The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Work Florida Initiative proudly welcomes David Cross, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida’s Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Administration, as an inaugural Advisory Board member.
Launched in 2022, the Future of Work Florida Initiative includes a multi-year plan to unite and harness the power of thousands of Florida businesses, dozens of local chambers, economic development groups, education partners, HR leaders, hiring managers, and more to turn the current workforce crisis into a competitive strength for Florida.
Founded in 2015 as the local independent Coca-Cola bottler, Coke Florida employs more than 4,600 associates across its integrated business functions, including manufacturing, sales, warehousing, distribution, equipment, and professional services. Cross has played a pivotal role in the strategy and oversight of all HR functions since the company’s inception.
“We’re focusing on Florida’s workforce challenges and seeking to understand what job opportunities will look like in the future,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson. “David brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Initiative from his extensive career as an executive in the Coca-Cola system and the retail industry.”
Cross joins other inaugural Future of Work Florida Initiative Advisory Board members, including Mike Brannen, Senior Vice President at Miller Electric Company; Vicki Greene, SVP of Americas, Workforce Skills Division for Pearson; Brooke Malsberger, Director of Global Talent Acquisition, Rotary and Mission Systems for Lockheed Martin; Sarah Marmion, Manager of Education and Outreach Centers for Florida Power & Light Company; Sam Verghese, Chief Operations Officer of Florida Virtual School; and Bill Solomon, Dean of Workforce Education & Advancement Technology with Indian River State College.
“There is a massive information gap between employers and job seekers, between today’s students and career opportunities that they may pursue,” said Wilson. “As a result, the Future of Work Florida Initiative seeks to champion the value of work and raise awareness of career possibilities to close the existing workforce skills gap and enhance Florida’s future talent pipeline.”
Historically, the popular narrative has been that earning a 4-year degree is the only way to have a promising career. Now, our economy has an increasing deficit in workers who fill essential roles across the state. To continue moving the needle and support the growth of Florida’s population and economy, a change in the narrative around career and technical education (CTE), skilled trades, apprenticeships, on-the-job experience, and other career pathways outside of a traditional 4-year university track is necessary. While once labeled as “dirty, dumb, and dangerous,” our research shows that “next Florida” jobs of the future in skilled trades are “clean, innovative, and lucrative.”
“Florida has a bright future and is leaping into the next stages of expansion and pursuing economic diversification,” said David Cross, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Administration for Coke Florida. “As we look towards growth, collectively, we must be diligent in developing and expanding a full suite of job opportunities for those looking to work here. It is vital to provide enough opportunities for skilled workers in manufacturing, warehousing, sales, distribution, technology, professional services, and other career paths that do not always require traditional college degrees.”
To meet customer and consumer demands across its Florida footprint, Coke Florida has stable jobs serving numerous functions that it is looking to fill, a challenge that many businesses face in this competitive marketplace.
On its path to becoming a top 10 global economy, Florida needs to create an estimated 1.62 million net new jobs by 2030. However, with 603,619 open jobs currently and only 303,000 people actively looking for work, there are far more open jobs than people actively looking for employment. While jobs may evolve, there likely will be enough opportunities for everyone who wants to participate in the workforce.
Approximately 72% of Florida’s business leaders report having trouble recruiting qualified candidates. Additionally, 58.4% of businesses anticipate the need to provide current employees with reskilling/upskilling to meet emerging workforce needs. This disparity can be further explored through the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Workforce Needs Study, which indicates that the most in-demand professions lack the available and qualified talent to meet Florida’s current and future economic needs. Thus, through the Foundation’s Future of Work Initiative, business communities are working together to harness our state’s power to find solutions that connect our great people with great jobs.
To learn more about the Future of Work Florida Initiative, visit www.FLChamber.com/FutureofWorkFlorida.
About Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida) is a family-owned Coca-Cola bottler. Coke Florida has an exclusive sales and distribution territory that covers over 21 million consumers across 47 Florida counties, and includes the major metropolitan markets of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Coke Florida markets, sells, manufactures, distributes, and merchandises over 600 products of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies. The company is the third largest privately held and the sixth largest Coca-Cola bottler in the United States. Coke Florida was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida. The company is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified company, the largest Black-owned business in Florida, and one of the largest Black-owned businesses in the United States. In 2022, Coke Florida was named a US Best Managed Company by Deloitte-Private and The Wall Street Journal joining an elite group of private companies holding this designation. To learn more, visit www.cocacolaflorida.com.