Up Front - The Publisher's Column
Economics 101: Creating the right business climate in Florida
Florida needs an environment where new business can blossom.
The Legislature kicks off its two-month session on March 3, and in the March 2015 edition of Florida Trend, we preview the key issues that will be discussed in Tallahassee.
With Rick Scott re-elected as governor and solid Republican control of the House and Senate, you might expect smooth sailing. But instead there will be fierce debates on key topics such as health care, gambling, water, education and the environment. All of these topics are detailed in our report starting on page 80 of the magazine, or you can access it here.
I am personally interested in what lawmakers will do to further the state’s economic development efforts. Enterprise Florida, the state’s sales and marketing organization, just lost its energetic leader, Gray Swoope. He has joined the private sector after four years at the helm of this state agency that draws too much criticism from legislative leaders. Swoope put Florida back on the map, traveling to every corner of the world touting the benefits of locating in the Sunshine State. Why don’t we embrace Enterprise Florida and put a little wind at the organization’s back?
Perhaps that will occur under Swoope’s successor, Bill Johnson, a veteran of Miami-Dade County, who is best known for excellent work at PortMiami, one of the nation’s busiest container and cruise ports. Not only did Johnson expand the port’s capacity and improve its financial position, but he also helped shepherd completion of the huge port tunnel project that will ease the flow of traffic around the port. I’m delighted that Miami-centric and marketing-centric Johnson will lead Enterprise Florida.
In addition to Enterprise Florida’s marketing muscle, Florida continues to improve the regulatory climate. Companies looking to relocate here already know Florida doesn’t have a personal income tax. They will be delighted to know that Gov. Scott wants to make further cuts to the corporate income tax.
I recently spoke with state Sen. Jeremy Ring, who was one of the early members of the Yahoo family and knows a good deal about business opportunity. He points out that pro-business tax/regulatory policies are just one of the three elements to create a thriving business sector. The second revolves around Enterprise Florida, with its sales and marketing message. In both cases, Florida now is showing signs of success.
But he worries that the third rail still lags -- creating an environment for new business to blossom. “Why are we pulling in an Amazon distribution center rather than allowing the next Amazon company to sprout here?” he asks. Who are the leaders that will spend the big dollars to create the next Research Triangle, the next IT sector or the next biotech enclave? “These endeavors create whole economies, not just jobs,” Ring says.
Young MBA graduates might be part of the solution. Not only does Florida need academic research in fields like computer science, bio-engineering and marine biology, we also need the business minds to manage growing companies.
We now have 50 MBA programs in Florida, ranging from traditional and executive to weekend and online. Many MBA programs now concentrate on specific fields such as sports management, entrepreneurship or consumer marketing. Please see the overview article here (on page 48 of the magazine).
If waterfront living is more your style than economics, the Legislature and business schools, then you’ll love our article about floating homes (in the magazine, it's on page 100).
Fitness update: I’m embarrassed to say it was a month of sloth and inactivity. No report.
— Andy Corty
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