existed for generations as a vacation destination. It later found itself at the center of the technological transformation.

Known as the “birthplace of the PC” for IBM’s role here in creating the personal computer in the early 1980s, the city would become the region’s technology epicenter. It spawned countless tech startups and helped put South Florida on the global IT map.

“With 12 million square feet of office space, Boca Raton is a well-established and thriving business hub,” said Jessica Del Vecchio, economic development manager in the city of over 95,000. Covid-19 only propelled the city’s allure. In 2022, Boca’s office leasing totaled 471,697 square feet, more than double the annual leasing activity pre-Covid, Del Vecchio said.

But that’s only part of the story, and the city’s business evolution has been a repository of headlines. The Boca Raton, the 95-year-old venerable institution formerly known as the Boca Resort & Club before being acquired for $875 million in 2019, is undergoing a $200 million renovation. A $1 billion project will deliver later this year, the ultra-luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel and branded residences from Penn-Florida Cos.

Corporate expansions and relocations have included security provider ADT, First Republic, United Physicians, LendingOne, Gladstone Wealth Partners, BlackBear Capital, and Millcreek Residential. Developer Pebb Enterprises and BH Group acquired long-time corporate citizen Office Depot’s headquarters and campus for $104 million. Pebb also acquired the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University in 2022 and is developing its “restaurant row” concept at the Town Center at Boca Raton retail mall.

“We have aggressively targeted new acquisition and development opportunities in Boca Raton,” said Ian Weiner, president and CEO of Pebb Enterprises. “Boca Raton is experiencing tremendous residential growth and corporate relocation activity, which in turn creates substantial demand for new retail and restaurant offerings and office space. Our recent acquisitions position us to accommodate that demand.”

“Venerable” can describe numerous institutions here. That IBM team that developed the first PC worked from the 1.7 million-square-foot, Marcel Breuer-designed campus built in 1969. Acquired by CP Group in 2018, the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) today has been transformed into a 21st-century tech hub with customizable, move-in ready offices; outdoor areas; cafes; art galleries, and “plans for a true micro-city,” said Angelo Bianco, managing partner with CP Group.

It’s an “ideal landing spot for companies with large footprints,” he said, and is home to 18 national headquarters and 19 regional offices, including Kroger, Canon, Guident, Total Wine, Arete and Bluegreen Vacations.

“This has aided our success in cultivating an institutional-quality tenant mix,” he said. “The creativity and connectivity of the campus — given the property’s rich history in technology and innovation — allows the area to remain competitive on a national scale.”

Another tenant, which grew from a young upstart at the Research Park and today is a leader in its field, is Modernizing Medicine. With 1,700 employees, “ModMed” provides electronic health records and practice management solutions to doctors across such fields as allergy, dermatology, gastroenterology, OBGYN, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pain management, plastic surgery, podiatry and urology.

Its staff grew 30% year-over-year in 2022, leading the firm to be named a South Florida Business Journal Business of the Year honoree in 2022 in the $250 million to $500 million category. The caliber of workforce available here, either from Florida Atlantic University, the local technology ecosystem, or those eager to relocate to South Florida, makes Palm Beach County “a dynamic community with a rich history in technology and innovation,” said Dan Cane, the company’s founder and president.

“Our area boasts an exceptional business community and an enviable lifestyle,” he said, “and it’s this combination that helps set us apart.”

Andrew Duffell might agree. As the long-time president and CEO of the Research Park at FAU, Duffell has seen the young domestic mature and international-focused companies gain a foothold in U.S. and global markets, all from his campus on the outskirts of FAU.

Abutting the Boca Raton Airport, which serves U.S. and international destinations, with its own Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility, The Park and its Global Ventures initiative helps nurture those international businesses, and has seen “increasing quality and credibility of the scientific work going on at Florida Atlantic. The interest is coming from around the world,” he said.

He expects names like BioBeat, the first Israeli company to join Global Ventures; ISOLAB, a Turkish laboratory products and solutions provider; and Triangulate Labs, a Florida-based company whose Skinmap helps in early detection of skin cancer early, to find continued success – — much like two other tenant companies – FloSpine and ReachLink -, which recently were recognized as Florida Companies to Watch by GrowFL.

“The Research Park at FAU remains at the forefront of innovation and bringing new products to market,” Duffell said.

Like Boca Raton itself, the park, area businesses and the region are primed for continued growth in a fast-evolving global marketplace.

The business of culture

Think of Palm Beach County as a regional cultural business engine under constant improvement. The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach debuted a $100 million renovation and expansion. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter reopened in 2022 following a $36 million expansion that more than doubled the size of the largest regional theater in the Southeast. The $45 million expansion of the Cox Science Center and Aquarium in West Palm Beach will debut in early 2025.

The Boca Raton Museum of Art in Boca Raton completed a $5 million renovation in 2021 that improved its exterior and outdoor spaces. And the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach completed a $14 million expansion in 2022.

The Brightline’s West Palm Beach and Boca Raton stations connect the arts and entertainment districts of the two cities and such institutions as the Arts Garage in Delray Beach, Miami City Ballet in The Palm Beaches, Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, and The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society. It also makes “theater hopping” throughout the region a reality.

In all, arts and culture here generate $633 million in economic impact and employ over 14,000 people.

“The Palm Beaches are known as ‘Florida’s Cultural Capital’ because the arts are a big part of our destination and what helps set it apart,” said Dave Lawrence, president and CEO of the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County. “With hundreds of cultural venues and arts-related organizations, art and culture is big business in Palm Beach County.”