Could the Emerald Coast be the Next Tech Sector?

Carson Wilber wrote an interesting article, “Northwest Florida is the Next Silicon Valley. Here’s Why”, that discusses the various merits of Pensacola and the Emerald Coast’s technological advances. He discusses 3 main reasons that support the area’s ability to be the next big tech sector.

  1. NW Florida has the highest concentration of military bases in the nation that host research and development of scientific and technological advancements.
  2. Florida has a low corporate tax rate of 5.5% and offers other incentives for new businesses.
  3. The University of West Florida has top school rankings, $20MM in state funding this year and has many accomplished alumni in the defense and aerospace industries.

The University of West Florida’s Innovation Institute, Innovation Campus Network, Center for Entrepreneurship and its Center for Cybersecurity have all gained national recognition in the world of technology and cybersecurity. UWF will begin a “first of its kind” Robotics and Intelligent Systems PhD program. UWF also earned the NSA’s classification as the National Center of Academic Excellence Cybersecurity Regional Resource Center for the SE region of the US.

NW Florida has numerous outreach programs for middle and high school aged students such as the STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The area is also the home to many other nonprofits, including Invictus Knowledge Institute and Innovation Coast as well as a vast array of private businesses that support the Emerald Coast’s advancements in the technological fields.

For more information, please read Mr. Wilber’s article: https:/www.linkedin.com/pulse/northwest-florida-next-silicon-valley-heres-why-carson-wilber/

Entrepreneurship is Back

Hubspot recently produced an interesting video that talks about the resurgence of entrepreneurship. 1/3 of America’s workforce is made up of self-employed people and small business owners. Today, most people no longer “work to live”. Two of the top reasons for their choice of work is personal satisfaction and the chance to change the world. 78% of millenials come from a family that started their own business. For the entire video from Hubspot, click the following link.

A Closer Look at 2017 Q1 Small Business Data

BizbuySell Insight found the sale of small businesses were up 29% from the first quarter of 2016. They also reported that these sold businesses grossed an 8.4% increase in median revenue from 2016 Q1. Median cash flow for these same businesses was also up 6.6% from the year before. These are the highest totals of key financial indicators that BizBuySell has recorded since they began tracking in 2007!

2017 Q1 data shows that the positive trend in the sale of businesses and their increased financials mirror the improving U.S. economy and stock market. According to Bob House, the president of BizBuySell, “A strong supply of attractive listings and qualified buyers, and an administration looking to reduce costs for small businesses should fuel the market over the upcoming months.”

For more information: http://www.bizbuysell.com/news/media_insight.html

Benefits of Using a Business Intermediary

Jay Offerdahl of Viking Mergers and Acquisitions brings up a valid point when he recommends that business owners enlist the services of an experienced business intermediary. “Most people wouldn’t try to sell their house without a real estate agent, file a tax return without the guidance of a CPA, invest without a financial advisor or go to court without a lawyer, so why go about selling your greatest asset yourself?”
An experienced business intermediary will bring you, the seller, the following benefits:
• Confidentiality
• Allows Seller to Concentrate on Running the Business
• Large Network of Qualified Buyers
• Marketing
• Valuation
• Experience
• Negotiation
• Motivation to Close the Deal
• Resources: CPAs, attorneys and lenders
• Assist buyers in obtaining financing
Business owners that sell their businesses on their own often deal with breached confidentiality, wasted time with buyers, poor marketing and an undervalued and poorly structured sale.
The business intermediaries at Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries have over 30 years combined business intermediary experience along with years of financial and marketing experience. Let us save you time and energy when you are ready to sell your business.

Business Confidence in Alabama Reaches a 10 Year High

The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce conducted a survey that shows business confidence for the state of Alabama went up 2.5 points to reach 65.2 in the second quarter of 2017. This is a 10 year high for the Alabama Business Confidence Index! Business leaders in Alabama are expecting rising sales, profits, hiring and capital spending to continue to rise. They are most confident in forecasting increased sales.

The survey panelists had high confidence for businesses in the Wholesale Trade category and especially businesses in the “All Other Services” category. The “All Other Services” category includes professionals in Recreation and Accommodation, Education and the Arts.  The Confidence Index for the Finance/Insurance/ & Real Estate category and the Construction category were also up significantly.

Almost 70% of the panelists forecast continued growth in Alabama’s economy for the next quarter. All three levels of businesses: small (under 20 employees), mid-sized (20 to 99 employees) and large (greater than 100 employees), also have a high level of confidence in the U.S. economy.

Information for this article comes from:

http://cber.cba.ua.edu/abci/results/ABCI-Q2-2017.pdf and The Birmingham Business Journal 4/4/17

Exciting Future of the 331 Corridor

According to Dispatches from DeFuniak, the Walton County Commission has partnered with the city councils of DeFuniak Springs and Freeport to create a plan for the installation of water and sewer lines along Hwy. U.S. 331 South. This would be a huge step forward in the development of the area between both municipalities and the unincorporated areas of the county.

This project, along with the soon to be completed widening of U.S. Hwy. 331, would have an enormous effect on Walton County for many years to come. The infrastructure project would encourage new manufacturing and retail companies to locate to this area.  The commercial development would also enhance the creation of new residential subdivisions.

The plan hopes to have funding from the area’s share of the settlement from the Deepwater-Horizon oil spill.  State Senator George Gainer and two other senators sponsored a bill to ensure that NW Florida would receive its fair share of the BP funds. This unique bill specifies that the money can only be used on infrastructure and education projects. Walton County, DeFuniak Springs and Freeport could receive up to $30 million to fund this very valuable project. We look forward to the long-term growth and prosperity that this plan would bring to the area for future generations!

Florida’s Economic Outlook is Bright for Entrepreneurs and Small Business

According to Florida’s Bottom Line, Florida’s economy had a solid year of growth in 2016. The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council ranked Florida 5th in the “Small Business Policy Index 2016”. This means that Florida has some of the most policy-friendly measures for entrepreneurs and small business.  Some of the policy measures include a large range of tax, regulatory and government spending, and performance measurements. These serve to impact the overall economy of the individual states.

Florida’s Bottom Line also refers to an article from the SunSentinel that says Florida’s economy has grown beyond trade and tourism. It’s four large industry categories include: trade,transportation and utilities; professional and business services; education and health care; and the hospitality and leisure sector. These have accounted for 80% of jobs created since Feb. 2010.

Another Florida accolade cited in the magazine says that Florida ranks 2nd as the Best State for Business according to Chief Executive Magazine, May 2016. Five hundred and thirteen CEOs ranked states that they were familiar with on workforce quality, living environment (which includes cost of living, the education system and local and state attitudes toward business) and the friendliness of the state’s tax and regulatory measures.

Other highlights noted in Florida’s Bottom Line help support the statement that 2016 was a great year for the business climate of Florida. 2017 looks bright for the business owners of Florida!

Avoiding Excess Tax! On the Sale of Your Business

Small business optimism is at a record high after the recent elections. Owners see opportunity for growth, and reduction in taxes and regulations. See the complete article HERE. It should also be a great time to sell your business. But if you are looking to sell your business, you need to be planning your “Exit Strategy” now.

Most small business owners run their business for years with one thought in mind, “Minimize my taxes and provide the most money to me”. Tending to keep whatever type of entity they started with (Corporation, S Corporation, LLC or Sole Proprietorship), they keep taking every advantage to shelter income from taxes, because they know how to do it for the type of entity they have.

After several years, they decide it is time to sell. If they have not spent time with their professional advisors (CPA, Attorney, Financial Advisor, and Business Intermediary), other than at the end of the year for tax purposes, they may be shocked to learn that there is a big tax liability due.

Exit planning should be done five years before the sale of a company. This rarely happens, but if you take one thing away from this blog, “START doing it Now” if you think you might sell in the next five years.

I want to briefly discuss two items that can cause an unnecessarily large tax bill on the sale of a business. The first deals with tax on the type of company entity. Most small businesses under $5 Million in value will be sold as an “Asset Sale”. There are many reasons for this, mostly dealing with the financial and legal liabilities of a sale of the “Stock or Shares” of the company. If your C Corporation is sold in an asset sale, the tax you pay may be twice what it would be on the sale of an S Corporation or other pass through entity like an LLC. You can, during the exit planning phase, elect to treat your Corporation as a Subchapter S. Here is the kicker, it must be done five years before the sale of your company.  Another area to watch is “Recapture”. When you use accelerated depreciation to minimize taxable income, you may have a big tax bill upon the sale of your company. This can be minimized, but the planning must start long before the sale happens.

At Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries, we believe in working with professional advisors in a team approach to business transfer. You, as a business owner, should also. After all, when you sell a business, it is not only the price, but how much you get to keep.

Emerald Coast Museums, Wildlife & Cultural Arts Centers

The Emerald Coast provides a wide variety of cultural arts and entertainment that is enjoyed by all ages. The area has an abundance of museums, wildlife centers and art & theater avenues. In addition to the various centers, you will find some type of cultural event happening during most weekends throughout the year!

Air Force Armament Museum : The museum at Eglin Air Force Base has early aviation armaments from WWI to today’s high tech aircraft. There are collections of weaponry and cockpit simulators.
100 Museum Drive, Eglin Air Force Base

Baker Block Museum : Journey through the past to gain an understanding of the life, heritage and history of our local region. Learn about lumbering, farming, land development, naval stores, local military patriots and more.
Corner of Hwy 189 & State Rd. 4, Baker, FL 32526

Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County: Several events including 30A Songwriters Festival, ArtsQuest, South Walton Fashion Week and more are presented throughout the year at different venues in Walton County, FL.

Destin History & Fishing Museum : The exhibits include a 1925 fishing boat, a collection of antique rods and reels, and vintage photographs of boat captains and their boats that present the history and journey of Destin from a small fishing village to a major tourist attraction.
108 Stahlman Avenue, off Hwy. 98 by the Destin Bridge

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Zoological Park : ECWRZoo serves as a sanctuary and lifelong home for native wildlife and exotic animals that have been abandoned or abused. The zoo is home to over 130 animals of 35 different species, including tigers, lemurs, and endangered species from six continents.
5262 Deer Springs Drive, Crestview, FL (8 mi. E. of Crestview on Hwy. 90)

Emerald Coast Science Center : The facility has 4 exhibit rooms and 2 classrooms on 2 acres. New robotics exhibits were installed in 2014 and 2015. In 2017, a new exhibit featuring our local Emerald Coast ecosystems will be installed and a renovated reptiles and amphibians exhibit will be installed.
31 SW Memorial Parkway Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park : This is one of the world’s oldest marine animal parks celebrating 61 years. Enjoy dolphins, stingrays, reptiles, seals, gators, penguins, otters and the lovable sea lions. There are dolphin and sea lion shows, encounter experiences and indoor aquarium exhibits.
1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach

Heritage Park & Cultural Center : This park includes the Indian Temple Mound Museum, Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum, Garnier Post Office Museum, Fort Walton Temple Mound and the Civil War Exhibit Building.
107 Miracle Strip Pkwy. SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL

Mattie Kelly Arts Center (at NW Florida State College): All of the 1,650 seats in the main theater at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at NW Florida State College are no more than 90 feet from the stage! Artists from theater, dance, music and comedy present top entertainment for the area.
100 College Blvd., Niceville, FL

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation : All areas of art outreach are provided through educational programs, workshops, camps and live performances.
The Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, 4323 Commons Dr. W, Destin, FL

For more museums in the Panhandle go to:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g1438845-Activities-c49-Florida_Panhandle_Florida.html

An Airport Gem in Defuniak Springs

Visitors traveling to Walton County by way of general aviation can find that Defuniak Springs Airport offers the same airport services and amenities as Destin Executive Airport. The airport is located just 30 minutes north of the 331 bridge. It is situated along Hwy. 90 East and is three miles from the I-10 and Hwy. 331 exit.

The airport handles most twin engine aircraft up to a light twin jet. The 9/27 runway is 4,146 ft. and is equipped with a RNAV GPS instrument approach and an Automated Weather Observation System. Ryan Adams, the Airport Director, is overseeing plans to expand the 9/27 runway to 5,000 feet.  This will allow the airport to handle small to medium sized business executive jets and charter operations as well.

Construction will begin in 2019 on a new state-of-the-art multi-use airport and terminal facility.  This will be “the lynchpin” of economic development throughout Walton County; from the airport to the beaches. There is a 300 acre industrial park within the airport complex with parcels that are project-ready with runway access and located minutes away from I-10. “We envision the development of the terminal to include conference rooms, and office and retail space. The design is for business people to make their industrial home right here at the airport or along 331, and their vacation home in South Walton”, Adams says.

Defuniak Springs Airport has some of the best gas prices in the Southeast, attracting aviators from Texas to South Florida. Hangar space ranges between 1,000 SF to 5,000 SF and leases start at under $300 per month. Defuniak Springs Airport is definitely worth a look for South Walton residents and vacationing travelers.

Information for this blog came from southwalton.life/defuniak-springs-airport/