Bruce Faulmann, Publisher
It’s hard to believe that 2009 is nearly at a close, with the holidays just around the corner and one of America’s greatest traditions, Thanksgiving, a few short weeks away. In spite of the Great Recession and Florida facing unprecedented challenges, I believe there’s much to be thankful for in our great state.
» First and foremost, we enjoy a world-renowned quality of life. In Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project, three Florida cities ranked among America’s most desirable places to live: Orlando, No. 4, Tampa, No. 5, and Miami, No. 12. Many of Florida’s cities routinely earn top spots on lists of best places to live.
» Our state’s business-friendly environment is another valuable asset. According to Florida TaxWatch, 10 separate economic competitive rankings placed Florida placed in the top 10 in five of the indexes measured. The Small Business Survival Index ranks Florida as one of the nation’s friendliest states for entrepreneurs, and CEO Magazine ranked Florida No. 3 in the overall best places for jobs and business growth.
» Our K-12 school system has improved dramatically, moving from 31st in the U.S. to 10th over the past three years, according to a recent Education Week ranking, and this year U.S. News & World Report named eight Florida colleges and universities in its list of “America’s Best Colleges.”
» Momentum is building as we establish a knowledge-based economy and add more diversity and stability to the state’s current economic strengths. The efforts are supported by more than $1.5 billion in R&D expenditures at Florida’s academic institutions, the 10th-highest amount among all U.S. states. Additionally, private research institutes like Scripps, Burnham, Torrey Pines, SRI and Max Planck are giving rise to growing clusters of like-minded innovators and entrepreneurs while attracting international attention. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News identified Florida as home to one of the world’s most promising emerging biotech clusters.
» We have a thriving talent base (fourth-largest in the U.S.) that is culturally diverse and well-educated. Florida ranks 11th among all states for workers with advanced degrees, and our base of talented retirees is the envy of other states.
» Florida’s location on the globe positions us perfectly for international trade. Last year, Florida recorded the highest trade surplus among the U.S. states, and international business — trade in goods and services plus foreign direct investment — accounted for about one-sixth of the state’s economy. With expansion of the Panama Canal, our ports are poised to take advantage of the increase in business that will result.
» Florida is becoming a national leader in the growing alternative energy industry, ranking No. 2 for the number of new branches, third in employment and fifth for number of new startups. In two green-job categories (water/wastewater and green building), we’re growing faster than the national average.
As Floridians, we should be thankful for all of these strengths. They’re the advantages we report on in the pages of Business Florida 2010, our annual business opportunity guide, which is read by thousands of business leaders and key executives throughout the country. Read more at BusinessFlorida.com.
In closing, and with apologies to all you non-Gator fans, we have Tim Tebow, perhaps the greatest college football player in the history of the game, right here in Florida — one of the country’s greatest football states.
— Bruce Faulmann