April 4, 2020

2020 Economic Outlook

Southeast Florida - Workforce, environment, infrastructure

Mike Vogel | 12/26/2019

Forecast: TOURISM

Oneil Khosa, CEO
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, Deerfield Beach

“We’re the only cruise line operating out of Palm Beach. We have a niche doing short cruises to the Bahamas. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line did get impacted by Hurricane Dorian, probably more than any other cruise line. We are recovering from that.

It’s the north and east part of Grand Bahama that were decimated. A lot of people don’t realize the southern part that has the beaches and the main attractions, the hotels, the swimming with the dolphins, has remained intact. Tourists are coming over as the time passes. We are seeing an uptick.

We added a destination in Nassau as a result of the hurricane hitting Grand Bahama, which is turning out to be a great opportunity for us.”

Forecast: FINANCE

Kelley Brown-Murro, Market Executive
Regions, Fort Lauderdale / West Palm Beach

“Our customers are generally very optimistic about their businesses. I’m not seeing a slowdown.

People are being very mindful in making well-thought-out and strategic decisions. A lot of businesses in the area have been through the downturn before. People are very prepared. I think they’re being very smart and very wise and very efficient. How can we invest inside our business to increase our margins; how can we prepare for the volatility ahead? They’re really thinking ahead and giving it a lot of thought. How are they going to weather that storm wisely if it were to occur?

We continue to make strategic investments whether it be in headcount or branch expansion. Much like our customers — very strategic in doing it.”

Forecast: RETAIL

Sarah Kudisch, General Manager
Palm Beach Outlets, West Palm Beach

“2020 will have a similar look as 2019, where retailers are seeking slightly smaller footprints, looking to cut overhead and operating more efficiently. Overall, we don’t anticipate much change in measured growth.

We are projecting that in 2020 we will be at near or full occupancy as we were in 2019. Since late 2018, we have welcomed key fashion brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman and True Religion. We plan to continue bringing these sought-after retailers to the project.”

Southeast / Broward, Palm Beach, Indian River, Okeechobee, Martin, St. Lucie Counties

Issues ...

  • Workforce: Employers struggle to find workers. Workers struggle to find well-paying jobs. In the movie The Graduate, recent college grad Benjamin Braddock gets career advice in one word: Plastics. For the industry of the future in Southeast Florida — as for the state overall — it’s four words: Ambulatory health care services. With the flood of aging Boomers, the industry, which covers outpatient centers, doctor and dentist offices and home health care, will lead Florida in adding jobs through 2026, the state says. That’s true in all of Southeast Florida, except Broward, where ambulatory health care services ranks second. Of the five occupations projected to add the most jobs through 2026 in Southeast Florida, only registered nursing requires a college degree and pays more than $15 an hour. Other occupations adding the most jobs include landscapers, fast food and food prep, retail sales and waiters.
  • Infrastructure: In July, an FPL contractor broke a crucial Fort Lauderdale main that carries water from the wellfields to the city water plant, knocking out water service to 222,000 residents of the city and other cities it services. It shut down hotels, malls and restaurants and government offices. “I cannot believe how antiquated our systems are. We really need to engage our infrastructure program into fast forward,” Mayor Dean Trantalis texted during the crisis. Then, in October, a half-century-old water main on the bottom of the New River broke, forcing a boil-water order.
  • Regional Cooperation: The new, regionally focused South Florida Business Council, comprising representatives of the three major chambers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, says its chief issues are education, water management, affordable housing, mobility and tourism. The council hopes South Florida will enjoy the success other regions of Florida have had in wooing legislative funding by speaking with a single voice.
  • Environment: The Treasure Coast’s treasured waters have been fouled in recent years by algal blooms fed by excess nitrogen and phosphorous. The city of Port St. Lucie has gotten some funding from the Legislature and local water district for a $12.6-million water restoration and storage project at the city’s McCarty Ranch Preserve. It would convert 1,900 acres of fallow citrus grove and a 730-acre water impoundment into a water storage area to divert nearly 9 billion gallons of water a year from flowing into the St. Lucie River. Keeping the water and the phosphorous and nitrogen it carries out of the river will improve the water quality in the river. Long term, the city plans to build a treatment plant at the site to turn the canal water into drinking water. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year wants to study the effects of Lake Okeechobee blue-green algal blooms on biologists, fishing guides and airboat operators who are frequently on the lake.

    Tags: Southeast, Economic Outlook, Feature

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