Cornerstone: Foundations for Economic Leadership (1989)

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In the 1990s and beyond, Florida can be a leadership economy that helps set the pace for the rest of the nation. Already a leader in population and employment growth, Florida can build a world-competitive economy based on a dynamic mix of productive manufacturing and service industries that create a rising standard of living for all Florida residents. Moving well beyond regional leadership.

However, to be a leadership economy Florida must learn to compete nationally and internationally on the basis of higher productivity by adding value to products and services, not simply on the basis of low cost. Florida traditionally has seen low costs as its competitive advantage, but in the new global economy, economic advantage comes from higher productivity and added value.

Achieving this vision of Florida’s future requires a commitment by the state’s leaders to build stronger economic foundations in high-quality human resources, accessible technology, capital availability, and forward-looking physical infrastructure while maintaining a high quality of life, a competitive tax and regulatory environment, and strong economic development programs. These are the new elements fo a competitive business climate that are required to add value to Florida’s people. These critical foundations are required for the growth of dynamic industrial clusters in Florida ranging from biomedical, information and space industries to business services, tourism and experience industries , and value-added agriculture.

In short, Florida’s potential is great, but its economic future is not guaranteed. In fact, Florida faces a number of major challenges. Florida’s current industrial structure and economic foundations are not yet adequate for meeting the competitive future ahead and for generating high real incomes for the state’s workers. Significant reductions in defense spending could threaten Florida’s technology industries, and Florida remains vulnerable to major shifts in retirement patterns or tourism. Growing high-productivity industries in the future will require correcting competitive weaknesses in Florida’s current human resource, technology, capital and transportation foundations.

Cornerstone provides new strategic directions for building those strong foundations to support the high-quality, value-added industries that are essential for a leadership economy. Florida leaders with courage and vision need to make the choices today that will make Florida America’s next great state.