As state legislators spend the next week working on a budget plan that will set the course of the state in the coming years, another group of state leaders is plotting a course specifically relating to Florida’s economic growth.
The Florida Council of 100, a nonpartisan group of business leaders that employ over a half-million workers, has spent the past 18 months putting together the state’s Project Sunrise report, which is intended to serve as an economic road map to guide the state into the coming years.
The council’s chair, Chris Corr, says the report is intended to provide a policy framework that’s geared toward optimizing the state’s economy.
“Given Florida’s maturity as a worldwide economic powerhouse in recent years, we have a unique opportunity to lead and chart a path to help Florida become that ‘It’ State – the place where dynamic and exciting innovations lead the way,” said Corr. “With this framework, Florida can apply the proper mix of talents, efforts, and resources to drive the state’s economy to thrive, en route to an improved quality of life for our citizens.”
But, Corr says developing the state into the economic powerhouse that the FC 100 envisions for Florida is going to take a comprehensive and integrated approach.
Even as Florida continues to show signs of recovering from the Great Recession, the report says the state needs to continue working to improve what are known as “tradeable sectors” – those areas that sell goods or services that can be easily exported.
To do that the report has identified six strategic goals: human capital, strategic repositioning, state and local economic development organizations, public investment, research and development (R&D) and innovation, and health.
“Simply put, the policy ways of the past are not necessarily adequate for present-day Florida,” said Corr. “Project Sunrise is intended to provoke this point to create a better path forward.”
“Countless bookcases are filled with reports that provide a snapshot of a moment in time and then sit around gathering dust – but Project Sunrise is not one of them,” said Syd Kitson, Vice Chair of FC100. “This tells us where we are, but it also provides specific strategies to guide and boost us to where we need to be. Project Sunrise shows the path to sustained economic prosperity for Florida and its growing population.”
The report shows the state has built a good economic foundation from which to grow. Florida is one of the most economically competitive states and a global powerhouse. The state has the fastest projected GDP and population growth in the nation. It also has low unemployment and positive job growth. Factor in the state’s low tax rate and strong business climate and you have the potential for success.
“Florida has so much going for it, blessed both by nature and the exceptional people who call this state home. But we cannot sit back and assume things will always be good,” said Will Weatherford, an FC100 board member and a leader in the report’s development. “Project Sunrise will show us the way to develop an economic base that will sustain us for years to come.”
But, to do that, the report says Florida needs to adopt strategies to diversify its economy, develop high-wage jobs, use developing technologies and develop a talent pipeline to meet the needs of its workforce.