July 30, 2018
Opportunities That Can Also Overcome Challenges
I’ll never forget where I was on September 29, 2007.
It was a Saturday, and I was in the Atlanta airport, walking to my next connection to catch a flight to D.C. for a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As I was keeping pace with others focused on catching their next flight, I happened to look over and saw a Wall Street Journal newspaper box and was immediately frozen in time.
The front-page headline said, “Is Florida Over?” Well, as the CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, you can probably imagine that it was not the type of headline you’d want to see in one of the nation’s most widely read newspapers.
A few years later, Florida made an incredible economic turnaround, and soon, even the WSJ would notice and write part two of that story – Has Florida found the secret to saving the economy?
Florida has come a long way in the last 10 years. In fact, in the past five years, Florida’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 27.2 percent, a rate that puts Florida’s GDP growth among the top five states in the country. And during the same time, Florida has produced more than 1 out of 11 jobs in the U.S.
As Will Weatherford, Managing Partner of Weatherford Capitol, former Speaker of the Florida House, and Florida Chamber Board member, recently wrote in Florida Politics:
“You would be hard pressed to find another economy with such robust growth. Florida has seen year-over-year GDP growth, jobs continue to be created and our unemployment rate continues to drop and has remained below the national average for the past several years.”
The good news is that Florida continues to break economic records. Earlier this month, Florida’s GDP topped $1 trillion. Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, just this past January, predicted that Florida would reach this new milestone during 2018. And just as Dr. Parrish predicted, Florida officially hit the new $1 trillion GDP in the last few weeks. To put this into perspective, if Florida was an independent country, our $1 trillion economy now ranks us as the 17th largest economy in the world – ahead of Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Argentina. Now, as Dr. Parrish explains, Florida is adding $2.74 billion each day to the state’s GDP.
“Becoming a $1 trillion economy means Florida is continuing to grow and create jobs, keeping unemployment lower than the national average, and creating economic opportunity,” Dr. Parrish said recently.
Florida’s GDP Milestone Garnered the Attention of National and International Headlines
- Palm Beach PostU.S. News
- Orlando Sentinel
- Tampa Bay Times
- The Capitolist
- Atlanta Journal Constitution
- MyFox Memphis
- KISS 104.1
- Dayton Daily News
- WFTV9 ABC
- Sunshine State News.
Of course, achieving a $1 trillion GDP is due in large part to Governor Scott, the Florida Cabinet and Florida Legislature. Consider that, until just a few years ago, Florida punished manufacturing investments twice (once at the state level, once at the local level). At the urging of the Florida Chamber, the legislature and Governor Scott removed the Machinery & Equipment (M&E) sales tax. Understanding that manufacturing jobs have the highest value added, removing this tax is making great strides and helping Florida climb in GDP rankings.
“This is an historic moment for Florida reaching a record $1 trillion in GDP. By working every day to create private-sector jobs, we’ve been able to increase Florida’s GDP by more than $270 billion – 37 percent – since 2010. When I came into office I made it very clear that we would get our economy back on track. Within seven and a half years, private-sector businesses have created more than 1.5 million jobs and Florida’s unemployment is at a low 3.8 percent. Florida’s growing economy is producing real results for families across our state and we now have the 17th largest economy in the world,” said Governor Rick Scott.
“Getting Florida’s economy out of the ditch and back on track has long been one of our state’s top priorities, and today’s announcement that our economy surpassed $1 trillion is incredible news for all Floridians. This milestone is further evidence that the pro-business policies and priorities championed by Governor Scott, the Cabinet and the legislature are working. Florida’s economy is on a roll, but complacency is not a strategy and we must continue to do all that we can to make the Florida’s economy as strong and resilient as possible,” said Adam Putnam, Commissioner of Agriculture.
“Florida’s strong economy is a testament to the work done over the past seven years to create an environment that keeps taxes low, reduces our debt, and makes Florida an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family. When we remove unnecessary burdens and overregulation, businesses can grow and create new jobs, while attracting new talent and companies to our state. It’s important that we continue this growth trend, and the policies that have helped us achieve this feat, to ensure Florida remains a top global economy,” said Jimmy Patronis, Chief Financial Officer.
According to TheFloridaScorecard.org, Florida has created 170,500 jobs over the past year, and has steadily kept unemployment rates below the national average. At the same time, achievement gaps are closing in Florida’s Pre-K-12 system, Florida continues to break visitation records, and our state is continuing to diversify its economy.
And while this growth is good news for Florida, challenges and opportunities remain. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 research initiative (being released this year) shows the gaps Florida must close in order to continue to be globally competitive and grow smarter by 2030 and beyond. Consider that while achievement gaps are closing, 43 percent of 3rd graders aren’t reading at or above grade level. And while 1 in 11 jobs in the nation in the last five years were created in Florida, our state’s 14.8 percent poverty rate includes 21.3 percent of children under age 18. While Florida is better suited than most states in these areas, the Florida Chamber will continue to lead reforms that create economic opportunity.
As former Speaker Weatherford has said, “A $1 trillion economy is proof that when we stay focused on Florida’s long-term future and remain stalwart in our commitment to quality education, free enterprise and an unmatched quality of life, it suggests that we can continue to be one of the most exciting economic stories in the world.”
While we can certainly pay tribute to Florida’s new $1 trillion GDP success, we must also stay focused. The challenges that remain should be viewed as opportunities to further secure Florida’s future. Your dedication toward the common goal of making Florida more competitive, will help ensure that future Wall Street Journal headlines focus on economic prosperity for all.
Register today for Florida’s premier forum focused on growing Florida to its full potential – the 2018 Florida Chamber Foundation Future of Florida Forum.