Foreign Companies Considering Move To Jacksonville

MCSM Services is just one of several foreign business eyeing Jacksonville as a possible location to establish an office or expand their business, said Michael Breen, senior director of the international department of JAXUSA Partnership, formerly Cornerstone Regional Development Partnership.

JAXUSA Partnership, a nonprofit arm of JAXChamber, works to attract companies to Jacksonville from other cities, states and foreign countries. The names of the companies are generally kept confidential.

Chambers of commerce often play a large role in recruiting businesses to their area. Chamber employees work with their counterparts in cities and countries across the world. Enterprise Florida, Florida’s primary statewide economic development organization, also has offices in countries such as Germany, Japan, China and Spain.

Breen introduced Roland van Marlen, a senior partner at MCSM Services, to the area’s benefits at a meeting in Rotterdam. Van Marlen said the company is now strongly considering Jacksonville.

“Florida wasn’t even on the long list,” van Marlen said.

The consulting firm, whose services include assisting small and medium-sized companies with export business plans and market research, is also considering Chicago. However, an office in Jacksonville would mean quick access to a client base that was interested in international trade, van Marlen said. It would also be a better steppingstone to Latin America, a market MCSM Services would like to tap.

“Jacksonville is extremely attractive to European companies,” van Marlen said.

The Dutch company is planning to test the market during November and December, he said. If MCSM Services decides to continue pursuing a U.S. office, it expects to make the decision by March 2012.

Irish company EPIsensor is pretty confident it wants to use Jacksonville as a beachhead, said Henry Nash, vice president of business development and sales. The company, based in Limerick, is considering opening a sales office in Jacksonville.

“There’s quite a lot of business in Florida,” Nash said.

EPIsensor sells a wireless energy monitoring platform that allows high-end energy users to monitor and reduce energy use. The company targets large customers such as hospitals and factories, which can use $5 million to $10 million a year in electricity, Nash said.

The product, which can cost from $500,000 to $1 million, can track usage down to every 15 minutes, Nash said.

Jacksonville is much more attractive than larger cities such as Los Angeles and New York because the initial investment cost is much lower, Nash said. The area also has lower taxes, good universities and a strong workforce.

Breen is also in discussions with other European businesses he would not name. Among those companies are several manufacturers, he said.

One company considering Jacksonville is a German manufacturer of large generators, Breen said. Another is an Italian company that manufactures railroad equipment.

Sarah Mueller
Jacksonville Business Journal