The Future of Florida’s Rural Communities
By: Katherine Bustamante
Addressing Workforce Training, Increasing Connectivity to the Internet, Ensuring Economic Prosperity Will Help Create Economic Growth
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Nov. 13, 2017) – The Florida Chamber Foundation today joined leaders at the Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee to discuss job creation and economic development in Florida’s rural communities.
“When the recession hit, Florida was one of the states hit the hardest and the longest,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist at the Florida Chamber Foundation. “What our Florida 2030 research continues to show us is that jobs and economic opportunity matter.”
Dr. Jerry Parrish presented research findings during a panel focused on rural economic development. Other panelist included: Amy Baker of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, Laura Youmans, Associate Director with the Florida Association of Counties, and Antonio Jefferson, the City Manager of Gretna, Gadsden County.
Research compiled by the Florida Chamber Foundation and presented today shows major trends in Florida’s rural communities:
- While recovery from the great recession has been uneven, Florida is better than the national average: From 2007 to December 2016, 46.3% of Florida’s counties have more jobs now, compared to the U.S. average of 37.5%.
- Some Florida counties, particularly rural counties, are losing population, meaning that those left in a community will be faced with paying higher taxes. One solution to this is to expand jobs and a community’s tax base through job creation, entrepreneurship training, and opportunities for growth
- Increasing connectivity, from transportation to access to internet, could be one key to furthering rural economic development efforts and could help diversify Florida’s workforce.
- Research found in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity Report shows that some of Florida’s rural areas are highly correlated with high poverty rates. The report also highlights the dual-causality between poverty and disability, meaning those living in poverty are often disabled, and those who have a disability are more likely to live in poverty.
The Florida Chamber Foundation traveled to each of Florida’s 67 counties and heard from more than 10,000 Floridians as part of its Florida 2030 initiative. As we prepare for 2030, Florida is estimated to have 26 million residents and we will need 2 million net new jobs. Focusing on economic prosperity for both individuals and businesses will ensure Florida can prepare for 2030 and beyond.
“By working on this issue, you aren’t just working on rural prosperity,” said Dr. Parrish. “You’re actually working on economic prosperity for all Floridians.”