In late August, a CreativeWate 2-tier buffet server was shipped from AMAZON’s fulfillment center in Lakeland. Why the significance? It was the first item handled at the new one-million-square-foot facility, which was announced earlier in the year amid great attention among economic developers. The first shipment was made a few days after Amazon welcomed more than 400 full-time employees to the facility, a number that will continue to grow. The median pay inside Amazon fulfillment
centers is 30 percent higher than jobs in traditional retail stores.
The Florida Angel Nexus is spreading its wings, thanks to a new online portal designed to better connect entrepreneurs and investors. Before the portal was launched in August by the Orlando-based group, interested investors needed to schedule in-person meetings. The portal is welcome news. As reported in the June/July 2014 issue of FORWARD FLORIDA, various organizations statewide are working to close a large gap in start-up funding. Last year, Florida captured only 1.4 percent of venture capital funding nationwide.
Twenty-one companies in Central Florida were among the 50 honored as part of the 2014 Florida Companies to Watch. The awards, presented by GrowFL, are for second-stage companies with six to 99 employees and annual revenue between $750,000 and $50 million. Other criteria include employee and sales growth, leadership, competitive advantage, corporate culture and community giving. The 2014 winners represented $370 million in total annual revenue and 1,757 full-time employees. Second-stage companies in Florida account for 5 percent of all businesses and nearly 30 percent of the state’s jobs.
SouthPark (not the snarky TV show) represents one of the largest Metro Orlando real estate transactions in recent memory. In late July, the 176-acre office park in south Orlando was sold for $260 million, with a Boston investment group making the purchase. SouthPark Center houses the corporate offices of SeaWorld, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lockheed Martin, Walgreens, Wyndham Vacation Resort and Marriott Vacation Club. Development of the park began in the late 1990s.