March 4, 2024
Florida's Future
Florida Trend asked 13 experts to share their insights on Florida's future.

Photo: iStock

Florida's Future
"Due to the ever-changing demands of the 21st century workforce, students must master new skills so they are not left behind, unprepared for the careers of the digital age," says Tonjua Williams, President of St. Petersburg College.

Photo: St. Petersburg College

Florida's Future
"I envision a future that brings radical creativity toward ‘health care at any address’ so that people don’t feel like patients but ‘people who want to thrive without health care getting in the way,’ even if they have diabetes, cancer or heart disease," says Stephen Klasko, Miami, former president/CEO, Jefferson University and Jefferson Health; former dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

Photo: Jefferson Health

Florida's Future
"Along with data-driven decisions, I envision a future where the children and families we serve find a more integrated and accessible continuum of support," says Jessica Muroff, CEO, United Way Suncoast.
Florida's Future
"Over the next decade, JaxPort will grow across all our major cargo types — containers, automobiles and non-containerized goods. The booming population of the Southeast U.S., particularly Florida, is a significant driver of that growth," Eric Green, CEO, JaxPort.

Photo: JaxPort

Florida's Future
"Florida will continue to attract and educate talented people to build the innovations that will shape the future. By celebrating, discovering and engaging together, we can meet the challenges ahead and show the world that ‘Innovation Lives Here,'” says Lauren Prager, CEO, Synapse.

65th Anniversary

Florida's Future

We asked 13 experts in their respective fields to look into their crystal balls. Here are their thoughts on the decade ahead.

| 7/18/2023
  • Real Estate

“Florida’s real estate market will continue to thrive for the next two decades and beyond. Florida has experienced rapid population growth in recent years, boosting the demand for workforce housing. Key factors driving this trend for the foreseeable future include the state’s strong job market, favorable tax policies and a relatively low cost of living compared to other states. Realtors in Florida are grateful for the leadership and commitment of the state’s Legislature and Cabinet to not only the American dream of homeownership but the ability for all Floridians to live where they work in a safe and affordable home.

Florida’s real estate market is also seeing growth in other sectors as international visitors, retirees and more come to enjoy the state’s warm climate, beautiful beaches and desirable lifestyle. Our ongoing challenge — and future opportunities — are balancing strong economic growth, diverse housing needs and preserving quality of life for generations to come.”

— G. Mike McGraw and Margy Grant, president and CEO, Florida Realtors

  • Commercial Real Estate

“The next decade in Florida should be filled with tremendous growth opportunities for residents, workers and visitors. This growth will drive more development across the state for housing, industrial, retail and hospitality. One of the biggest challenges we need to address is affordable housing if we are going to continue on this trajectory. Better public policy to allow smart development and private investment can help but keeping up with the influx of new people will be tough. Attracting new companies and top talent to the state is one of our biggest opportunities and luckily, we have major competitive advantages in place like no state income tax, beautiful weather, quality of life and a pro-business climate to help on this front.”

— Michael Weinberg, managing director, Berkadia, Orlando

  • Land Use

“As Florida continues to attract more residents and businesses, traffic congestion and affordable housing will remain top concerns for many communities statewide. Increasingly, state and local lawmakers are attempting to address both issues by expediting and creating incentives for developers to build more affordable housing options in downtowns and along public transit lines. For example, Florida’s Live Local Act, which took effect July 1, allows urban, multifamily developments to be built higher and denser if they commit to making at least 40% of their units affordable for low- and moderate-income residents. And in Miami-Dade County, new Rapid Transit Zones designations incentivize more residential construction around existing and proposed transit stations. Given the expected population growth in Florida over the next decade, many government officials understand the need to be creative, expedite processes and help ensure that affordable, transit-oriented housing is better planned to meet future needs.”

— Iris Escarra, shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Miami, and co-chair of the firm’s land use practice

  • Education

“The role of higher education is evolving rapidly in an era defined by emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality and blockchain. Due to the ever-changing demands of the 21st century workforce, students must master new skills so they are not left behind, unprepared for the careers of the digital age. Many students need shortterm, rapid credentials as the demand for credentialed workers is increasing. This presents community colleges with opportunities to offer short-term certification programs that get students into the workforce, or reskilled for new industries, quickly. Students may use these credentials toward a degree in the future. By offering on-ramps to educational pathways that can be scaled upon, aligning our curriculum with industry needs and providing job placement resources, community colleges are uniquely situated to help build the talent pipeline required to respond to the workforce needs of today — and tomorrow.”

— Tonjua Williams, president, St. Petersburg College; chair, Florida College System Council of Presidents, 2022-23

“Education continues to quickly evolve in Florida, and when talking with students, it’s clear there’s a growing divide on whether to enroll at a university with a four-year degree track or enroll at a technical college to receive a certification in two years. There are unique attributes to both education models with enrollment largely depending on what individual students hope to gain in their professional career. It must be acknowledged that both models are successful in Florida because they allow some students the opportunity to explore what they want to do in their life over time, while allowing others to get hands-on knowledge in a field they are set on entering. Moving forward, the biggest challenge facing these methods of education lies within how they’re presented to students. Universities must prove how a degree can withstand time and be adaptable. Technical schools must demonstrate how a certification can always be utilized.”

— Sean Schrader, MBA student and campus governor, University of South Florida St. Petersburg

  • Health Care

“The problem in American health care isn’t that we aim too high and fail but aim too low and exactly hit the mark! As a Florida resident, I believe we can be a leader in a future that brings radical collaboration between generative AI and the humans in the middle when offline meets online, selecting and training medical and nursing students to be better humans than the robots (as opposed to memorizing Krebs cycle, the process of cellular metabolization). I envision a future that brings radical creativity toward ‘health care at any address’ so that people don’t feel like patients but ‘people who want to thrive without health care getting in the way,’ even if they have diabetes, cancer or heart disease — and one that brings a radical concentration on health disparities, bringing population health, social determinants and predictive analytics from philosophy to the mainstream of clinical care and payment models. As an obstetrician, science fiction author and former health system CEO, ‘may the forceps be with us!’”

— Stephen Klasko, Miami, former president/CEO, Jefferson University and Jefferson Health; former dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

Florida Health Challenges

  • Low supply of mental health providers
  • High uninsured rate of 12.1%
  • High percentage of households experiencing severe housing problems
  • 52% increase in drug deaths from 22.4 to 34 deaths per 100,000 population between 2018 and 2020

Sources: America’s Health Rankings 2022 Annual Report, United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association.

  • Rising Entrepreneurs

“We expect technology to continue empowering our businesses and connecting people globally. We will continue to build strong alliances, locally in Florida and nationwide to foster economic growth and maximize the return on investment for all our members. Most importantly, we will continue our efforts on behalf of the growing Hispanic community by promoting its values and working tirelessly for its prosperity.”

— Santos Arroyo, founder/CEO, Florida Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce, West Palm Beach

Florida’s Latino Future

  • Florida’s 2018 Latino GDP was $259 billion, larger than the economic output of Louisiana.
  • From 2010 to 2018, Florida’s Latino population growth was nearly 5 times that of non- Latinos and the Latino labor force grew more than 13 times as quickly as the non-Latino labor force.
  • About one quarter — more than 7 million out of an expected statewide population of 26 million — of Floridians are expected to be of Hispanic descent by 2030.

Sources: Latino Donor Collaborative and Wells Fargo, 2022; Bank of America Charitable Foundation, 2022; University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, 2021.

  • Small Business

“The next decade poses exciting opportunities and challenges for small business owners in our state. The Florida Chamber projects that by 2030, 26 million Floridians will call our state home. Florida’s population growth, rapid advances in technology and the changing employment landscape will present big implications for Florida’s small businesses. Our markets are becoming more global and, increasingly, technology is reshaping every industry. Time and time again, Florida’s small businesses have proved their resilient spirit. By remaining relevant and adaptable to change, Florida’s small business owners can take advantage of the opportunities presented over the next decade and find success in an increasingly global marketplace.“

— Greg Britton, state director, Florida Small Business Development Center Network, Pensacola

  • Transportation

“One of Florida’s biggest challenges is also one of its most significant opportunities: managing our state’s evergrowing population. Florida is averaging about 1,000 new residents per day. This influx of consumers means more goods are needed to keep store shelves stocked.

We must manage this growth strategically through continued investment in Florida’s transportation infrastructure. As the state’s largest container port, JaxPort has enjoyed strong bipartisan support over the last decade. This support has allowed us to maintain our efficiencies, so we don’t see cargo ships waiting at anchor off our coast.

Over the next decade, JaxPort will grow across all our major cargo types — containers, automobiles and non-containerized goods. The booming population of the Southeast U.S., particularly Florida, is a significant driver of that growth.

The opportunity is here. If we continue to invest in our state’s transportation assets, we will all benefit from the economic growth and supply chain security that Florida’s transportation network offers.”

— Eric Green, CEO, JaxPort

  • Retail

“Florida’s retail industry is comprised of over 270,000 retail businesses supporting 2.7 million jobs with $49 billion in wages paid to retail employees. Transformation of the retail industry has accelerated in recent years. Retailers have adopted omni-channel practices that allow them to meet the consumer wherever they desire, whether that is in the store, online or on the curb.

With over 22 million residents and 140 million annual visitors, Florida retail stores cater to an impressive and diverse clientele. Florida’s retailers must work to balance online conveniences with the continuing demands for experiential shopping opportunities and brick and mortar store locations. Fortunately, our retailers have shown themselves to be willing and able to adapt and innovate.

The future is bright for Florida’s retailers as they embrace technological advances without ever losing sight of the value of personal service to our neighbors.”

— R. Scott Shalley, president/CEO, Florida Retail Federation

  • Philanthropy

“Data inform our current mission, but every day we push to use research to develop a picture of the future. The bigger goal with predictive analytics is using data in a way that helps inform the needs of our community so we can get in front of trends and issues. We want to be proactive instead of reactive. If we can create and communicate innovations to our community members and our donors, we can better target services and address systemic issues at the root cause.

We hope that data philanthropy — the trend of for-profit companies sharing their private data for public good — morphs into a larger practice. It’s another way corporate donations can help us multiply our impact.

Along with data-driven decisions, I envision a future where the children and families we serve find a more integrated and accessible continuum of support. Through collaborative efforts, we can give our community members a full array of help and amplify their ability to create the life they envision for themselves.

Finally, we have to continue to inspire philanthropy, especially among the next generation of donors who don’t get enough credit for their giving hearts. They too care about the community, but they want to provide support in more efficient ways. We have to champion their generosity, just as we have championed the generosity of our citizens for 99 years.”

— Jessica Muroff, CEO, United Way Suncoast

  • Innovation

“Innovation is thriving all across Florida in different industries, technologies and communities. The way we approach innovation in Florida is unique, with a can-do, collaborative and inclusive mindset, along with leadership that prioritizes creating opportunities. We don’t just come up with ideas and dream big; we also make them happen. We set ambitious goals that can change the world and we work hard to achieve them. Inspiration is key to innovation, and Florida has plenty of it, from its vibrant arts and culture scene to its beautiful natural environment. When we bring together our diverse communities, we foster innovation and create new ideas.

Florida will continue to attract and educate talented people to build the innovations that will shape the future. By celebrating, discovering and engaging together, we can meet the challenges ahead and show the world that ‘Innovation Lives Here.’”

— Lauren Prager, CEO, Synapse

Florida’s Tech Sector

  • Florida technology employment grew by 4.8% in 2022 (more than 22,000 workers), significantly above the national figure of 3.2%.
  • Nearly 485,000 people work in tech-related jobs in Florida, accounting for nearly 5% of the overall state workforce. Florida’s tech workforce ranks fourth in size nationally.
  • The estimated median wage for a tech worker in Florida is $81,533. That’s 113% higher than the median wage for all occupations in the state.

Source: CompTIA

Tags: Around Florida, Education, Healthcare, Non-profit/Philanthropy, Real Estate, Retail & Sales, Technology/Innovation, Transportation, Feature, Startups

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