June 20, 2019

Up Front - The Publisher's Column

Clear choices in governor's race

Andrew P. Corty | 9/27/2018

We now have a clear choice. Two long shots emerged in the primaries to compete for governor. Voters rejected Gwen Graham, the daughter of a former governor and U.S. senator, and Adam Putnam, long considered the front-runner, who has held elective office since age 22.

We couldn’t have selected two more divergent voices to run for the highest office in Florida. U.S. Congressman Ron DeSantis from Jacksonville is Ivy League-educated and very conservative. He has President Trump’s endorsement. On the Democratic side is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, son of a school bus driver and construction worker, first in his family to graduate high school or college and very liberal.

Gillum is for “Medicare for all,” favors gun control and wants to legalize marijuana. DeSantis is against all of that.

In the race for one of Florida’s two U.S. Senate seats, our choices are Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Bill Nelson in a match-up that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

As for the U.S. House, there are several important races here in Florida that will help determine if that chamber stays Republican-controlled or is taken over by Democrats.

Florida Trend reporter Jason Garcia points out what to watch for next month. See his analysis.

Florida continues its growth spurt. We will pass 21 million residents next year, 21.5 million in 2020 — and more than 24 million by 2030. Currently, we have more births in Florida than deaths, but that will turn around in less than two decades. And in that same time frame, our white, non-Hispanic population will slip below 50%.

This leads to a discussion of immigration, which has been a volatile topic of late among our national leaders. Foreign-born workers are the backbone of industries vitally important to Florida. In construction, for instance, there simply aren’t enough U.S.-born workers to fill the available jobs. In agriculture, seasonal jobs attract very few domestic workers and thus rely on a foreign-born workforce, especially true when unemployment is low. And within our hospitality industry, the hotel/restaurant/attraction business is so important to Florida (with more than 100 million visitors each year), yet there simply aren’t enough workers to fill all the positions.

Read about the role immigrants play in Florida and efforts to tighten control via E-Verify, which for some works “too well,” in a package of articles by Mike Vogel.

Community banks are going, going, going. Florida still counts 125 community banks based here, but that’s down from more than 300 a dozen years ago. Mergers, acquisitions and failures all account for the decline. Bigger banks, some regional, have been gobbling up local banks. Smaller banks, particularly those with less than $1 billion in assets, are finding it harder to navigate these days.

See our list of Florida's biggest bank holding companies in the Economic Backbone section on finance.

Greater Fort Lauderdale is hopping. At lunch downtown a couple years ago, construction magnate Bob Moss said from this location he could walk to $1.0 billion worth of his own projects. He wasn’t kidding — and the growth has continued. Today, developers are building 6,500 hotel rooms, apartments and condominium units in Broward County.

Bob Swindell, head of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, says companies are attracted to the area’s quality of life and strong educational system, from K-12 through college. See our sponsored report on Greater Fort Lauderdale.

— Andy Corty, Publisher


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