September 22, 2014

FLORIDA Perception vs. Reality

Sounding Board: What does Florida mean to you?

Site selectors, economic recruiters, competitors, new business arrivals and those who chose to move elsewhere offer insights on the state.

ACADEMICS

Gary Mormino

"I think we're so large, we're so fragmented, we mean just about anything America wants it to mean. To Midwesterners, it's still a great vacationland — places they've been coming for 75 years. Miami seems tarnished these days compared to what it was. To others, I think Florida is an environmental wonderland. To others, it's the epitome of an unregulated dysfunctional state. To seniors, Florida still represents a second chance, a Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth opportunity, or at least a better February. To many, I think it's a state of experimentation. I mean you look at some of these experiments in urban living in the Panhandle with St. Joe Co. and places like Celebration. It's astonishing really, how daring some of these experiments are."

Gary Mormino, Frank E. Duckwall professor of history and co-director of the Florida Studies Program at USF St. Petersburg

Lance deHaven-Smith

"Florida is sort of like a Rubik's Cube or a kaleidoscope ... an event can happen and that kaleidoscope twists and suddenly Florida, which was a beauty queen state and Disney World and a place for recreation, then suddenly it's a bunch of bozos that can't run an election. We're sort of at the mercy of events. That's what you don't want to be. You want to be in command of your own fate, and to do that you have to have enough solid things tied to a plan and a vision that small events, regional events, can't knock you off course. And, unfortunately, Florida has never had that."

Lance deHaven-Smith, professor in the Reubin O'D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University

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