by David Denor
As publisher of Florida Trend, I travel the state from its most northern regions to its southern tip and all the places in between. As many Floridians know, many of the state’s most precious treasures can be found in the lands tucked between the coasts.
From the picturesque beauty of inland lakes, trails and nature preserves to the abundance of agriculture to the rich history that abounds in these regions, Florida’s rural communities are being recognized as true areas of economic opportunity.
Today, companies and individuals alike are looking for new options in setting down their roots. Employers look to provide employees with more work-life balance options and Florida’s rural communities are eager to share all they have to offer to prospective suiters. In a business environment where technology provides new flexibility for remote work, rural Florida continues to attract attention for the quality of life it offers.
Florida’s Rural Communities – a special feature starting on page 80 – shines the spotlight on rural Florida and many of the unique features these communities offer to prospective businesses, entrepreneurs and residents. The feature identifies Florida’s rural areas of opportunity and provides an insightful look at the distinctive characteristics that make up the state’s rural communities.
As the business environment continues to evolve with in-office, hybrid and fully remote employees, so changes workspace needs. In this month’s Economic Backbone section, beginning on page 12, developers and brokers share their perspectives on Florida’s commercial real estate market as it strives to meet future demand.
Florida’s public universities are important drivers of the economy. Our team explores unique angles on this vast system. Starting on page 38, South Florida Editor Mike Vogel reports on the emerging market of student athlete endorsements and the young entrepreneurs who recently gained the ability to profit from their names, images and likenesses. For all the promise of potential riches, the reality is vastly different than expected. Their stories are accompanied by one of a state leader who has walked in their shoes: Florida Board of Governors Chairman Brian Lamb. A onetime college basketball star whose dreams of an NBA career were derailed by an injury, he now plays an even bigger role for Florida than he might have ever imagined. Associate Editor Amy Keller profiles this fast-rising leader starting on page 58.
We then turn our focus to the changing of the guard at more than half of our state universities in recent years, where the roles presidents are expected to play have grown more demanding and the public scrutiny more intense. Are shorter tenures a new reality or just a sign of the current times? Turn to page 64 for Amy’s report on the changing tides and what it means for these important institutions.
I would be remiss if I did not mention this is the first issue of Florida Trend under the new editorial leadership of Executive Editor Vickie Chachere. I could not be prouder to have Vickie leading the editorial department. Her knowledge of the state, its economy and business community, and her enthusiasm for telling the Florida story makes me excited for issues of our magazine to come. Please take time and read Vickie’s introductory column on page 156. I know you too will be impressed and looking forward to her upcoming insights and perspective on Florida’s future.
— David Denor, Publisher