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Downtrodden but not whipped, Sunbelt economies are resurging

Friday, March 16th, 2012
John Sikaitis

John Sikaitis, SVP of Research, Jones Lang Lasalle

Recent economic and real estate factors indicate that most of the Sunbelt geographies have already hit their cyclical lows and during the next six to 12 months are likely to surpass national growth rates, according to a special office report issued by Jones Lang LaSalle.

Many of these areas are also hotspots for the digital economy, particularly San Diego, LA, and South Florida. This is also more evidence for something we have pointed out repeatedly at the TechJournal – the resilient U.S. economy is climbing out of its recessionary doldrums.

Although nearly all areas of the U.S. were negatively impacted by the recession, some of the hardest hit were the Sunbelt markets of Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orange County, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

“The Sunbelt markets witnessed substantial drops in their overall economies in 2007-2009 with relatively no recovery in 2010-2011. However, despite ongoing negative perceptions, most of these markets are undergoing a resurgence and poised for dramatic changes in 2012 and beyond,” said John Sikaitis, Senior Vice President of Research at Jones Lang LaSalle.

“These economic upswings bring much optimism for future office and employment levels, as well as investor interest for the capital markets.”

Sunbelt office recovery indicates future gains to surpass national levels
Currently nearly all Sunbelt markets posted substantial upticks in occupancy, experienced declines in vacancy and moved closer to seeing office rents and concession levels hit bottom.

In 2011, occupancy gains in these beaten-down housing economies totaled nearly 6.0 million square feet and provided evidence that, as we move forward in 2012, most of these geographies will start to outpace the national recovery.

This resurgence is due to strengthening employment, migration and housing market shifts with absorption rates in the 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent range across most the Sunbelt geographies.

Sunbelt-wide employment gains outperforming national averages of late and picking up speed month by month
Markets such as Jacksonville, Miami, Orange County, San Diego, Tampa and West Palm Beach have surpassed the national average in total non-farm, private and professional and business services (PBS) job growth.

Floridian markets have dominated the jobs recovery of late: Jacksonville’s 5.9 percent annual increase in PBS jobs is among the largest in the nation, whileTampa’s 2.5+ percent annual growth in all measures shows signs of revival and diversification. Miami also surpasses both national expectations, increasing at around 1.9 percent overall annually.

Sunbelt migration trends starting to turn positive
In terms of domestic migration, the majority of Sunbelt cities display a common pattern: a net loss of residents in 2007, shifting to an inflow of residents in 2008 or 2009 and then stable, yet increasing, population growth in 2010 and through 2011.

Nearly 75 percent of the Sunbelt markets are now, once again, showing significant positive migration with Florida reporting the largest increase of at least 20 percent. As the hub to Latin America, Miami and Fort Lauderdale are leading the charge due to strong immigration trends from Latin America that drive population, business and economic growth.

Sunbelt’s housing crunch on the verge of stabilizing
Since their pre-recession peaks, housing markets within the Sunbelt have experienced drastic reductions in price and sale volume, far greater than any other region of the United States. In most cases, these housing markets have yet to begin recovery.

However, as a result of positive office demand growth, employment and migration indicators, there is a strong chance that most of these geographies are hitting their market low and will soon begin to recover, if this has not begun already.

Since employment and other indicators point to recovery while housing prices are only beginning to stabilize or in some cases are still decreasing, continued economic, employment and office sector growth will lead to gradual, but steady, gains in the housing sector moving forward.

2007 levels far off but future gains are on the horizon
Vital to the continued improvement of most Sunbelt geographies in 2012 will be consistent gains in employment across multiple sectors with emphasis on diversifying economies.

Since job performance has remained either constant or accelerating in these metropolitan areas not only among themselves, but also outpacing national results, it is probable that most Sunbelt markets will recover faster than the U.S. as a whole in 2012 and 2013.  They will see rebounds in their housing markets as well, driving even further office demand from the housing-sectors (i.e. homebuilding, mortgage companies, etc.)

Sikaitis added, “Whereas migratory patterns drove the Sunbelt to unprecedented growth in the pre-recession years, those patterns will now be reflective of recent strong office recovery in these markets, being more economically sustainable and diverse than before with the potential to surpass the rest of the country.

“Even with these positive shifts, most of these geographies are two to three years away from returning to pre-2007 levels; so, while we are upbeat about the recovery for these markets, we remain realistic and guarded in the fact that we are not yet back to 2006 territory and likely will not be until the 2014-2015 timeframe.”

Open Table names 100 U.S. restaurants providing best service

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

OpenTableBusiness travelers frequently need restaurants that have great food, but also good service, since they’re often on the run. If you’re looking for U.S. restaurants with top notch service, here’s some help from Open Table.

OpenTable, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN), a  provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, has disclosed the 2012 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the 100 restaurants in the United States providing the best service.

Open Table founder Chuck Templeton is among the top speakers at the Southeast Venture Conference which started this morning in Tysons Corner, VA, and runs through tomorrow.  Templeton created and defined the restaurant reservation space after founding OpenTable in 1998, after his wife spent a frustrating evening one night trying to make dinner reservations for his visiting in-laws one night in San Francisco.

OpenTable’s successful IPO in 2009 was a milestone that helped to reopen the public market for tech companies.

Awards reflect millions of opinions

These awards reflect the combined opinions of nearly 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Regionally, the honorees span 29 states and Washington, D.C. The South reinforces the notion of southern hospitality, with 22 restaurants in the region being singled out for best service. The Northeast boasts 15 winning restaurants, including 10 in New York alone.

The Pacific region accounts for 14 winners, 10 of which are in California, as does the Mid-Atlantic, with six restaurants in Virginia claiming spots. Eleven winners come from the Great Lakes Region, four of which are in the Twin Citiesarea.

The Pacific Northwest and the Southwest follow with seven honorees apiece. The Rocky Mountain States count five winners, while the Central Plains has four, three of which are in Missouri. One restaurant in Hawaii also earned a nod.

American food restaurants rack up 40 winners

Superior service can be found across a number of cuisines. Restaurants serving American food, however, account for 40 winners. French restaurants earned 25 places on the list.

Steakhouses followed with 17 spots. Seven Italian restaurants are among the winners. Other cuisines include continental, global international, Japanese, seafood, and sushi.

“The most memorable part of a meal may not be just what’s on your plate, but also, that exceptional staffer who goes the extra step to ensure an enjoyable dining experience,” says Caroline Potter, OpenTable’s Chief Dining Officer.

“These winning restaurants understand this concept and have consciously created a culture of hospitality that is embraced by both front and back of house professionals. Whether it’s a grand gesture, such as a tour of the kitchen, or a simple one, like a warm smile from an attentive server, diners are coming away from these restaurants feeling special.”

The Diners’ Choice Awards for the top 100 restaurants providing the best service are generated from nearly 5 million reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between February 2011 and January 2012. All restaurants with a minimum number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the highest average rating in the service category.

Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the top 100 restaurants with the best service in the U.S. according to OpenTable diners.

The complete list may also be viewed athttp://www.opentable.com/bestservice.

2012 Diners’ Choice Award Winners for Restaurants in the U.S. with the Best Service

Acqua Restaurant & Wine Bar – White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Acquerello – San Francisco, California

Addison at The Grand Del Mar – San Diego, California

Bacchanalia – Atlanta, Georgia

Bibou – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Binkley’s Restaurant – Cave Creek, Arizona

Bistro L’Hermitage – Woodbridge, Virginia

Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, New York

Bluestem – Kansas City, Missouri

Bones – Atlanta, Georgia

Cafe Renaissance – Vienna, Virginia

Canlis – Seattle, Washington

Capital Grille – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Castagna – Portland, Oregon

Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse – Downers Grove, Illinois

Charleston – Baltimore, Maryland

Charleston Grill – Charleston, South Carolina

Chez Francois – Vermilion, Ohio

Chez Nous French Restaurant – Humble, Texas

CityZen – Washington, D.C.

Congress – Austin, Texas

The Copper Door – Hayesville, North Carolina

Corbett’s Fine Dining – Louisville, Kentucky

Cyrus – Healdsburg, California

Daniel – New York, New York

Daniel-Lounge Seating – New York, New York

Del Posto – New York, New York

Dewz – Modesto, California

The Dining Room-Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina

Eleven Madison Park – New York, New York

Elizabeth on 37th – Savannah, Georgia

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant – Forestville, California

Fat Canary – Williamsburg, Virginia

Fearrington House Restaurant – Pittsboro, North Carolina

Fig Tree – Charlotte, North Carolina

Forage – Salt Lake City, Utah

Fountain Restaurant – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Frasca Food and Wine – Boulder, Colorado

The French Room – Dallas, Texas

Genoa Restaurant – Portland, Oregon

Gordon Ramsay at the London – New York, New York

The Grill-The Ritz Carlton – Naples, Florida

Grouse Mountain Grill – Avon, Colorado

Halls Chophouse – Charleston, South Carolina

Hannas Prime Steak – Rancho Santa Margarita, California

Herons – Cary, North Carolina

Highlands Bar & Grill – Birmingham, Alabama

The Hobbit – Orange, California

joan’s in the Park – St. Paul, Minnesota

Kai-Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort – Chandler, Arizona

Killen’s Steakhouse – Pearland, Texas

The Kitchen Restaurant – Sacramento, California

La Belle Vie – Minneapolis, Minnesota

La Grenouille – New York, New York

La Mer at Halekulani – Honolulu, Hawaii

L’Auberge Chez Francois – Great Falls, Virginia

Le Bernardin – New York, New York

Les Nomades – Chicago, Illinois

L’Etoile Restaurant – Madison, Wisconsin

Madrona Manor – Healdsburg, California

Mahogany Prime Omaha – Omaha, Nebraska

Marcel’s – Washington, D.C.

The Melting Pot – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Menton – Boston, Massachusetts

Michael’s-South Point Casino — Las Vegas, Nevada

Mitchell’s Ocean Club – Columbus, Ohio

Morton’s The Steakhouse – Portland, Oregon

New York Prime – Myrtle Beach, Florida

Niche – St. Louis, Missouri

Nicholas – Red Bank, New Jersey

o ya – Boston, Massachusetts

Opus 9 Steakhouse – Williamsburg, Virginia

Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio

The Painted Lady – Newberg, Oregon

Palace Arms at the Brown Palace – Denver, Colorado

Peninsula Grill – Charleston, South Carolina

Pepper Tree Restaurant – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Per Se – New York, New York

Plume at the Jefferson Hotel – Washington, D.C.

Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse – Dallas, Texas

The Restaurant at Meadowood – Saint Helena, California

Restaurant Iris – Memphis, Tennessee

Rover’s – Seattle, Washington

Rudy & Paco’s Restaurant & Bar – Galveston, Texas

Russell’s Steaks, Chops, and More – Williamsville, New York

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Jacksonville, Florida

Saint Jacques French Cuisine – Raleigh, North Carolina

Sedgley Place – Greene, Maine

Sonoma – Princeton, Massachusetts

St. John’s Restaurant – Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Steak House at Silver Reef – Ferndale, Washington

Tony’s – St. Louis, Missouri

TRU – Chicago, Illinois

Uchi – Austin, Texas

Uchiko – Austin, Texas

Vetri – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse – Las Vegas, Nevada

Vintage Tavern – Suffolk, Virginia

White Barn Inn – Kennebunk, Maine

Woodfire Grill – Atlanta, Georgia

Diners can also read more about the Diners’ Choice Awards for the Best Service restaurants in the U.S. by visiting OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter’s “Dining Check” blog.

Which U.S. cities are best for tech jobs?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

SeattleWhat are the best cities for technology jobs now? You can probably guess that Seattle, would be high on the list, and it indeed came in at number one on a list compiled by newgeography.com. But if you guessed the Silicon Valley, you would be wrong.

The Valley, despite a concentration of tech jobs- six times the national average – it came in at 17 on the site’s list of the top 51 cities for tech jobs. It points out that the Valley was one of the biggest tech job losers over the last decade, dropping 80,000 positions, despite the more recent dot-com funding craze.

San Francisco itself is way down at number 29.

Newgeography used high-tech employment data from EMSI, an economic modeling firm. It then charted those areas that have gained the most high-tech manufacturing, software and services jobs over the past 10 years.

The top ten, newgeography says, are:

Seattle, Baltimore, Columbus, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Jacksonville, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Riverside/San Bernardino, and San Diego.

The next batch inlcudes more surprises: Indianapolis is 11, Buffalo 12, San Antonio 13, and Charlotte 14. Boston is way down at 22.

Factors affecting high-tech job creation, the site says, include the presence of a major research university – although that wasn’t of much help to Boston, which lost 45,000 tech jobs (18 percent) in the last decade.

Business costs are another factor. They’re high in the Valley, Boston, and the Bay area, less so in many of top ten cities. Even low business costs are not a sure path to tech job creation though. Texas has good business metrics, but nevertheless experienced losses in tech jobs, primarily due to cutbacks in telecom, electronics, and communications equipment manufacturing.

Personally, we think a careful look at the results of this study suggest something we’ve said all along: big manufacturing operations are not the be all and end all of job creation. Placing an emphasis on creating a welcoming atmosphere for startup tech companies is a better way to go, and some areas, including Durham in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, are taking that route.

Newgeography suggests that two up and comers in this decade might be Detroit, which it says “has some real high-tech mojo,” and New Orleans, which has expanded its tech workforce by about 10 percent since 2009.

DC, Baltimore, Raleigh-Durham, among top ten cities for staying young

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Capitol BuildingSAN DIEGO–Want to live a longer life? Move to Salt Lake City, the DC-Balitmore area, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill,  San Francisco, or Austin. On the other hand, Knoxville and Nashville, TN, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, and Tampa and Jacksonville, FL, may make you old before your time. So says and new report by RealAge.

Southeast and western cities are among the top ten on RealAge’s list of the “youngest” cities in America—metropolitan areas with such healthy lifestyles that on average their residents are physically at least two years younger than their chronological age, and many are years younger than that. RealAge analyzed data from the largest 50 metropolitan areas to compile the rankings.

A passion for fitness and a loathing for smoking are key factors in Salt Lake City’s number one ranking. At the other extreme, residents of Knoxville, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, and Nashville are aging faster than they should. (Get an infographic of the 10 youngest and oldest cities here.)

What are the 10 metro areas where you have the best odds of staying young?

1. Salt Lake City, Utah
2. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Calif.
3. Austin, Texas
4. Denver, Colo.
5. Boston, Mass.
6. Washington, DC/Baltimore, Md.
7. San Diego, Calif.
8. Raleigh-Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C.
9. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
10. Seattle/Tacoma/Bremerton, Wash.

Which metro areas are likely to make you old before your time?

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C.
3. Nashville, Tenn.
4. Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Mich.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.
7. Oklahoma City, Okla.
8. Las Vegas, Nev.
9. Jacksonville, Fla.
10. Tulsa, Okla.

“Each city’s ranking is more than just a number,” says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of RealAge and a co-creator of its test. “It’s a unique assessment of the healthy lifestyles, or lack of them, in each metro area—of how people live there, what they’re doing right and what they need to change. If you live in one of the 10 oldest cities, take this as the alarm on your body’s aging clock going off! It’s never too late for a fresh start.”

Note that half of the 10 youngest cities are in the Western U.S., from Denver to Seattle.

“Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the mountains, but Western cities have adopted active lifestyles that can slow down the aging process,” says Dr. Roach.

Behind the Rankings

To compile the rankings, RealAge analyzed data for America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas generated by its landmark online assessment, the RealAge Test, taken by over 27 million people. This is the first time the company has analyzed aggregated results on a city-by-city basis.

A random sample of 1,000 RealAge members was drawn from each city. The sample data was adjusted for age differences, so a metropolitan area that’s a magnet for retirees wasn’t penalized, and a city jammed with university students didn’t benefit.

The Test uses a powerful algorithm that combines the latest scientific studies with lifestyle, genetics, and medical history to calculate your RealAge—how old your body thinks you are.

What Makes a City Younger or Older

While multiple lifestyle factors are involved, here are four big ones that help people in Boston (the 5th youngest city), for example, stay younger and healthier than those in Cincinnati (the 5th oldest):

     
1.   Getting the right amount of sleep. Six of the 10 youngest cities are among those with stellar sleep habits. And (surprise) New York isn’t the city that never sleeps—the Big Apple ranks second in ZZZ’s; Austin is first. Sleeping six to nine hours a night can make your RealAge as much as 3 years younger.
2.   Stubbing out cigarettes for good. Four of the five fastest-aging cities have the highest percentage of smokers.
3.   Not sitting around. Six of the 10 youngest cities are among the most physically active in the country. A daily 30-minute walk can make your RealAge up to 3.5 years younger.
4.   Controlling your blood pressure. Five of the 10 fastest-aging cities—Knoxville, Cincinnati, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, and Tulsa—are among the worst for high blood pressure. Nothing ages you faster. Who has the lowest BP? Residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the 9th youngest city.

TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:
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Internet Summit: www.internetsummit.com
Digital East: www.digitaleast.com
Digital Summit: www.digitalsummit.com

GXHC raising $50M to fund medical device portfolio & new companies

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

doctors with medical deviceJACKSONVILLE, FL – GXHC, a Jacksonville-based medical device development manager and portfolio investor, says it is raising $50 million to fund its medical device portfolio and additional proprietary US device companies.

GXHC provides its portfolio companies management and development resources through its affiliated medical device developer and business accelerator Gyrx.

The current GXHC portfolio consists of five companies that have developed an array of surgical products that include Pro-Vas, a less invasive alternative to traditional vasectomy; ArthroSteer, steerable instruments for hip arthroscopy; SurgiSteer, laproscopic instruments for computer assisted and single port surgery; ImTac, a fixation device for hernia repair; SpineSteer, instruments for minimally invasive spine surgery; and Procervica, a sensing glove to measure cervical size during pregnancy.

“While over the past years we have raised greater than $20 million through angel investors, our funding requirements have exceeded this capital attainment method. Moreover, we have a pipeline of first and second round medical device companies that also require capital and business assistance. These inventive businesses, the backbone of our industry, usually have a difficult time attracting capital from large VC concerns so we are directing our efforts to this investment niche,” says Bill Dennis, CEO.

Florida’s FIS acquiring Compliance Coach

Monday, June 14th, 2010

FISJACKSONVILLE, FL – FIS (NYSE:FIS), one of the world’s largest providers of banking and payments technology, is acquring Compliance Coach Inc., which sells risk assessment software, e-learning and other tools aimed at enabling compliance with laws and regulations. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is a strategic move by FIS to enhance its overall compliance strategy. FIS will assume ownership of Compliance Coach’s flagship products that include Regulatory University, Compliance Risk Indicator and Compliance Pal. These solutions currently support approximately 1,500 clients, including seven of the top 10 banks within the financial services industry.

FIS delivers banking and payments technologies to more than 14,000 financial institutions and businesses in over 100 countries worldwide.