Michelle Dennard on the Future of Florida’s Workforce

Michelle Dennard, President & CEO of CareerSource Florida, recently received a prestigious 40 Under 40 Award in economic development, the only award of its kind recognizing young talent among economic development professionals.  In our latest Florida Horizon series, the Florida Chamber Foundation met with Ms. Dennard to discuss the future of Florida, workforce skills, business talent needs and more.

Florida Horizon with Michelle Dennard


CareerSource Florida is the statewide workforce policy and investment board of business and government leaders charged with guiding workforce development for the state of Florida.  When we met with Ms. Dennard, she discussed how important Floridians are to the economic success of their communities.


“What my experience in economic development and workforce development has taught me is the true opportunity we have as economic developers can transform communities, change lives and that lasting impact we have on Florida and on the communities that we serve lies in the talent, the human capital – the people who live and work in our communities.”


On working with Florida’s businesses:

“For good jobs and meaningful careers to be available to all Floridians, we must have a vibrant and growing business community.”

“We know that no one organization and no one entity can solve Florida’s business talent needs alone. It takes collaboration, commitment and engagement. Listening to that critical voice of business and industry to best meet their talent needs.”


 On Florida’s workforce and employability skills:

“The Florida Jobs 2030 report smartly points out that skills develop is perhaps the core issue in helping learners succeed in a global economy. And yet businesses tell us that they sometimes have trouble filling those positions because the skills they need are not available in the labor market and the available workforce.”



Nearly one in four Florida children live in poverty and more than 3.3 million Floridians don’t know where their next meal will come from. Through the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Prosperity Initiative, Florida’s business community is working to help break the cycle of generational poverty and create greater opportunities for the next generation. In this Florida Horizon series, Ms. Dennard discusses the relationship between workforce and prosperity.


On creating a path to prosperity:

“At CareerSource Florida, we know that often times that path to prosperity begins with a job – turns into a meaningful career – leads to a more skilled and robust talent pipeline and that’s better for Florida businesses. That’s why it’s so important for the business community to engage in these conversations.”


On what prosperity means to Florida:

“As we think about what prosperity means, it’s our responsibility to consider what prosperity means in every zip code.”

“I know and I appreciate the unique characteristics of Florida’s rural communities. We know their populations are declining, their labor force participation rates are declining so as we consider solutions that encourage prosperity, we should be mindful of those solutions that not only work for our cities and our urban areas but also our rural cities and counties.”

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