Business Profile and Data


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 Fort Lauderdale is the heart of a robust, high-growth region. As the geographic center of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), Fort Lauderdale has everything a business needs to succeed - a diversified and educated workforce; a large market with disposable income; easy access to national and international markets; world-class educational opportunities; business friendly government; and an outstanding lifestyle.

Brief summaries of the business profile of the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County are reflected in the table below :


Business Profile

Ft Lauderdale


Total Number of Firms



Manufacturer’s Shipments ($M)



Merchant Wholesaler Sales ($M)



Accommodation/Food Sales ($M)



Retail Sales ($M)



Retail Sales Per Capita





A summary of Fort Lauderdale’s land use profile and taxable values is in the table below:


Fort Lauderdale Citywide Ad Valorem Tax Base 2015

Property Category

Number of Parcels


Area (ac)          % of Cat


Area (sf)

Units /

Hotel Rms

Taxable Value

(Land + Bldg)           % of Cat

























































(Florida Department Of Revenue, Final 2015 NAL Tax Roll)





Fort Lauderdale has approximately 24.5 million square feet of office space, with a vacancy rate of 15.4% and an asking rental rate of $28.17 per square foot. Approximately 38,000 square feet of office space was absorbed during the first quarter of 2016. Landlords are reducing concessions, but creditworthy tenants can still negotiate favorable terms. The strength of Fort Lauderdale’s office rental market has attracted a flurry of investment activity to the area. In terms of sales, current data indicates a citywide asking price of approximately $239 per square foot, up 25.5% from last year. Fort Lauderdale has two primary office sub-markets: Downtown/CBD and the Uptown Business District anchored by the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) and centered along the Cypress Creek corridor.

Downtown has approximately 5.1 million square feet of office space, with an overall vacancy rate of 9.5% and an overall asking rental rate of $34.54 per square foot. Approximately 17,500 square feet of office space was absorbed during the fourth quarter of 2015 and approximately 111,000 square feet were absorbed throughout the year. Rents in “trophy” buildings pushed $45.00 per square foot. Some of the City’s headquarter operations located in Downtown include AutoNation, BFC Financial, and Baxter International.

The Uptown Business District has approximately 6.7 million square feet of office space, with an overall vacancy rate of 14.7% and an overall asking rental rate of $23.46 per square foot. Approximately 22,400 square feet of office space was absorbed during the fourth quarter of 2015. Office space in the Uptown Business District tends to be corporate campuses, with some of the City’s largest headquarter operations like Citrix, Microsoft, and Zimmerman Advertising.

The Uptown Business District has approximately 6.7 million square feet of office space, with an overall vacancy rate of 14.7% and an overall asking rental rate of $23.46 per square foot. Approximately 22,400 square feet of office space was absorbed during the fourth quarter of 2015. Office space in the Uptown Business District tends to be corporate campuses, with some of the City’s largest headquarter operations like Citrix, Microsoft, and Zimmerman Advertising.



As a coastal City in South Florida Fort Lauderdale is a major tourist destination. Visitor spending, coupled with a large local and regional population, makes the retail industry a key player in the local economy. From high-end to affordable, Fort Lauderdale is a regional shopping/dining destination, as evidenced by an estimated $3.2 billion retail/restaurant sales surplus in 2016 (local sales in excess of local demand). The City has more than 11.7 million square feet of retail/restaurant space in over 1,000 properties (not including mixed-use properties) that range from freestanding, to community centers, to specialty retail districts, to power centers, and to regional malls.



Population growth and increased tourism is driving new construction. Countywide, the first quarter of 2016 found overall retail rents were $19.25 per square foot and vacancy rates at 6.0%. Approximately 59,000 square feet of net absorption has occurred to date in 2016 and over 500,000 square feet of new construction is underway. In Fort Lauderdale, the overall average asking rent for retail space is $21.46. In the third quarter of 2015, Downtown Fort Lauderdale shopping centers (994,898sf) had a vacancy rate of 2.5% with average rents of $28.04 per square foot. Cap rates have steadily declined since 2012 and the overall average of retail property sales is $245.03 per square foot citywide.


Retail Sales Gap Analyses focus on purchasing trends of the existing population within a market area and whether there is an opportunity for new retail to capture a portion of the existing market. The gap analysis examines local sales data, comparing existing retail sales to the retail potential of the study area’s population to determine the types of goods and services that are over- or under-represented in the area. Sales leakage, or demand for goods and services that is not being met locally (because residents are shopping for such goods and services elsewhere), may represent an added opportunity for new business to grow. Sales surpluses, where retail sales are higher than what would be anticipated given the local population, indicate that the area is attracting a consumer base beyond local residents. Data sources for this analysis include public and private vendor sources, demand data derived from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE Survey, US Bureau of Labor Statistics), supply data derived from the Census of Retail Trade (CRT, US Census). Some areas of current retail opportunities are: household appliances; lawn/garden equipment; nursery/garden centers; supermarket and specialty food grocers; department/general merchandise stores; and gift, novelty, and hobby stores.



Fort Lauderdale’s housing market has approximately 95,000 dwelling units (Florida Department Of Revenue, 2015 Final Tax Roll), with 38.5% being single-family properties and 61.5% being multi-family properties. The average taxable value of residential properties in 2015 was approximately $144.00 per square foot. Citywide, approximately 54% of the housing stock is owner occupied with approximately 46% being renter occupied. The median value of owner-occupied housing is $312,500.


The big news in Fort Lauderdale’s housing market is the development of condominiums in downtown. Condo sales were active in 2015, with an average of 28 units being closed every month during the first six months, slowing sales during the summer and fall, and strong sales again in December. Units were on the market an average of 49 days and sold for approximately $325 per square foot, about 97% of asking price. Average condo prices per square foot increased in three of the four quarters of 2015. As to be expected, the 2015 market activity resulted in explosive activity in 2016. As of the first quarter of 2016, 2,178 units were under review, 2,914 units were approved, 1,133 units were under construction, and 1,396 units were completed.


Rentals in downtown were also hot. Approximately 480 units rented at a weighted average rent of $1.92 per square foot, 98% of asking price. Of the larger rental properties in downtown (11 buildings representing 2,665 units), every building had occupancy of 95% or greater. In 2016, rents continue to rise (approximately 10% over the last six months) and hover around $2.10 per square foot. As of June 2016, actual rental rates citywide and in adjacent areas have been:

Studio                $1,400 per month        +3.7% from the previous month

1-Bedroom         $1,500 per month        -1.1% from the previous month

2-Bedroom         $2,050 per month        -2.4% from the previous month

3-Bedroom         $2,750 per month        +1.9% from the previous month

4-Bedroom         $2,400 per month        -12.7% from the previous month


This level of market activity and performance has attracted institutional investors. As reported by The Real Deal, “more than $2.8 billion worth of multifamily projects traded between developers and investors last year (2015), making it one of the region’s hottest asset classes.”


The single-family housing market has been solid. There were 178 homes on the market in January 2016, up 4.7% compared to the prior year. During January 2016, 21 homes sold, down 8.7% compared to the prior year, with an average of 71 days on the market. The average price was $217 per square foot, down 2.3% from the prior year. The average size of the homes sold was 1,636 square feet, resulting in an average sales price of $355,000.


In recent analysis (May 2016) of selected neighborhoods in and around Fort Lauderdale, it was found that home sales, including single-family and multi-family properties, seems to be slowing down. Active listings are up and closed sales are down. However, the number of new listings per month is down. Since the neighborhoods in the analysis were selected, the results may or may not represent the overall market.


Greater Fort Lauderdale has over 4,100 restaurants, 63 golf courses, 12 shopping malls, 16 museums, 132 nightclubs, 278 parkland campsites, and 100 marinas housing 45,000 resident yachts. Approximately 180,000 people are employed in the tourism industry in Broward County. The City of Fort Lauderdale enjoys international recognition as a “beach chic destination” and is the tourism center of the County. The City has a tropical rainforest climate and seven miles of beaches. Embraced by the  Atlantic Ocean, and more than 165 miles of scenic inland waterways, Fort Lauderdale truly lives up to its designation as the "Venice of America" and is proud to have been continuously certified as a “Blue Wave Beach” by the Clean Beaches Council since 1999.


Experiencing 68 consecutive months of visitor growth, Greater Fort Lauderdale hosted 15.4 million visitors in 2015. The largest domestic markets (76.5% of total) are New York, Hartford/New Haven, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Charleston/Huntington, and Boston and the largest international markets (23.5% of total) are Canada, Latin America, Scandinavia, Europe, and the United Kingdom. The average age of our tourist is 49 years old and they have an average annual household income of approximately $99,000. The average duration of their stay is approximately 4 days and 56% of them stay in a hotel or some other paid accommodation. Tourism related spending totaled $14.2 billion, spread across many types of businesses:

  • Lodging (hotel/motel)           $3.6 billion

  • Restaurant/Dining                  $4.1 billion

  • Shopping                                 $2.9 billion

  • Entertainment                         $1.3 billion

  • Transportation/Other             $2.3 billion


    Fort Lauderdale has 1,271 hotel/motel properties containing almost 11,400 rooms and over 11.7 million square feet of shopping and dining venues.



The Broward County Public School District  is the 6th largest public school system in the US and the 2nd largest in Florida. BCPS is Florida’s 1st fully accredited school system. BCPS has 238 schools (including centers and technical colleges) and 103 charter schools, serving over 268,000 students and approximately 175,000 adult students from 208 countries - 76.5% of Broward County students graduated last year. In 2013, BCPS became the first school district in Florida to partner with to increase access to computer science courses, curriculum, and resources in schools - currently offered in 180 schools, impacting more than 11,500 students. BCPS has the largest debate program in the US, with over 5,000 students actively participating.


With 43 institutions of higher learning within 30 miles, eleven of which offer MBA degrees, Fort Lauderdale offers an abundance of opportunity for higher education. Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Florida International University (FIU), and Broward College have campuses downtown. According to US News and World Report’s Annual Survey of America’s Best Colleges, both FAU and FIU rank among the nation’s top 300 universities.


Broward College is the County’s first and largest institution of higher learning and has the 3rd largest enrollment (68,000) among the 28 members of the Florida College System. Broward College offers 132 degree and certificate programs, at the most affordable higher education cost in South Florida. Broward College ranks 5th nationally among four-year institutions in awarding associate degrees (Community College Week) and 3rd in the US in awarding associate degrees to minority students. Broward College boasts a student body representing more than 175 countries. Thirteen Broward College students have earned prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships since 2004 - no other college has more.



Fort Lauderdale is served by Broward General Medical Center and Imperial Point Medical Center, which are operated by Broward Health, the third largest hospital consortium in the United States. Broward General Medical Center completed a major 400,000 square foot expansion, including a new emergency department and trauma center with rooftop helipad, critical care units, an outpatient imaging center and more. A comprehensive network of public and private hospitals serves the city. Among the area’s 24 hospitals are nationally-recognized leaders in cardiovascular medicine, childcare, sports medicine, and rehabilitation. The area also offers wellness programs, nursing homes, hospice care, and mental health facilities.



In an effort to better understand how to achieve Fort Lauderdale’s Fast Forward Vision of being a “Community of Choice” a comprehensive evaluation of how the City compares with other cities with similar population, trade, and tourism characteristics was conducted. The identified Competitive Cities are:

  • Austin, TX
  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • Memphis, TN
  • Miami, FL
  • Nashville, TN
  • Orlando, FL
  • Savannah, GA
  • Tampa, FL
  • Virginia Beach, VA


 A list of “Economic Prosperity Indicators” (indicators most often considered in site selection competitions) was developed as a means to quantify the comparison. The Indicators are broad category factors, each comprised of relevant indices.

  • Workforce
  • Innovation
  • Economic Performance
  • Livability
  • Business Environment


Results of the competitive assessment indicate Fort Lauderdale is ranked in the top four (out of 10) in all but one of the Indicators when compared to the nine Competitive Cities.

Economic Performance (3RD): Highest per capita income of all cities analyzed, coupled with a low unemployment rate (5.6%), a very healthy Gross Regional Product Annual Growth Rate (3.1%), and a private sector growth rate (6.4%).

Workforce (3RD): Healthy workforce growth rate (4.7%), 3rd highest share of Adults with Bachelor’s Degrees (34.4%), 5th highest prime workforce population (44.8%), and 3rd highest prime workforce migration rate (11.0%).

Innovation (2ND): 5TH highest share of workforce in science industries, 2ND highest population of adults with advanced science degrees (12.8%), 3RD highest concentration of patents per 100,000 residents, and 2ND highest Information/Communications technology density.

Livability (8TH): High rate of poverty (5TH, 20.4%), high cost of living (10TH), 5TH in terms of violent crimes per 100,000 residents, housing affordability (50% of residents pay more than 30% of income on housing), average commute time (24.2 minutes). Fort Lauderdale ranks 2ND in walkability and 4TH in employment in the arts – two key livability indicators the make cities great places to live, work and visit.

Business Environment (4TH): Relatively healthy business establishment growth rate (4TH, 0.3% annually), coupled with relatively low concentration of mid-sized businesses (8TH, 55 businesses/10,000 residents), City’s credit rating (3RD, Aa1), highest business density rate (320 businesses/10,000 residents). Fort Lauderdale’s overall business environment ranking is challenged by a relatively high cost of doing business (7TH due to the relatively high cost of labor, energy, and office space when compared to the Competitive Cities).



We would like to work with you to determine how a Fort Lauderdale location can give your businesses a competitive advantage in the world marketplace.


Jeremy Earle, AICP, ASLA, FRA-RA | Deputy Director 

City of Fort Lauderdale | Department of Sustainable Development
Economic and Community Investment Division
700 NW 19th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

Tel:  954-828-6430


K. Michael Chen | City-Wide Economic & Business Development Manager

City of Fort Lauderdale | Department of Sustainable Development
Economic and Community Investment Division
700 NW 19th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

Tel:  954-828-6430

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