Downtown Development Authority seeing thriving economic growth in West Palm Beach

'The growth is really strong right now,' executive director says
Posted at 5:22 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 17:23:52-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority said there is a business boom in the downtown area.

The area is capitalizing on an influx of new residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Rebound South Florida

"The growth is really strong right now, maybe the strongest it's ever been," said Raphael Clemente, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. "The number of projects in the downtown area that are in permitting or approved right now, I think, is more than I've ever seen in my more than 15 years at the Downtown Development Authority."

Raphael Clemente, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority
Raphael Clemente says he has been encouraged by the economic growth in West Palm Beach.

It's a reality that would be difficult to imagine more than a year ago.

"To sit here now and think about how far we've come and how long it's been, yeah, it's been a challenge," Clemente said.

He said there is a silver lining.

"We're seeing a lot of new investment from outside of this region come into the downtown area and purchase existing buildings and offices and set plans to renovate them and update them," Clemente said.

Melissa Perlman, founder and president of BlueIvy Communications
Melissa Perlman shares why she opened her business in downtown West Palm Beach.

"Seeing this growth especially in the last year during COVID, with the number of businesses and residents moving down here, we've wanted to be a part of it," said Melissa Perlman, the founder and president of BlueIvy Communications.

Perlman's public relations firm recently opened a new office in the 500 block of Clematis St.

"[We want to] be able to meet the needs of new potential clients, existing clients exactly where they are," Perlman said. "This is the center of the city. This is where the business growth is. This is where we see it continuing."