When most people think of thriving tech scenes, they probably imagine Silicon Valley or perhaps the Pacific Northwest. However, smaller tech scenes are booming all across the country, including one in Fort Lauderdale. While Fort Lauderdale might be better known for its beaches, where many young people head for spring breaks, the city has also hosted growing technology companies for nearly the last four decades. And it’s still going strong.
In the 1980s, IBM operated out of nearby Boca Raton, creating first computers and then the first smartphone in the early 1990s. However, it’s far from the only company to see the value of a presence in the area. Tech giant Microsoft has operated a Latin American regional headquarters in the area since 1994. They recognized one advantage that other tech centers lacked: Fort Lauderdale is a gateway to Latin American. The 46 countries of Latin America have proved to be Microsoft’s fastest-growing market.
One of the reasons why Fort Lauderdale continues to flourish as a hub of tech activity is the lower cost of living and operation when compared to larger tech meccas such as Silicon Valley. Florida also has no state income tax and a competitive tax structure, which makes it appealing to fledgling companies and startups. As more companies and leaders in innovation set up shop in the city, other businesses and professionals join. Microsoft is now joined by companies such as MagicLeap, a reality interface and software company, and HR software company Ultimate Software. The former received funding of over $1 with $793 million alone from Alibaba Group, while the latter company was named the company the #1 Large Tech Workplace in the nation by Fortune. This growth keeps other industries strong as well. For example, Suddath Ft. Lauderdale long distance movers are often busy bringing in new developers.
These names are just a few of the over 26,000 tech companies that call the Sunshine State home. Florida is in the top five states for tech companies, alongside California, Texas, North Carolina, and New York. This activity is one reason for the low unemployment rate of 4% in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas. Wallethub named the area the best in the state to find a job. Large and mid-size companies have added hundreds of jobs, bringing even more employees to the city. Developers and software engineers are in particularly high demand. The state expects this trend to continue. Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity estimates up to 19 percent growth through 2025 in software developer jobs alone. Communities in South Florida are projected to see even higher job growth for developers — up to 23 percent!
Recognizing the potential, companies such as LaunchCode are readying people to transition into technical jobs through apprenticeships and similar programs. Some staffing companies focus the majority of their recruiting efforts on finding software engineers. They host job fairs and court IT students who might otherwise have set their sites on tech companies outside of the state. By connecting to universities, recruiters hope to keep talent in Fort Lauderdale and to bring in outside talent.
Organizations have also arisen to meet the needs of companies that want to make their homes in the area. The Technology Business Incubator, housed in Research Park, is dedicated to helping startups succeed as well. Businesses can similarly reach out to Innovation Hub at Broward College for assistance.
For those who love the beach as much as they love technology, Fort Lauderdale offers the best of both worlds, while remaining more affordable than either California or Seattle.