Business leaders optimistic on county economy despite these challenges

C-suite leaders in Palm Beach County are mostly optimistic about the prospects for their businesses, but report there are some challenges that come with operating in the South Florida market.

That’s according to Kaufman Rossin and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County’s inaugural Executive Survey report. More than 500 business owners, CEOs and executives participated in the survey to determine how decision makers view the local economy.

Sixty-three percent predict the health of their businesses will improve over the next year, the survey said. In addition, more than half said they plan to hire additional employees and 58% said they expect to increase salaries or award bonuses.

Many also said they plan to invest in marketing, recruitment and new technology in the coming months. Commercial real estate is another focus. The survey reports 65% of respondents said they will maintain their current real estate footprint, while 29% expect to expand their physical presence. Most of the businesses that participated in the survey operate fully on-site or have a hybrid model.

“We have a great tax structure and economic development ethos, and the feedback we received in this survey reinforces that businesses in Palm Beach are well-suited for further growth,” said Rick Slater, managing principal for Palm Beach and Broward at Kaufman Rossin.

Almost three-quarters of the survey participants were C-suite level executives and another 12% at VP or partner levels, the report said.

There are challenges as well.

Nearly 200 respondents said inflation was a top concern, a trend that is increasing the cost of goods and services locally. At 4.9%, the South Florida metro area has the highest rate of inflation in the country, according to data from the U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics.

Palm Beach County business owners are also worried about employee retention, the lack of available employee housing and insurance and health care costs, the survey reports.

Companies say the opportunity for growth is the top reason to do business in the county, followed by quality of life.

But there’s room for improvement: Twenty-eight percent of respondents said the market would be even better if real estate was less expensive. More robust transit solutions and stronger government services, like easier permitting, could also enhance the market for businesses, respondents said.

The information from the survey “enables us to identify successful strategies and explore opportunities for providing additional support, ultimately fostering the thriving success of local businesses,” said BDB president and CEO Kelly Smallridge.

Read the full article on South Florida Business Journal.

Richard Slater is a Managing Principal – Palm Beach & Broward at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.