Foreign Enterprise in Florida: The Impact of Non-U.S. Direct Investment

By Mira Wilkins | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
The Nature of the Investment

HISTORY

Foreigners made large land investments in Florida before it became a state. 1 In the late nineteenth century, Hamilton Disston bought four million acres of Florida land for twenty-five cents an acre and attempted to sell this land in Europe. He sold half of it to a British member of Parliament, Sir Edward J. Reed; Reed, however, soon disposed of his purchase. The duke of Sutherland, another early investor, bought thirty acres at Tarpon Springs. 2

Before World War I, non-U. S. companies participated in developing Florida's phosphates. 3 Undoubtedly, foreign money was involved in the Florida land boom of the 1920s. One is, however, struck by the newness of what is here now. Shell Oil, which has been in business in the United States since 1912 and in Florida since 1929, seems exceptional in the duration of its interests. 4 The present-day foreign investments in phosphates bear no relationship to their early predecessors. Investment in land and real estate has mounted in the post-- World War II years, but a substantial portion of non-U. S. investment in the state is as recent as the 1970s; this is particularly true in Florida manufacturing. As the sunbelt states have risen in national economic importance vis-à-vis the older manufacturing areas, Florida has shared in the trend. The South is going through a time of immense economic change. Businesses are moving in, com

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