Monday, April 23, 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
Work starting on JW Marriott, but Water Street Tampa expects to have 10 buildings under way within a year

Work starting on JW Marriott, but Water Street Tampa expects to have 10 buildings under way within a year

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa marks the start of construction Tuesday on its first building, the posh JW Marriott hotel, but there’s a lot more to come.And soon.Within a year, developers said Monday, construction should be underway on 10 — 10! — of Wate...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa draws praise, criticism at penalty hearing

Foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa draws praise, criticism at penalty hearing

CLEARWATER — Homeowners from as far away as Texas and North Carolina crowded a Pinellas County courtroom Monday in support of embattled foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa. Facing possible disbarment for professional misconduct, Stopa also drew s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa workers accuse General Dynamics unit of underpaying

Tampa workers accuse General Dynamics unit of underpaying

TAMPA — The Tampa call center of a federal contractor is being accused of underpaying its employees. Workers for General Dynamics Information Technology filed wage theft complaints with the Department of Labor Monday, calling for an investigation int...
Updated: 1 hour ago
With lights from Toys R Us dimmed, sales plunge at Hasbro

With lights from Toys R Us dimmed, sales plunge at Hasbro

Associated PressNEW YORK — With its sales falling due to the liquidation of Toys R Us, Hasbro is looking for new places to sell Monopoly, My Little Pony and its other toys. Hasbro said Monday it will rely more on online sales, although it has also be...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Sears’ biggest shareholder offers to buy Kenmore brand

Sears’ biggest shareholder offers to buy Kenmore brand

Associated PressNEW YORK — Sears’ biggest shareholder appears to be pushing for a breakup of the 125-year-old company that has survived two world wars and the Great Depression. Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert — whose hedge fund has forwarded millions...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lucky’s Market hosting job fairs in St. Petersburg ahead of June opening

Lucky’s Market hosting job fairs in St. Petersburg ahead of June opening

ST. PETERSBURG — Job fairs to fill more than 100 jobs open at Tampa Bay’s first Lucky’s Market start this week, the organic grocer announced on Monday. The grocery store, located at 6765 22nd Ave. N, is hosting hiring fairs Monday through Friday unti...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Swimmer Michael Phelps to headline Crystal Lagoon grand opening Saturday

Swimmer Michael Phelps to headline Crystal Lagoon grand opening Saturday

WESLEY CHAPEL — Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps will splash down Saturday at the Crystal Lagoon in Wesley Chapel’s Epperson development.Phelps, a global ambassador for Crystal Lagoons, will appear at the grand opening of the first Crystal Lagoon...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Big visitor calls at Port Tampa Bay

Big visitor calls at Port Tampa Bay

TAMPA — The 750-foot-long Ireland, one of the biggest cargo vessels ever to call at Port Tampa Bay, arrived Sunday.The Ireland is on its inaugural voyage, having left a shipyard in China for a stop in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula to pick up 64,865 shor...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Bay gas prices rocket 17 cents over a week

Tampa Bay gas prices rocket 17 cents over a week

Floridians are paying plenty at the pump for a combination of spring gas prices and high oil prices this week. Gas jumped 11 cents per gallon over the week in Florida, averaging $2.74 per gallon Monday, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. That’s t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Apartments planned for shuttered stores at Pasco’s Gulf View Square mall

Apartments planned for shuttered stores at Pasco’s Gulf View Square mall

PORT RICHEY — The new owner of two shuttered department stores at Gulf View Square mall wants to demolish the former retail outlets and replace them with nearly 400 apartments.The complex, called Gables at Gulf View, would be on the west side of the ...
Updated: 6 hours ago