The Florida sun shines over an economic outlook that is brighter than ever before. As one of few states with employment surpassing pre-pandemic levels, a record-breaking GDP, childhood poverty numbers on the decline, global tech titans establishing roots, and infrastructure poised for smart growth and development, Florida is on its way to claiming its spot as a top 10 global economy – Florida’s future is as good as gold.
With Florida’s continued growth and diversification, now is the time for Florida’s business leaders to unite around securing Florida’s future. Florida has become a national model in recent years with $2.7 million of income migrating to Florida every hour of every day and Florida’s #1 ranking in America for higher education, even amidst the world’s economic recession and a global pandemic. Now it is Florida’s moment to continue moving towards the golden future for all Floridians that remains on our horizon.
The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 Blueprint outlines 39 goals, within its Six Pillars Strategic Framework, to grow Florida to a top 10 global economy by 2030. There are 3.5 million net new residents expected to call Florida home by 2030 and 1.62 million net new jobs will need to be created. To prepare for this growth, focus needs to be set on improving Florida’s talent pipeline for a better workforce, creating good jobs by diversifying Florida’s economy, preparing Florida’s infrastructure for smart growth and development, building a perfect climate for business, making civics and government more efficient and effective, and championing Florida’s quality of life.
Florida’s workforce crisis is still alive as Florida currently has 464,362 open jobs and only 266,000 people actively looking for work. Research from the Florida Chamber Foundation has determined many in-demand jobs stem from the career technical education paths, as opposed to those requiring a 4-year degree. As a result, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Work Florida Initiative is aimed at creating America’s best workforce by bringing back the “coolness” of skilled trades through emphasizing their importance in our economy, as well as the lucrative and innovative opportunities they bring.
Looking deeper into workforce crisis solutions, we can trace skill and education gaps all the way back to elementary education and childhood poverty. Currently 773,801 Florida Children are living in poverty, with half living in only 150 of Florida’s 983 zip codes, and only 53% of Florida third graders are reading at or above grade level. According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Prosperity Project research, inequality of education and workforce development is one of the 10 root causes of poverty.
To help the business community further invest in their local communities and identify needs, the Florida Gap Map has been reimagined and leveled up. This tool grants the user control over nearly 100 metrics at the zip code level, such as childhood poverty numbers and elementary reading scores, with customizable dashboards to identify where resources are needed most and equip our community and state partners with information to lead. Ensuring Florida’s golden future entails providing the next generation with opportunities for earned success and investing in solutions to the most pressing issues facing them today. Today’s learners are tomorrow’s earners.
Many aspects that make Florida competitive and attractive for companies across the globe are the very advantages some special interest groups want to eliminate in efforts to make Florida more like New York or California. The Florida Chamber is determined to stand up for Florida’s future and to keep Florida, Florida through its commitment to growing a strong, diverse economy and to keep regulatory red tape and local business tax low to retain our competitive edge on a global scale.
With strong foundational industries like agricultural, tourism, defense and construction, Florida has also grown to become an international powerhouse, diverse enough to attract businesses of all sizes and across all industries for continued economic growth. Moving Florida forward towards growing to a top 10 global economy by 2030 cannot be done alone. We as Florida business leaders must unite to capitalize on the immense potential that lies on Florida’s horizon.
Florida’s future is as good as gold, but we need every Florida business at the table in order to secure it. Join the movement to secure Florida’s future and unite with Florida business leaders for good at the 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum on October 24-25th at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida. To register, visit www.FlChamber.com/F3.
Mark Wilson is President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce