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Companies Are Relocating To Palm Beach County Amid COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

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Kelly Smallridge
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Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

This post has been updated.

The sporadic COVID-19 vaccine rollout isn’t stopping several companies from relocating their business to Palm Beach County. Recently announced corporate relocations are expected to bring more than 900 jobs to the area.

The jobs include up to 200 positions at the Glades Gateway Commerce Park in Belle Glade, where median household incomes are far below the income levels elsewhere in the county.

“After 20 years of working to bring economic prosperity to the Glades, we will be bringing in a concrete manufacturer called Finfrock,” said Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

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These Belle Glade jobs are expected to pay between $30,000 and $40,000 and they come in addition to more than 700 positions, the board announced, in the financial and technology sectors stretching from Boca Raton to Jupiter.

So far, at least seven companies are considering or in the process of relocating their businesses to West Palm Beach. Many of these jobs are in the technology, life science/biotechnology and financial industries.

Relocating companies include Project Wire, a technology business out of France, they're seeking office space for 20 jobs with an average salary of $75,000. In the life science/biotechnology sector, Exuma Biotech — formerly F1 Oncology — is adding nearly 100 employees to an office space on Flagler Drive.

In the financial services sector, Elliott Management, a $41 billion hedge fund, is relocating its headquarters to the city. Other relocation prospects seeking thousands of square feet of office space include: Point72, Project Washington, Project Lake, and Project Kraft.

And they represent about 10% of the current workforce. Smallridge is concentrating on these industries because of the “existing infrastructure” in Palm Beach County.

“We have the workforce, we have universities that are in alignment. Technology is the backbone of all companies. And the more depth that you can build in these particular industries, the greater your ability to attract more,” she said. “And what we want to do is complement the pillars of Palm Beach County, which is tourism, real estate, agriculture and construction.”

Smallridge says despite executives moving some of their existing staff with them, it's financially advantageous for the companies to hire locally. No need to recruit talent with expensive relocation packages, for example.

“The other difference, I would say, among these jobs is the salaries are a lot higher than the average salary of our county,” she said. “Our county has an average salary of about $55,000. And in many cases, these jobs coming into the area are closer to $90,000.”

Kelly says the county's economic development board targets high-paying industries because their “ancillary impact” is a lot greater than businesses that pay less. Their mere existence in a city can have a positive effect on the surrounding areas such as grocery retail, “restaurants, dry cleaners, car services and the list goes on.”

Finance and insurance sectors actually lost jobs in the West Palm Beach metro area between April and December, down 1,100, according to state data. Smallridge says she expects a “pick up” in the next year.

As a result of these jobs coming in, Smallridge says West Palm Beach, a city “rich in culture and arts,” may evolve into a city that attracts young minds in the information and technology industries. She says their presence would add balance to the city’s tourism, recreation and entertainment sectors.

“Every major tall building in West Palm will have the name of a financial service industry company very soon,” Smallridge said. “And that would be a very big shift from an area that was known for a place of retirement to now be known as one that is really attractive to young, bright minds.”