Monday, August 20, 2018
Business

In race for Central Florida growth, Orlando will pass Tampa Bay

Won't be too long before Tampa Bay's longtime little brother, Orlando, becomes the bigger sibling of the Central Florida economy.

Long-term economic forecasts say the "gross metro product" — a metropolitan region's GNP — of Orlando should catch and surpass that of Tampa Bay in about 16 years or about 2029.

What is Orlando doing that Tampa Bay is not? Both regions want to grow and upgrade their economies. What will push Orlando ahead of Tampa Bay?

Location, location, location.

Not only can Orlando expand geographically in every direction. Not only is the region already familiar to millions. But longer term, coastal Florida will get increasingly crowded, driving more newcomers — including retiring baby boomers — into the interior of the state. And many will end up in Orlando.

So says economist Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida.

Yes, that UCF based in Orlando. Does that mean Snaith favors Orlando's growth prospects? Maybe. But I agree with his forecasts. Over decades, the potential to get bigger lies more with a focused Orlando than the more balkanzied Tampa Bay, whose western edge along the Gulf of Mexico is already pretty packed.

"As the coastal area gets more expensive, more people will be squeezed into the middle of the state," Snaith argues.

Orlando's gross metro product this year will hit $98 billion. Tampa Bay's will be $106 billion, 8 percent bigger.

By 2029, forecasts say, Orlando's $177.8 billion of output will edge out Tampa Bay's $177.2 billion. By 2042, Orlando's economy should hit $282 billion, 6 percent bigger than Tampa Bay's.

Part of me is miffed that Tampa Bay will slip behind Orlando. Yet, signs of Orlando's rise are already apparent.

Orlando is a tourism mecca historically driven by Disney and, lately, Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Tampa Bay can't compete with such pop entertainment allure.

Tampa Bay lost its chance to join a modern transportation system last year when the feds diverted to other states money initially pledged to a Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail line. Florida Gov. Rick Scott opposed the federal deal, citing the risk of state funds being on the hook to cover future cost overruns.

Since then, Orlando defied mass-transit opponents, even winning Scott's support for a regional commuter rail line called SunRail. Now there's talk about connecting a private rail line between Orlando and Miami. Any statewide network of passenger lines must inevitably run through Orlando's strategic location in the state.

As Snaith points out, the Miami area is hemmed in between water and the Everglades. And Jacksonville seems a bit too far north to become a main attraction for many lured to Florida for the sunshine and mild winters.

Tampa Bay will continue to grow nicely, right along with faster-expanding Orlando, Snaith says. Both metro regions talk often about coordinating their growth, connected by the I-4 Corridor.

Says Snaith: "They may look like twin cities in the future."

That's not a bad economic forecast at all.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
TECO customers wonít pay for hurricane recovery costs

TECO customers wonít pay for hurricane recovery costs

Itís official ó Tampa Electric Co. customers wonít be paying for hurricane recovery costs. State regulators on Monday unanimously approved the utilityís request to use savings under the new federal tax law to cover hurricane-related costs."The ratepa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Red Tide or not, Pinellas County confident it will reach record tourism tax dollars

Red Tide or not, Pinellas County confident it will reach record tourism tax dollars

Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater, Pinellas Countyís tourism arm, is on par to surpass the $54.7 million it collected in bed tax money last fiscal year. Even if a bout of Red Tide hits the beaches hard. It would be the highest amount of money the count...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Canadaís Flair Airlines to offer new nonstop service between Winnipeg and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

Canadaís Flair Airlines to offer new nonstop service between Winnipeg and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

CLEARWATER ó Canada-based Flair Airlines on Monday said it will launch nonstop flights between Winnipeg and six Sunbelt destinations, including St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport."Having brought low-fare service to 10 Canadian cities this summ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Hernando Business Digest for Aug. 24

Business digestBrieflyCHICK DAYS AT TRACTOR SUPPLY: Tractor Supply, 18741 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, is celebrating Chick Days now through Sept. 23. Although some may associate springtime with starting a flock, experts agree that late summer is a gre...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Bay, state gas prices down 5 cents over the week

Tampa Bay, state gas prices down 5 cents over the week

Summer is winding down, and so are gas prices. Florida pump prices averaged $2.76 per gallon Monday, down five cents over the week. Thatís just ahead of Tampa Bayís $2.72 per gallon average, which was also down five cents since last week according to...
Updated: 7 hours ago
PepsiCo buys Israelís SodaStream for $3.2 billion

PepsiCo buys Israelís SodaStream for $3.2 billion

JERUSALEM ó Beverage giant PepsiCo on Monday purchased Israelís fizzy drink maker SodaStream for $3.2 billion, a boon for a company that has enjoyed a resurgence after being targeted by anti-Israel boycotters in the past. PepsiCo said it was acquirin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

The state has a challenge: How to spend a windfall from the Volkswagen diesel-gate scandal. The German manufacturer agreed to pay $2 billion to promote zero-emission vehicles and spend billions more to buy back or modify most of the cars. Nearly $3 b...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny,Iím a recent college grad whoís been working an entry-level job for the past year. I only make about $33,000 a year, but Iím doing OK. Iím able to pay my bills without taking on more debt. One of the reasons Iím able to do so is that I dri...
Published: 08/17/18
Updated: 08/19/18
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG ó A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Published: 08/17/18
Tampa Bayís seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

Tampa Bayís seventh renovated Winn-Dixie opens in Hernando County

SPRING HILL ó The latest Winn-Dixie remodel opened in Hernando County on Thursday.This marks the seventh remodeled Winn-Dixie parent company Southeastern Grocers has unveiled in Tampa Bay this year. The chain promised renovations following emerging f...
Published: 08/17/18