Photo: Lakeland Regional Health
Elaine Thompson is the President and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health System. "We won't be where we were last year," Thompson said.
Industry Outlook 2016
What is the outlook for industries in Florida during 2016?
President, CEO / Lakeland Regional Health System, Lakeland
"As a not-for-profit health system in Florida, there's always a little bit of volatility - 76% of our payers are government-related payers; the state has a lot of influence. The Low Income Pool (for Medicaid and the uninsured and underinsured), which is a partnership between the federal government and the state government, is not going to be funded this year as it was in previous years.
We are seeing a lot of payer cuts. We think, even working very hard, we won't be where we were last year. We finished the year with a 4.4% operating margin. We are forecasting, with a lot of hard work, 4.3%. We are doing everything we can to not lose ground.
No. 1 is how to raise quality and safety going forward. The second aspect we're concerned about is the ability to handle the tremendous volume and have the access patients and families need. The more we can lower our cost, the more we will provide greater access to the communities we serve.
We are the largest safety net provider, not-for-profit health care system in Polk County. We are the fifth-largest hospital in the state. We have the single largest one-site emergency department in the state. We had over 210,000 emergency department visits in our last fiscal year."
Chairman, Co-founder / Cassel Salpeter & Co., Miami
The guys who have good track records don't seem to have much trouble raising funds. There's a lot of money out there still with the funds. On the banking side, they all want to put money out. It's a frothy market. The real quality deals are easier to get done today. The middle ones are more troubling.
I think 2016 is going to be an OK year, and I would even go and say a good year, but I wouldn't predict a great year in terms of number of deals. If a Republican president wins and a Republican Congress, people might want to hold off selling and postpone it into next year on the belief taxes might go down.
In south Florida, the travel airline industry is doing very well. You look at aviation around south Florida, from little shops to bigger companies, they seem to be pretty active right now. You talk to the auto dealers, and they're all doing well. Real estate seems to be doing OK. I don't think anybody says things are fabulous. A lot of real estate developers whose major clientele is out of the country, they're nervous but still selling. We have pretty strong employment now in south Florida and the state; we're not at full employment but we're at fuller employment. I hear of people running into problems trying to hire."
REAL ESTATE (Home Building)
Vice President, Co-owner / Cantin Homes, Port Charlotte
"I think it's going to be a repeat of '15 and better.
We build eight to a dozen homes a year. Our forecast looks at least as good as last year if not a little bit busier.
In the last two years, we've seen business increase 50%. People are choosing more upgrades on the home and spending more money, and bank loans are easier. We are just now looking at getting into land development. I have a special project I'm looking at with a mentor of mine, which would be a small development.
At the same time, we do own a few lots in our neck of the woods. We're looking at building spec homes. We haven't sold a spec home since 2000. We were too busy on orders from other people.
We are in Sarasota and Charlotte counties. We build custom homes usually in the $300,000s and up."
President / The Breakers Palm Beach
"2016 is looking like it's going to be a very strong year for us. It's growth on top of a record year we had in 2015. I'll give some credit where it's deserved - to the overall Florida market. We're doing a better job promoting Florida. For The Breakers, in particular, I think the story is even better - not to sound too self serving. We have such a unique product. While the overall supply of hotel rooms continues to grow in Florida, they aren't building many Breakers properties in Palm Beach. We've trained our customers to expect every year that something pretty dramatic is going to happen with the property. It's fresh new product for this season - the Flagler Club (a boutique hotel experience within the resort), the spa renovation and an exact replica of the historic fountain in the main driveway.
We think our group business will be up 5%. We expect leisure business to be up 2%. I'm referring to occupancy. With respect to pricing and rates, we project an overall increase of about 5%.
In each of the last two years, we've spent about $35 million in improving the property. We spend a minimum of $25 million yearly. In 2016, we'll do a major renovation of the Seafood Bar and south tower guest rooms."
Retired President, CEO / Florida Retail Federation Tallahassee
"I think 2016 is going to be a good year in retail. Our economy is strengthening nicely. Consumer confidence has been up and up and up ever since the recession. In our business, consumer confidence equals consumer spending. Most of our folks are having good times right now. The times are not the greatest, but they're solid and they're growing. Certainly the unemployment rate is good. The best blessing Florida has is 100 million visitors a year. You overlay 100 million people a year coming here and leaving a lot of money here, it just makes all the difference in the world. A lot of it is foreign tourism. It's fascinating to me to watch the different areas of the world that find Miami and bring their money. Certainly the home furnishings business, which suffered the most in the recession - we lost a lot of furniture dealers nationwide and the same is true in Florida - they're really enjoying the turnaround of housing."
On his proudest moments heading the retail federation: "You always have mixed emotions about retiring. You know you're going to miss the people, the activity and the brain stimulation.
I've got a huge, long list. From legislative victories that we've had - the workers' comp reform that cut premiums by 60%, or the tort reform battles where we got rid of joint and several liability; the way we have helped Florida consumers through tax relief, the sales tax holidays.
We've acquired other associations, the Georgia Retail Association, the Georgia Home Furnishings Association, the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. All have made our federation a richer environment.
We've also done great things for services for our members, a 401(k) program. We have close to $100 million in assets. We have a bank card for our members, and are saving every one of those folks money. We recently helped our members with health care through a private exchange.
If someone pushed me into a corner and said, 'What are you most proud of?' It would be the staff. We have a staff that's second to none."