Florida freshens its economic roadmap to 2015 but can it walk the walk to make it happen?
Wake up and good morning. Enterprise Florida, the public-private agency in charge of driving Florida's economic development strategy, just issued a freshened report -- 2010-2015 Roadmap to Florida's Future -- focusing on where and how Florida should be heading over the next five years. The graphic above from the report, for example, calls for:
1. "Talent" by upgrading our public education quality.
2. "Innovation" by expanding research and development in the state.
3. "Growth leadership/Infrastructure" with more mass transit and balanced land use.
4. A "Business Climate" that is designed for the 21st century and lets businesses here be competitive.
5. Becoming a "Global Hub" by pursuing more international trade.
6. And "Quality of Life" by supporting arts and culture to attract a "creative class" of workers.
It is a daunting task set out by the state agency.
Not only is Florida flattened, more so than most states, by the recession. But the state economic leaders aspire to making Florida a leader among the nation's 50 states in economic innovation. I'm delighted by Florida's willingness to shoot high -- on paper -- but jaundiced by Florida's perennial habit of talking the talk but failing to walk the walk. A few highlights from the Enterprise Florida report:
* Since peaking in 2007, Florida's non-farm employment has decreased by 700,000 jobs, an astonishing decline in a short period of time.
* The old drivers of Florida's economy, one marked by boom and bust cycles and focused heavily on real estate and construction, must no longer be the bedrock for the state going forward. The report says Florida must diversify and build clusters of a new economy based on clean energy, healthcare and biotech, international commerce, advanced manufacturing among other industries.
* You can't have "innovation" without strong research and development skills. Florida, the fourth largest state by population, ranks 16th in R&D spending and 42nd in "R&D intensity." Those rankings are mostly unchanged since 2000, a reminder that Florida does not operate in a vacuum. Other states are scrambling to do exactly what this state is trying -- and often doing it better.
* In venture capital, Florida's story is pathetic. Between 2000 and 2009, Florida's share of total U.S. venture capital investment fell 65 percent -- from an already low 2.5 percent to just 0.9 percent. That not only strangles innovative entrepreneurs in the state but, worse, sends a message to entrepreneurs in Florida and elsewhere that this state is a bad place to be when it comes to competing for start-up investment funds.
I could go on but this is a big report deserving of more study and comment. Let's leave it here for now. Here's the Enterprise Florida report that you can look at for yourself. We'll revisit this in the coming days.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist