Strategies for Rural Economic Development

By: Florida Chamber Foundation

Florida’s economy has seen a significant reshaping over the past 20 years. By 2030, rapid advancements in technology and automation will replace nearly half of all jobs that currently exist. While many urban areas of Florida have already begun preparing for this change, a large number of our rural areas are still reeling from the economic realities of the changes in agriculture and the devastation of Hurricane Michael.

At the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum, Todd Powell, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees led a panel addressing the challenges to rural economic development and pathways to achieve the Blueprint 2030 goal of doubling the rural county share of Florida’s gross domestic product. The panel was made up of Michelle Dennard, President and CEO of CareerSource Florida, Jeff Hendry, Executive Director of the North Florida Economic Development Partnership, and Gray Swoope, President and CEO of VisionFirst Advisors.


A focus on rural and inland Florida economic development include:

• Supporting development of manufacturing and logistics operations along existing corridors such as I-10 and U.S. 27.
• Strengthening the effectiveness of Florida’s Rural Areas of Opportunity and other targeted rural development programs.
• Increase broadband access to Florida’s rural and inland counties.
• Provide higher levels of connectivity options between Florida’s urban and rural communities.

“In addition to the Florida Scorecard, the Florida Chamber has created regional scorecards for our three rural regions so we can track our metrics,” said Jeff Hendry. “The first one available is Opportunity Florida, covering the panhandle.”

“Please don’t forget about the people in Northwest Florida,” Hendry continued. “You can’t appreciate the devastation that Hurricane Michael caused if you haven’t been there. Speak with your legislators about doing what’s right to make these communities whole. It won’t happen overnight but we have to start somewhere, and we have to start now.”

Get Involved Today

Learn more about the Florida Chamber’s Blueprint 2030 Targets and Strategies.