Florida Ranked 12th In Top States For Business Report

After being put through a battery tests that used 60 measures of competitiveness across 10 categories, Florida ranked 12th in CNBC’s 2019 America’s Top States for Business.

The 10 broad categories were “weighted according to how frequently states use them as a selling point in economic development marketing materials.” 

Here is how Florida graded: 

  • Access to Capital (4)

  • Economy (10)

  • Infra-Structure (12)

  • Workforce (15)

  • Business Friendliness (12)

  • Technology and Innovation (20)

  • Quality of Life (24)

  • Cost of Doing Business (29)

  • Cost of Living (30)

  • Education (39)

While the Sunshine State ranked 39 out of 50 in education in this report, U.S. News & World Report actually ranked Florida’s higher education system No. 1 in the U.S. 

It’s those graduates from schools such as Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida International University and many more that have cybersecurity, tech and finance companies flocking to Florida to poach the top talent. 

“They are cranking out a lot of innovation and patents around cybersecurity,” said Craig Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. “That’s one of our fastest-growing tech sectors.”

For the leaders at Luminar Technologies, which established its R&D facility in Orlando, the Sunshine State also has no shortage of top-notch engineers with extensive knowledge of aerospace tech to meet the company’s needs.

“There is no place in the universe where you have the density of talent in the lidar and sensing space that you do in Orlando,” Scott Faris, Luminar Technologies’ chief business officer, told CNBC. “It’s got a rich history and density of people who understand all aspects of this. We’re able to attract those folks into the organization.”

Florida also hasn’t had an issue accessing capital. 

In April, Florida companies secured $107.1 million across 20 deals. Finxact, a Jacksonville-based banking platform startup, hauled in $30 million, the most of any company. 

“We’ve developed a platform that is functionally robust, reliable, scalable and highly efficient. We have multiple customer implementations currently underway and have raised capital to expand our capacity to go to market on a broader scale,” Finxact CEO and founder Frank Sanchez said in a press release.

Business boomed from April to July with 22 deals worth $743 million. Magic Leap, a Plantation-based startup working on augmented reality tech, led the way, securing $280 million to bring their grand total of funding to $2.3 billion.

Another major factor that helps Florida attract tech companies is the favorable regulatory environment.

Orlando Economic Partnership CEO Tim Giuliani told CNBC that bills like the one that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in June, which allows for autonomous vehicles to be on the road without a safety driver present, “sends a signal that Florida is willing to continue to change its regulatory environment to adapt to new technologies.”

Starsky Robotics has already taken to Florida’s roads to test their driverless big rigs. Back in mid-June, one of the company’s unmanned trucks hit a record-setting 55 mph on a closed stretch of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway near Tampa.