Florida faces a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform its economy by becoming a global hub for trade, logistics, and export oriented manufacturing activities.
Florida has long been an important consumer market and a gateway for trade between the United States and Latin American and Caribbean nations. Over the next decade, several trends will position Florida for a larger, more commanding role as a trade hub:
- Florida is located in the fastest growing U.S. business and consumer market, the arc of southern states from Texas to Virginia.
- Florida also is located at the crossroads of growing north-south and eastwest trade lanes, with access to more than 1.1 billion consumers in the Western Hemisphere by 2035.
- The widening of the Panama Canal, together with the growth in Latin American and Caribbean markets, will realign global trade lanes and increase flows through this region in the coming decades.
Trade, logistics, and distribution industries employed 531,000 Floridians in 2009, with an average wage nearly 30 percent higher than the average for all industries in the state. Including spinoff jobs in related industries, trade and logistics support about 1.7 million jobs in Florida, nearly 22 percent of employment in the state.
Florida faces three major opportunities to take advantage of these changing trade patterns to revitalize its economy. Florida can:
- Capture a larger share of the containerized imports originating in Asia and serving Florida businesses and consumers, about half of which enter the nation through seaports in other states today;
- Expand export markets for Florida businesses by filling these import containers with Florida goods and using more efficient logistics patterns to attract advanced manufacturing and other export related industries to Florida; and
- Emerge as a global hub for trade and investment, leveraging its location on north-south and east-west trade lanes to become a critical point for processing, assembly, and shipping of goods to markets throughout the eastern United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
If pursued together, these opportunities could support over 32,000 jobs annually in the trade and logistics sector and generate $3.3 billion in business sales, $2.1 billion in personal income, and $193 million in state and local tax revenues. If supporting economic development impacts are realized, these opportunities could create up to an additional 111,000 jobs in export oriented industries including advanced manufacturing and supply chain management, and generate an additional $18.2 billion in business sales, $5.8 billion in personal income, and $530 million in tax revenues. These opportunities would transform Florida’s economy, adding world class strengths in trade, logistics, and advanced manufacturing to the state’s traditional strengths in agriculture, tourism, and construction.