The Florida Chamber Foundation on Thursday sketched a set of goals aimed at enhancing the state's business climate and ability to compete by 2030:
Create a less costly commercial insurance system. Keep Florida taxes low compared to other states. And pursue business-friendly policies on regulation, permitting, property rights protection, litigation and employment.
The effort is the latest step in a once-in-a-decade project called Florida 2030, in which the foundation is recommending priorities to position the state to thrive in six different ways. Among them: the supply of talent and education; innovation and economic development; infrastructure; and quality of life.
Along the way, the foundation has delved into some non-business-y issues that it says still have a lot to with fostering prosperity.
Here's one: How does the scarcity of affordable child care perpetuate poverty from generation to generation?
And another: How often do working-class adults face disincentives to pursuing better-paying jobs because a small raise can disqualify them for social service benefits that help them raise families and prepare children for school?
"A lot of our work focuses on building and rebuilding an economy that's not only good for a positive business climate and free enterprise … but (also) what will drive prosperity for Floridians by assisting vibrant and sustainable communities," foundation executive vice president Tony Carvajal told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board.
Trends and factors behind the business climate and competitiveness goals that the foundation outlined Thursday include:
• Florida's property insurance rates are the highest in the nation, according to 2017 information from the National Association of Insurance Companies. Florida property owners paid average premiums of $1,993 for homeowners insurance.
• The state's occupational licensing laws have been ranked as the fifth most burdensome in the nation by the Institute for Justice.
• An Avalanche Consulting review of industry studies characterizes Florida's environmental permitting and local land use processes as among the most complex in the nation. Meanwhile, the chamber noted that a survey of small businesses this summer found that 54 percent of small business respondents said state regulations were somewhat or very reasonable. The state Department of Environmental Regulation has reduced its permit approval times from 79 to 33 days.
• The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform ranks Florida's legal climate as the fifth worst in the nation.
With nearly nine of 10 Florida businesses employing fewer than 20 people, the top issues identified in the chamber's small-business survey were workforce quality (29 percent); economic uncertainty (14 percent); government regulation and lawsuit abuse (9 percent each) and health care costs and growth management issues (6 percent each).
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To create what it describes as a supportive environment for employers, the foundation says the state could pursue strategies such as limiting new laws that might inhibit emerging technologies and new business models. It also suggests maintaining Florida's right-to-work status and creating clear guidelines for the growing number of freelancers and independent contractors in the labor force.
In putting together its business competitiveness goals for Florida 2030, the foundation said the state has to cope with a variety of business and social changes via:
Innovation, such as automated vehicles, shared assets and big data.
Work, through the growth of and the disruption caused by the gig economy.
The growth of regional economies, meaning labor markets and business-to-business relationships can cross local and other boundaries, resulting in exposure to regulations from multiple jurisdictions.
Constrained resources, including household debt that's at record levels and federal debt relative to the size of the economy, which is heading to its highest level since World War II.
Risk. This means everything from extreme weather and sea-level rise to inflows of invasive species and infectious diseases, plus cyber-security vulnerabilities and other threats.
"None of this is easy," Carvajal said. "The next 10, 12, 15 years are going to be more disruptive than ever before."
Contact >Richard Danielson