Drawing on more than 16 years of financial services industry experience, Scott Wall talks to Middle Market Growth about the state of business in Florida. Wall is vice president of corporate banking in the corporate & institutional banking sector for PNC Financial Services Group, where he provides a broad range of financial products and services to middle-market clients. He also served as president of ACG Orlando at the time of publication.
Q. HOW DOES FLORIDA FOSTER INVESTMENT AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT?
I think Florida emphasizes a handful of competitive advantages. We don’t have personal income tax, our state is a “right to work state,” and we are seeing the success of a large and growing state university system with campuses, for the most part, in every major state market. It’s a business friendly state—we were ranked fifth in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index on tax-friendly states. Additionally, Florida is attracting diverse labor talent and experiencing a growing population. So it’s no wonder that Florida is known by many consumer brands as one of the premier test markets around the country. Combined with our gateway to international markets, top talent and robust port system, the opportunities become very interesting.
Investment seems to be happening more in our larger population areas. These include the coastal regions from Jacksonville down to Miami and from Naples through Tampa. I would add the I-4 corridor from Tampa through Orlando as well. We have seen some large regional investments throughout the state that should drive capital deployment, investment and job growth for years to come.
Q. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NON-FLORIDA RESIDENTS ABOUT M&A OPPORTUNITIES IN FLORIDA?
While we have our fair share of larger companies, Florida is comprised to a large extent of small business and middle-market companies. At PNC we find that many of these companies are family owned, with the founder from the Baby Boomer generation. These business owners are either passing on ownership to younger generations, or actively seeking an exit strategy for retirement. We think there are tremendous opportunities with this dynamic, particularly given a growing educated work force, access to overseas markets and a tax-friendly state approach, which helps with attracting capital and jobs.