Make us your home page
Instagram

As the North is blanketed with snow, it's sunny in Florida — but is that enough?

Chicago could see its worst snowstorm ever. Oklahoma City told residents to stay inside. And Dallas, hosting the Super Bowl this weekend, closed the airport.

The forecast for Tampa: highs in the 70s.

As Florida works to redefine itself as an emerging hotbed of research and technology industries, a horrendous snowstorm blanketing much of the country reminds us of the one asset that has always given us an economic edge.

Weather.

Is that enough? Many experts don't think so.

"The bottom line is the Florida of yesterday is not the Florida of today, and it won't be the Florida of the future," said Edie Ousley, a spokeswoman for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Postcards of palm trees, flamingoes and girls in bikinis won't suffice, some say. To compete with the rest of the country, state officials have identified six "industry clusters" — life sciences, information technology, homeland security, aviation and aerospace, financial and professional services and clean tech — that will import brains, wealth and jobs.

These industries are more likely to lure back the stream of home buyers and families who once made up Florida's phenomenal growth. They also are the kind of industries that will attract other business and academics.

The thing is, every state wants those industries. They all need positive economic development, and they all want to attract bright, innovative people.

"It's not unique to Florida," said Stuart Doyle, a spokesman for Enterprise Florida, the state's business development arm. "Really, these are industries that will do well nationally."

Which brings us back to the weather. Wouldn't all those scientists and engineers and financial officers rather move to a sunny locale than the dark and frozen Midwest cities we're seeing on the news right now?

And while we're at it, shouldn't we keep sending out postcards of beaches and flamingos?

"Hey, there's not a single person in the tourism industry that doesn't agree that we need to diversify the economy," said Chris Thompson, chief executive of Visit Florida, the state tourism agency. "But it's because of the weather and the natural resources here that tourism has been, and always will be, one of our most productive assets."

Even in 2009, one of the state's toughest years financially, Florida still had 80 million visitors contributing $61 billion to the state economy. About 22 percent of all sales tax collection was paid by people who came here for the sunshine.

"So let's celebrate it," he said.

The new state administration apparently agrees.

During a recent Fox News interview on the state budget, Gov. Rick Scott was introduced by an anchorwoman in Washington, D.C., who quipped, "It's much chillier here than it is in Florida."

Scott jumped on the opportunity.

"Everybody needs to move to Florida," Scott said. "We have the best state to live in, great weather, great beaches."

No mention of life sciences.

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

As the North is blanketed with snow, it's sunny in Florida — but is that enough? 02/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    But it's replacement — Tampa Bay Next — will likely include many of the same projects, including express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]
  3. Leaders of Tampa Bay's top workplaces share insights, suggestions

    Business

    TAMPA — Nearly 300 people gathered at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday morning to hear tips and insights from leaders of the highest-ranked workplaces in Tampa Bay.

    Bays Florida associates (From left) Robert Patterson, Amanda Boser, and Kellly Banchak talk during the reception before the start of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces Live! program at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Study: Florida most friendly state for retired veterans

    Working Life

    Florida is the nation's best state for military retirees looking for somewhere to settle. That's according to a study released Monday by WalletHub which rated Florida the most friendly when it comes to economic factors, quality of life and health care.

    Veterans watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp in 2016. Florida is the most friendly state for retired veterans according to a new WalletHub study. | LOREN ELLIOTT, Times
  5. Department store chain from Puerto Rico coming to University Mall

    Retail

    TAMPA — Grand's, a department store chain from Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in September.

    Grand's, a department store chain from n Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in Tampa in September. Coloring rendering of revamped University Mall.
[CBRE Group]