By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s invitation to Floridians to move to California ahead of the November election, California businesses continue to leave, and increasingly to Florida.
While their top relocation destination is overwhelmingly Texas, several major companies have relocated to Florida since Gov. Newsom’s been in office.
The most recent include several major companies that announced their relocation plans this year, after “Tech Flight” began from Silicon Valley to Miami in late 2020.
Rental home management company Belong announced in September that it was relocating its headquarters from San Mateo to Miami. Its general manager in Florida said the move “was good news for Miami rental owners. Miami is one of the fastest growing rental and real estate markets in the country, so it makes sense for Belong to set up our HQ in the center of the action.”
The company also said it was rapidly expanding “into the Florida market, highlighting Miami’s appeal to start-ups and tech companies.”
Investment fund Black Dog Ventures Partners, with offices in Tempe, Arizona and San Francisco, announced it was relocating its headquarters to Tampa. Its CEO and founder Scott Kelly told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that the Florida city “was ridiculously welcoming… has a significant amount of people moving there; there’s a lot going on in the entrepreneur space.”
After working in Silicon Valley for 15 years, he said “our goal is to bring the syndicate of the West Coast investors into the Florida ecosystem.”
Astronics Test Systems, a subsidiary of Astronics Corporation, also announced it was moving its headquarters from Irvine, California, to Orlando. It plans to hire 60 more local residents over the next two years, paying an average wage of $92,000, 60% higher than the average wage in Orange County, it said.
ATS President Jim Mulato said, “Orlando’s welcoming and collaborative government and business community made it an easy decision to relocate Astronics’ headquarters from Irvine to Orlando.” The company has enjoyed success in the Orlando market since 1994, he said, but it’s continued to grow “by drawing from the specialized talent pool of University of Central Florida graduates and other surrounding technological universities.”
American Technology Network Corp., a leader in the tech optic industry, was relocating to Florida from California because “California is no longer a state in which this growth can continue,” the company said in a news release. Its new Florida facility will be more technically advanced with a more streamlined warehouse and shipping area, allowing ATN “to deliver the highest quality of products to its customers in a more efficient manner,” its chairman and chief marketing officer, Marc Vayn, said.
In 2021, San Francisco-based cyber security company OPSWAT, a leader in critical infrastructure protection, announced it was relocating its headquarters to Tampa.
In November 2020, Tech titan Keith Rabois told Fortune that he was leaving Silicon Valley and moving to Miami because “San Francisco is just so massively improperly run and managed that it’s impossible to stay here.”
Also in late 2020, Jonathan Oringer, founder of Shutterstock, left the Bay Area for Miami, as did David Blumberg, founder and managing partner of Blumberg Capital. In a Facebook post, Mr. Blumberg said he was moving because of “Poor governance at the local level in San Francisco and statewide in California has driven us away,” the San Francisco Business Times reported.
As other tech giants left the Bay Area, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said he began receiving a lot of calls from tech executives. He told NBC News at the time, “There is absolutely no doubt that a big part of the reason why they are moving is that they feel that there is an inhospitable environment for regulation and taxation.
“There is an attitude that has been expressed by some leaders that says, ‘We don’t want you and we don’t need you,’” he said, referring to California politicians. “It’s the opposite of the ‘How can I help?’ attitude, ‘How can I grow this ecosystem?,’” referring to that of Florida’s leaders.
Businesses relocating to Florida also pay far less in taxes.
California’s 8.84% corporate income tax rate and average combined state and local sales tax rate of 8.82% makes it one of the most expensive states to do business. By comparison, Florida’s 5% corporate income tax and average combined state and local sales tax rate of 7% makes it less expensive to do business.
California’s tax system ranks 48th on the Tax Foundation’s 2022 State Business Tax Climate Index. Florida ranks 4th.