Report says Florida economy in transition
Florida's economy is undergoing a period of transition and while the overall economic outlook is good both the private sector and key state institutions will need to adapt to assure success in the years ahead.
That is the message of a report from the Florida Chamber Foundation, a research organization affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
While there have been suggestions that Florida's long-running economic boom may be coming to a close, the foundation's report said the reality is that the economy is in a transition.
Florida remains a hemispheric hub for international trade and investment, which will help its economic growth in the future, the report noted. Florida is also a hotbed for high technology industries, from aeronautics to biosciences.
But Florida's past success will likely eliminate some of its traditional advantage, such as its lower costs of living and business operations in comparison to other parts of the country. Cost of living in Florida has increased at a rate faster than the growth in incomes. These changes will present a special challenge for attracting talented and well-trained young employees needed to grow a more diverse and sophisticated economy.
The traditional drivers of agriculture, construction, and tourism will not be able to carry the economy of the future to the degree that they have in the past, making the growing trade and technology sectors increasingly important to the overall economic climate.
The state continues to gain population, with new residents coming from the Northeast and Midwest. But Florida has lost some residents to Texas and the Carolinas, migration patterns indicate.
Florida will have to make local and state economic and planning decisions based on the state's location in relation to Latin America and the Caribbean and promote itself as a hub for trade and investment for the entire geographic region.
The study said that in the changing economy education will play a critical role. To support the increasing technological industries, Florida needs to strengthen its educational system to meet demands of the new workforce requirements.
Florida currently has a high school graduation rate of 71 percent, ranking 46th among the 50 states. The flip side of the graduation issue is that the graduation rate has improved from 62 percent in 2000. Yet improvements must continue, the report stressed.
The university system will also have to keep pace with the changing economy to keep the Florida economy competitive.
'The basic message from this study is that Florida has tremendous potential for success in the 21st Century, but to achieve that potential we need to step into gear. Florida will need to prepare better and smarter for the next 10 million people than we did for the last 10 million people,' said Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation.