How Hustle is Helping Us Bring Business to Boca Raton
Boca Raton, FL – Last month, I updated residents on public safety, including our 30% drop in crime from already-low crime figures and our first-in-the-state enhanced safety regulations after the Surfside tragedy. Just as a safety attracts new investment, so does existing investment. But in order to thrive in a more competitive marketplace, it will continue to take hustle.
Boca Raton has long been distinguished from other cities by our thriving business climate, with most of the corporate headquarters in our county. Our strong economy is thriving. In the last 22 months, nearly 3,000 new businesses have started in Boca, bringing us back to our pre-pandemic levels in the range of 12,000. Boca Raton has been a hub of innovation from the advancement of radar in the 1940s on our Army Air Field through the invention of the IBM personal computer in 1980s to today. This tradition is finding new life in the BocaTech movement, with Boca’s many innovative companies and high-tech professionals leading the way. As one example, a spontaneous gathering of tech professionals attracted more than 100 people getting together to share ideas.
Last year, we were chosen as one of eight cities nationwide to be part of the Innovation Track of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Institute. After months of work, a cross-departmental city team developed a plan to connect the many tech startup founders with funders. The goal is to help this tech talent grow and stay in Boca Raton. We look forward to implementing this plan to build on successes like FAU’s Research Park and Tech Runway and grow the critical mass of venture funding and tech innovators for a high-tech ecosystem.
We say “when you can work from anywhere, why not work from paradise?” and it’s true. But for CEOs and corporate site selectors unfamiliar with the beauty and bounty of Boca, we have to explain why our city’s paradise is better than other options. For some of them, it comes down to what their office looks like. We have the largest stock of Class A office buildings in the county, but a lot of it could use some updating. We can be encouraged by proposals for the first new office building in downtown Boca in years, as well as in other areas.
Not everyone is working from home, so that’s why transportation options and infrastructure are so important. In January, we had an exciting moment with the groundbreaking for the new Brightline station in Downtown Boca Raton, which is scheduled to open later this year. More residents spoke at a city council in favor of this initiative than any other in the last decade. The opportunity to be connected to a major transportation network, and to be one of one a handful of cities in South Florida as part of that network has untold benefits for our city.
This includes our centers of culture like our Amphitheater, Boca Raton Museum of Art, and the Mizner Park Cultural Center, along with businesses, shops, and restaurants beyond downtown. For our residents and especially commuting professionals, we’ll be able to hop on trains to Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and West Palm, and eventually, Orlando and our businesses will now attract more talent for high-paying jobs for our cities, all while reducing emissions.
So many have called Brightline a game-changer; one that will have lasting, positive impacts to bring visitors to our city. The initiative also adds a long-needed parking garage downtown, and thanks to our success in applying for a federal grant, and bipartisan Congressional support, our costs for the project were greatly reduced.
Brightline will be in Boca in large part because we pitched them. Three years ago, I made a strong case to Brightline executives that Boca Raton had the ridership they needed. After they showed interest, city staff worked hard and quickly to complete a lease and the planning for the area, so we could seal the deal. And that’s where I come back to hustle. Brightline’s CEO mentioned our city’s relentless pursuit and my increasingly frequent phone calls. And we needed the hustle and effort because other cities and counties put on a full-court press, including offering nearly one hundred million dollars in incentives to get their station.
In today’s market, our brand helps but it takes us only so far. That’s why we will continue to press to increase streamlining efforts, keep taxes low, and continue to our efforts to enhance our position as the economic engine of Palm Beach County.
You can see more on these and other hot topics by watching the video of the recent State of the City address at myboca.us/soc. Please email me at email@example.com with any thoughts, and stay connected with me on social media @ScottSingerUSA on all platforms.
By Mayor Scott Singer