They represent the kind of smorgasbord of commercial growth that other counties hungry for economic only development could drool over.

Business continues to boom in

County, fed by a steady diet of burgeoning jobs and capital investment.

Thirty-three companies have moved to or expanded in Palm Beach County within the past 12 months, according to the county’s Business Development Board. They brought in 2,502 high-salary jobs, investing $362.5 million back into the community.

That’s part of a trend that saw 140 companies relocate or expand to Palm Beach County with the board’s assistance over the past five years. In total, they brought in 13,110 jobs and $1.12 billion in capital investment.

“I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the board, which is Palm Beach County’s official economic development organization. Longtime residents like herself find the commercial economic surge exciting and mind-boggling as well, she said. It used to be that Palm Beach County “was the place to go and retire and die,” Ms. Smallridge said. Now it’s emerging as a business mecca for the southeastern United States and perhaps the whole country, she said. “It’s not if it will happen, it’s when it will happen.”

Growth is not only soaring, it’s sustained — not a one-time spurt due to recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic, she said. However, the radical lifestyle and workplace changes necessitated by the push to stop the pandemic’s spread laid the groundwork. COVID forced people to stay home and work remotely. Even as the pandemic waned, that practice remained for many.

“At the top, people tell me it is now acceptable to be in Palm Beach and do a meeting with the Manhattan office via Zoom,” Ms. Smallridge said. “Before, if you weren’t there physically, you’d be missing out.” You no longer have to be in the room to be taken seriously, she said. “Since it’s OK, why not do business where I want to live?”

There’s a lot to like about Palm Beach County. A 2021 study by Unacast, a location data analyst firm, ranked Palm Beach County No. 1 among Florida counties for both population and income growth: 11,000 people moved to the county during 2020 with a new net income gain of $3.4 billion — far exceeding the gains of any other U.S. county studied by Unacast. The Business Development Board’s annual report lists the average salary in the county at $68,331. The most recent unemployment rate (August) is 2.9%.

Of the new business activity within the last year, 51% was recruited from outside of Florida. Most of it came from the northeast U.S., Ms. Smallridge said.

The top five industry “clusters” the county focuses on are Life Sciences, Distribution/Logistics, Manufacturing, Financial Services and Aviation/Aerospace/ Engineering.

They are all represented in the newest batch of businesses calling Palm Beach County home or expanding within the county.

The “Wall Street South” movement transforming Palm Beach County into a financial services hub continues to strengthen. The latest additions include Millennium Management Global Investment, opening an office that will bring in 150 jobs with an average wage of $400,000.

My Bambu, a financial technology firm geared to the Hispanic market, will bring in 90 jobs. Other recently relocated companies include Elliott Management and Virtu Financial.

In the Life Sciences category, ProCaps Group, an international healthcare and pharmaceutical company from Latin America, acquired an 86,000-squarefoot pharmaceutical production facility in Riviera Beach with plans to add 200 jobs to the current workforce of 42.

In addition, the Florida campus of Scripps Research in Jupiter merged with the University of Florida’s academic health center as UF Scripps Biomedical Research. UF also will create a new 13-acre campus in downtown West Palm Beach, offering graduate courses in financial services, financial technology and artificial intelligence.

In the Aviation/Aerospace/Engineering category, Israel-based Percepto will manufacture drones and create 100 jobs at an 11,000-square-foot facility in Riviera Beach, a $5 million capital investment.

RENCO USA, a structural building system composite manufacturing company, opened a new corporate headquarters in Jupiter and plans to create more then 100 new jobs, a $25 million capital investment.

In the distribution/logistics area, Ideal Nutrition, a healthy meal delivery company, is creating 170 new jobs at a new 43,000-square-foot facility in West Palm Beach.

Nearly 80% of the growth is in the central and northern parts of the county, probably because of the availability of new, Class A office space, Ms. Smallridge said. “More space has been under construction in the last three years” than in the county’s entire history, she said. Existing buildings in downtown West Palm Beach have a very low vacancy rate and “some still under construction are 60% leased two years from opening,” she said.




Board data shows the county currently has 50 million square feet of existing office space, with 1.5 million square feet of Class A space under construction.

The county also has 19.8 million square feet of existing industrial space with an additional 1.6 million square feet under construction.

Palm Beach County is clearly a magnet for New Yorkers. Last year, 61,728 New Yorkers switched to a Florida driver license, according to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Palm Beach County was the No. 1 recipient of those who made the switch. The Unacast study said 41% of moves to Palm Beach County were from New York.

Those moving here give various reasons, Ms. Smallridge said. Crime in New York has escalated. The business environment is not as friendly as Palm Beach County. Taxes are burdensome. The commutes are long.

Here, you’re not shoveling snow, not on the subways, there’s no two-hour commute. There are both business and personal tax advantages. You can wake up, take a walk on the beach or a halfhour swim before you go into the office, she said. This is time you’re giving back to your employees and to yourself.

“A vibrancy here”

Jennifer Quent moved from New York City about a year ago and now calls it one of the best decisions she ever made.

“There’s a vibrancy here,” she said.

She moved from the Manhattan office of Marcum LLP to the Palm Beach County office. She lived in Manhattan for about 20 years and was a dancer with the American Ballet Theater, Ms. Quent said. Then she went from being a ballerina to becoming a director in the firm’s Family Office practice, overseeing the financial matters and lifestyle services on behalf of ultra-high-net-worth clients, including families and private foundations.

She’s been with Marcum for nearly four years. “I love my job,” she said.

But living in Manhattan in 2020 was bad, Ms. Quent said. She and her family were locked down because of COVID. Her two kids were struggling with depression. In the meantime, she felt the city was declining. She finally decided enough is enough. Ms. Quent and her boyfriend drove down the East Coast and ended up buying a house in Wellington without even touring it first.

She’s grateful to be here. She sees finance professionals just as she used to see in New York. It’s exciting to see the development that has happened in just one short year, she said.

“My daughter is the success story of the century,” she said. The 13-year-old did a complete turnaround and started enjoying life again, Ms. Quent said. Her son, 16, waited until he finished the year at his high school before coming down to join them and is adjusting well, she said.

“It’s so refreshing and I know it’s the quality of life we have here,” Ms. Quent said. “It’s peaceful. The sun is shining.” She does miss all the restaurants and nightlife in New York, but that will come, she said.

Concierge services

The Business Development Board offers dozens of complimentary concierge services to make the move of a company and its employees as snafu free as possible. They include expedited permitting, financial incentives, research services, property tours, introductions to public and private schools and more.

The median age in the county is down to 39, Ms. Smallridge said. The businesses are bringing a workforce that includes families looking for a safe place to live with a high quality of life, active lifestyle and good schools for their kids.

She puts herself in the other person’s shoes and treats them as she would like to be treated.

“We understand,” she said. They are looking to make a big change, invest a lot of money, uproot their family and that can cause anxiety.

What a company asks her: What kind of relocation services can you provide?

She will respond: What matters for your employees? Then create a plan with resources geared specifically to their needs.

For example if a woman says her that daughter attended a premium ballet school where she previously lived, Ms. Smallridge would reply “Well, we have a ballet school here also.” Then, instead of just giving her the number, she’ll say, “Let me go there with you.”

“I would say schools, permitting, doctors and activities for children are probably the biggest requirements” people want, she said, followed by requests for referrals to accountants or attorneys.

The scenario is not all rosy. The lack of affordable housing in the county is a significant issue. “The shortage of affordable housing may be the biggest crisis in our county,” said Tom Veenstra, vice president of administration for CareerSource Palm Beach County. “Some employers have told us candidates have turned down very attractive wage/benefit offers because of the unavailability and high cost of housing here. The unavailability and affordability of home insurance contributes to this.”

The current median listing home price in the county as of September is $529,900 according to Other estimates range from $550,000 to over $600,000. The current average rent for a one-bedroom in West Palm Beach is $2,747 and for a two-bedroom, $3,395, according to

Ms. Smallridge confirmed that she has had several recent discussions with businesses that sought to move or expand to Palm Beach County, but hesitated or declined because of the lack of reasonably priced housing. But the cost of housing will not jeopardize commercial growth, she said. “It will just change the makeup of the growth.”

The mix of clients the county attracts would shift to those that can afford the higher-priced office buildings, manufacturing facilities or land, she said.

People have to understand that when they move, they may not be able to relocate on the beach, she said. “It’s hard for single people to afford an apartment here,” she said. “If you’re in your 20s, looking for a one-one for $1,000, you’re not going to find it.” The area is more conducive to dual incomes, she said. But there is workforce housing available. “You may have to go a little bit farther west or drive a little bit farther to work,” she said.

Headquarters hub

Palm Beach County already is home to more than 460 corporate headquarters.

One of the newest is NewDay USA, which opened a second headquarters in Palm Beach County nearly a year ago. One of the nation’s leading veteran mortgage lenders, the company is creating 600 new jobs at 360 Rosemary in West Palm Beach over the next two years. The average employee salary is over $90,000 and the average age is 25 to 30.

Rob Posner, CEO, knows he made the right move. He had been coming down to Palm Beach County from his original Maryland headquarters off and on for vacation over the last 25 years. The COVID pandemic made him take stock of where he was and where he was going. “The more I researched West Palm, the more I thought this could be the place where I want to spend the next 25 years of my life,” he said. “I think a lot of people during COVID made such a decision.”

While the kids were taking school online, the family had more freedom to explore. “It was one of these things where the more I peeled back the onion, the more I fell in love with this place,” he said. Florida also happens to be the state with the third-largest veteran population in the U.S., which made it an ideal choice. They found a home and a great school for their youngest child.

“Now I have a 7-minute drive to work,” Mr. Posner said. “When you want to play, there are so many different things to do.” He feels fortunate to have access to the ocean.

“West Palm is really going to be one of the truly exciting places to be in the next 20 years,” he said.

Northeast Operations

1403 South Atherton St.
State College, PA 16801

Southeast Operations

424 Park Place,
West Palm Beach, FL 33480

Corporate Headquarters

356 Laurens Rd.
Montoursville, PA 17754