Make Florida’s Workforce Globally Competitive
By: Doug Davidson, Market Executive for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation
Published in the Tampa Bay Times
If you aren’t amazed by the speed at which technology is changing our world, just think back 20 years. Would you have imagined cellphones with the capabilities of a laptop computer or the possibility of driverless vehicles roaming the streets of Tampa? Today’s world is dominated by innovation, guiding the creation of entirely new jobs and changing the way industries operate.
To compete in today’s global markets and build on our recent successes, Florida will need to think strategically about how to build success for 2030 and beyond. Florida’s workforce must be prepared for jobs that may not exist today and may require new skills and an entirely new way of thinking.
The Florida Chamber Foundation traveled to all 67 counties and heard from more than 10,000 Floridians as part of Florida 2030, a three-year, once-a-decade, blueprint for Florida’s future. Its findings echo the No. 1 concern of businesses — that in order to succeed, Florida must develop, attract and retain a globally oriented workforce.
The recommendations released at the foundation’s annual Learners to Earners Workforce Summit show that talent is the key currency of the future. Will Florida take advantage of the opportunities in the disruptions just around the corner or will we lag behind? The future depends on us making the right choice by investing in the young men and women who will lead us in the years ahead.
Visit www.Florida2030.org to download the Drivers for Florida’s Future report, which covers all Six Pillars of Florida’s growth, and learn how you can get involved.
Rail Lines Keep Economy Rolling
Infrastructure is my business at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. It is one of the Florida Chamber’s six pillars for the state’s economic future, and I see each day how a robust transportation system can attract businesses, advance growth and create jobs.
Among this important network of trucks, barges, trains and planes, Florida’s freight railroads distinguish themselves on infrastructure because they’re paying to maintain and enhance their lines with little help from taxpayers. Freight rail is injecting billions of private dollars — $25 billion annually for the past several years — into the nationwide network that hauls finished products to our ports, raw materials to our manufacturers and goods to our customers.
A new report from Towson University in Maryland quantified the impact from freight rail investments, finding that spending by the largest U.S. railroads created $274 billion in economic activity and generated nearly $33 billion in total tax revenues in 2014.
The cascading effect of these investments is hard to overstate. Enhanced rail operations in Florida, not to mention the rest of the country, mean that our ports can move more imports and exports and meet the increased demand of an expanded Panama Canal. Port Tampa Bay, for example, is continuing to invest in rail connectivity as part of a long-range development plan that aims to bulk up its presence in the container market.
Smart policies have allowed companies to make significant private investments in our state’s all-important transportation network. Florida needs to keep these good policies, and others like them, rolling.
Christopher Emmanuel, Tallahassee
The writer is director of infrastructure and governance policy with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Published in the Tampa Bay Times, July 12, 2016