utcxcccFor United Technologies Corp., Palm Beach Gardens’ approval of a planned Center for Intelligent Buildings paves the way for what the company boasts will be a cutting-edge facility showcasing innovations in green energy standards.

“It’s going to be a really cool building,” said Sara David, UTC’s vice president for legal affairs.

For Palm Beach Gardens, the Oct. 8 vote was another W in the effort to brand the north county city of 50,000 as a hub for corporate headquarters or key installations.

“Palm Beach Gardens is an address people want to be in,” said City Manager Ron Ferris.

Palm Beach Gardens, Ferris says, pitches itself as a welcoming home for company HQs and expansion in key fields including aeronautical, financial and medical. They are well on their way, and Ferris says Palm Beach Gardens residents and corporate clients stand to benefit.

Ferris points to a slide his team prepared for a budget meeting showing that residents are spared from paying a utility tax, or solid waste fees or even a fire assessment. He says a diversified tax base with businesses decidedly in the mix goes a long way toward covering operating costs.

Bringing non-biotechnology technology is refashioning the decade-plus wish to build a tech cluster in this region. In the early 2000s, the state offered $310 million in federal stimulus dollars to mushroom a biotech cluster by bringing The Scripps Research Institute to northern Palm Beach County.

It hasn’t exactly turned out that way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow a more generic tech base, Ferris says.

“The world changed from when (then-Gov.) Jeb (Bush), and all of us, had the initial vision,” said Ferris. “You can’t go back to the pre-change strategy. If you don’t change, you’re not going to survive.”

Landing UTC’s Center for Intelligent Buildings — a 241,000-square-foot complex featuring LEED platinum innovation — proves there’s plenty of room for technology, regardless of the sector or brand.

“Palm Beach Gardens was attractive for a lot of reasons,” said UTC’s David.

She added that the company’s 50-year history with northern Palm Beach County naturally sparked initial interest. So did Palm Beach Gardens’ proximity to three international airports, she noted, plus the year-round climate.

But there was another not-so-common answer: the high-technology cluster that has formed in and around Palm Beach Gardens.

“Absolutely a factor,” said David. “Having a high-tech employee base nearby is very important.”

Palm Beach Post
By Antonio Fins