Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MONEY | County Wealth – Indian River, Fla.

Indian River County, Fla. Economic Summit Meeting, March 2016. That is your blogger in the red shirt.
The Indian River Economic Summit met last week at a restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Vero Beach.

We discussed the Indian River and County and Vero Beach economies.

Indian River County ranks #7 in Florida on per capita income. See chart at right.


Zip Code Economic Analysis

Narrowing down to zip codes, Indian River County includes one of the wealthiest zip codes in the United States (32963, the Barrier Island of Vero Beach, traversed from top to bottom by State Road A1A).

IRS data on Adjusted Gross Income and Income per Return are available for 199 Florida zip codes.

But some of the zip codes cover are enclaves–with a small number of individuals and don't constitute real communities.

So in reviewing Florida's zip codes, we start by deleting those with fewer than 100 tax returns. That gives us the following 25 highest-income zip codes:

City
Zip Code
Returns
AGI
Income per Return
Florida
FLORIDA
6,894,447
294,420,323
$42,704
Miami Beach
33109
191
416,400
$2,180,105
Tallahassee
32306
53
39,727
$749,566
Fort Lauderdale
33394
35
19,786
$565,314
Palm Beach
33480
6,564
3,003,143
$457,517
Pensacola
32581
25
10,526
$421,040
Jacksonville
32232
62
21,027
$339,145
Boca Grande
33921
653
219,622
$336,328
Boca Grande
34630
40
12,216
$305,400
Boca Grande
32749
11
3,001
$272,818
Longboat Key
34228
3,610
972,220
$269,313
Orlando
32827
397
93,075
$234,446
Longwood
32752
361
81,969
$227,061
Vero Beach
32963
6,752
1,505,406
$222,957
Naples
34102
5,576
1,166,510
$209,202
Naples
33341
14
2,846
$203,286
Bradenton
34201
498
100,902
$202,614
Bradenton
33940
828
164,565
$198,750
Pensacola
32589
21
4,147
$197,476
Pineland
33945
204
39,435
$193,309
Miami
33261
420
78,226
$186,252
Boca Raton
33496
10,086
1,802,136
$178,677
Naples
34103
6,084
1,081,434
$177,750
Naples
34108
7,419
1,311,940
$176,835
Bonita Springs
34134
4,619
810,984
$175,576
Miami
33231
46
7,498
$163,000

Now we delete the odd zip codes with fewer than 100 tax returns and focus on the top 10. Look at the four zip codes that have 1,000 or more tax returns filed. These four zip codes stand out as viable communities with high incomes–Palm Beach 33480, Longboat Key 34228, Vero Beach 32963 and Naples 34102. Vero Beach ranks #3. The smallest is Longboat Key and the largest is Vero Beach. All four communities have cultural facilities that punch way above their weight for communities of their size.

1
Miami Beach
33109
191
416,400
$2,180,105
2
Palm Beach
33480
6,564
3,003,143
$457,517
3
Boca Grande
33921
653
219,622
$336,328
4
Longboat Key
34228
3,610
972,220
$269,313
5
Orlando
32827
397
93,075
$234,446
6
Longwood
32752
361
81,969
$227,061
7
Vero Beach
32963
6,752
1,505,406
$222,957
8
Naples
34102
5,576
1,166,510
$209,202
9
Bradenton
34201
498
100,902
$202,614
10
Bradenton
33940
828
164,565
$198,750

How does this play out in Vero Beach?

The Indian River Library is an indicator of the importance of being a wealthy community. It has benefited not only from the county's strong tax base but also from significant gifts that increase the library's usefulness to its patrons:
  • A new two-story Main Library opened in 1991 and a bequest to the library by the Julian W. Lowenstein family in 1985 has been used to help construct a new library building with a much-expanded 2nd floor.
  • It now houses The Florida History and Genealogy Department, reference department and reading room, bearing the name of Mr. Lowenstein.
  • The library owns a microfilm copy of the entire U.S. census from 1790 to 1860. 
  • The county commissioners approved funds to expand the children's, reference and genealogy departments. Between 1991 and 2002, the genealogy department quadrupled in size to 4,000 square feet.
  • It includes the Indian River County Historical Society photographs (5000+) and documents (20+ boxes) to the library's "Archive Center", which now has more than 35,000 titles, 40,000 microfiches, 11,000 microfilms, 9 computers and Wi-Fi.
At the end of the last century the library was first or second in Florida in per capita attendance at adult programs and new borrowers.  This may account for the three negative reviews on Yelp of the library's services in 2013 and 2015 in comparison with, for example, the County Library branch at Sebastian. But one goes to a library primarily to look for books and other documents, and secondarily for the services of the staff, so it might be a good trade to go to the busier library even though the staff may be busier and less generous with their time than in a library with fewer books and patrons.

St. Edward's School – and the Classical Orchestra that performs there – is another gem in Vero Beach.

The Vero Art Museum and the Riverside Theater are two more institutions that are astonishingly vigorous for such a small community.

The Indian River Medical Center his attracting talented doctors in a variety of fields. The Vero Beach Regional Airport is a joy to use as an alternative to Orlando, West Palm Beach or Melbourne.

New attractions are picking up support like the Indian River Historical Society.
Our Summit over, we agree on a positive outlook for the
Indian River County economy.

Indian River State College is a community college with some B.A. degree offerings in public service and agricultural fields for which demand for skilled help n the region is high.

For advanced degrees students attend institutions in neighboring cities with academic faculties offering master's and doctoral programs.

The Economic Summit meeting concluded with a general sense of optimism about the county's economy, with a diverse base of supporting institutions and available labor for agricultural, cultural, real estate, retail, medical and sports employers.

The Summit members were, however, concerned that local priorities remain focused on adequate protection of the environmental attractions that draw visitors and retirees to the area. This means controlled growth and aggressive precautions to avoid or prepare for natural and man-made disasters.