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In a recent blog post submitted to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center, the Florida Chamber Foundation discusses why businesses have the unique ability to help create economic prosperity.
The Florida Chamber Foundation’s mission is a simple, yet significant one – to secure Florida’s future. Through our efforts to develop foundational research, inform and educate businesses, and convene business leaders and stakeholders in in-depth discussions, we work to identify the challenges and opportunities that Florida has not just today, but 20 or more years from now. In fact, this mission is the basis of our Florida 2030 research, which over the course of two years has taken us to all 67 counties in our state, where we heard from more than 10,000 Floridians on the issues that matter to them.
One of those issues? Economic prosperity.
Consider the following:
- There are 28 counties in Florida with a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher.
- 44 percent of Florida’s 7.5 million households cannot afford the basic needs.
- More than 3 million Floridians live in poverty. Of those, more than 944,000 are kids under age 18.
- If we don’t do something today, 133,329 additional children in Florida will live in poverty by 2030.
So, how do we go about securing our state’s future if nearly 1 in 6 Floridians live in poverty?
Believe it or not, even after years of leading this discussion, we are still asked why the state chamber is driving these conversations. And when businesses ask us if the challenge of creating opportunities for economic prosperity for all Floridians is one of economic or moral significance, our answer is “yes” to both.
We believe all leaders in our state should be working together to ensure every Floridian – regardless of their circumstances – has the opportunity to lead successful and meaningful lives. And while there will always be situational poverty – the kind stemming from temporary setbacks – business leaders can play a strong and crucial role in helping break the cycle of generational poverty.
At the Florida Chamber Foundation, we took on the challenge of trying to identify what economic prosperity means for Florida and to educate businesses on how complex the issue of poverty is. Our Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity Report culminates years of research and analyzes poverty rates in all of Florida’s counties, and identifies the challenges that keep people from rising out of generational poverty. This report also identifies a few key opportunities to prepare our state’s workforce and create economic opportunity, which include employing two-generational strategies which recognize that focusing on interventions for children living in poverty without addressing the needs of the parents of those children leads to sub-optimal results, focusing on early learning initiatives so that students have a chance to succeed from a young age, creating workplace based solutions, and ensuring that low-income families have access to the services they need.
We are taking our research and our words and turning them into action. We are traveling the state to talk about economic prosperity, and bringing together businesses, non-profit organizations, community leaders, elected officials and more to discuss best practices and steps toward action at our annual Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity Summit.
Florida has led the way in economic growth and opportunity. We can and must do more to break the cycle of generational poverty by focusing on creating opportunities for all Floridians, especially those born into poverty. And with the business community leading the way, we can be successful.