Victor Febus’ ancestors has run their appliance store, Casa Febus, in Puerto Rico for added than four decades, growing it from a baby bazaar to a alternation with three showrooms beyond the island.
But the commonwealth’s government is mired in debt and risks active out of money. Its abridgement is disturbing through a decadelong recession. About 50,000 Puerto Ricans a year leave the island for the U.S. mainland, attractive for jobs and a bigger life.
To accumulate growing his family’s business, Febus has absitively to chase them. So this year, Casa Febus opened its aboriginal area in Florida, a abundance in Pembroke Pines a Miami.
“We began seeing how things were accepting a little added difficult here, economically speaking, so we began attractive at altered opportunities,” Febus said from Puerto Rico. “As abounding Puerto Ricans, we saw the opportunity, explored the bazaar (and) took the adventure.”
The aggregation wasn’t alone: A cardinal of Puerto Rican businesses accept set their architect on Florida, attractive to capitalize on the added able-bodied U.S. abridgement and clearing off the island. Back 2014, at atomic bristles chains accept opened locations in the Sunshine State.
Casa Febus is aing by El Meson, a sandwich chain; Lucky Me, a abatement store; National Lumber and Hardware; and Valija, a chichi accouterment boutique, in accretion into Florida.
“Recently you’ve apparent a bigger push,” said Andy Carlson, carnality admiral of retail allowance in the Tampa appointment of the absolute acreage close JLL. “There are some actual acceptable retailers in Puerto Rico that you will see expand.”
The advance is fueled by a leash of factors, said Carlson, who has brash Puerto Rican businesses planning to aggrandize into Florida: Puerto Rico — an island almost the admeasurement of Connecticut — doesn’t accept actual abundant allowance to grow. Economic agitation there has worsened as the government says it can’t pay off the $72 billion it owes. And Puerto Rico gives favorable tax analysis to island firms that aggrandize overseas.
In Florida, those businesses acquisition abundant ground. The cardinal of Puerto Ricans active in the accompaniment has added than angled back 2000, topping 1 actor bodies and allusive New York as the mainland’s better Puerto Rican population, according to the Pew Research Center.
“People — sometimes our best-trained bodies — are abrogation the island en masse, mostly to Central Florida,” Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said in Washington recently. “This amount will alone access as our abridgement continues to deteriorate.”
By the aforementioned token, while Puerto Rican businesses accept so far opened locations about Orlando and Miami, the beachcomber of amplification should hit Tampa aing year, Carlson said. The bounded abridgement is robust, and the Puerto Rican citizenry actuality is growing fast.
According to a contempo address by the acclaim appraisement bureau Moody’s, the cardinal of Puerto Ricans active in Hillsborough County has surpassed Miami-Dade to become the state’s additional most, abaft Orange County.
More than 110,000 Puerto Ricans lived in Hillsborough in 2014, accounting for 8.4 percent of the county’s citizenry afterwards growing 21 percent in bristles years.
“It makes faculty that if added Puerto Ricans are affective to the Florida market, again the business will follow,” said El Meson arch controlling Felipe Pérez.
That has helped draw absorption to the Tampa Bay region, said Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, architect of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Business of Florida. She has pitched the arena to businesses on the island in an accomplishment to access exports, arguing that there’s a bazaar actuality for Puerto Rico-produced products, such as coffee, flowers or cheese. Lately, she said, she has been accepting added interest.
“Tampa is the perfect, perfect, absolute area to do business amid Florida and Puerto Rico,” she said, arguing that it is additional by abbreviate aircraft times and a atom on the Interstate 4 corridor. Plus, JetBlue and Southwest fly ceaseless amid Tampa and San Juan.
Casa Febus affairs to accessible a acting abundance in Tampa aing year to analysis the market, Febus said, and El Meson is because aperture a restaurant actuality in 2017 afterwards accretion added in Orlando, Pérez said.
“To acquaint you the truth, Tampa seems like the best abode to aggrandize afterwards Orlando,” Pérez said. “I anticipate Tampa is growing. It’s a actual able economy.”
But aperture for business abroad from the island presents challenges. It agency rethinking distribution, traveling to accumulate an eye on operations and authoritative adjustments to address to an American audience.
The rewards, amount companies like Casa Febus and El Meson, are account it. They see a adventitious to tap not aloof Florida’s fast-growing Puerto Rican citizenry but a beyond Hispanic admirers as well.
Febus said his aggregation hopes to one day be “the Latin Ikea,” so its food actuality are aggravating a added avant-garde look. Pérez said the restaurants El Meson opens actuality accept bigger dining areas and a “more sophisticated” image.
“We’re attractive abundant broader,” Febus said. “We can depend on Puerto Ricans initially, but we can’t depend on that association alone to advance a business. You accept to aggrandize to added markets.”
Reach Thad Moore at [email protected] Chase @ThadMoore on Twitter.
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