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Politics

Mark Wilson: Florida Must Expand From Reliance on Ag, Tourism, Construction

September 5, 2012 - 6:00pm

Floridians shouldnt expect the economy to ever revert to how it was built pre-recession, the head of the Florida Chamber of Commerce told small-business owners Thursday.

Not that a full recovery wont happen, but Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson said that the biggest parts of Florida's economic engine must expand from what have been the three dominant pillars for decades: agriculture, tourism and construction.

If Florida was a country, with a GDP of $750 billion, wed be the 20th largest economy in the world, and its time for us to start looking at ourselves that way, Wilson told a gathering of small-business owners from across Florida invited to the two-day Small-Business Leadership Forum at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel in Tampa.

Were a big deal, we have big opportunities. People want to do business with Florida and that means small-business opportunities.

He added that Florida doesnt need to replace any of the big-three pillars. But instead, Florida must add to its commercial base as the state grows by approximately 200 people a day.At that growth rate, the state would need to grow 2 million jobs by 2020 to have an unemployment rate that is down to 6 percent.

You cant go back to the kind of economy we had before, Wilson said. We cant go back to being cheap.We have to create an ecosystem and a small-business marketplace that meets the opportunity of the new economy were building to.

The forum is being put on by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Florida State University's Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship.

Atwater is using the forum to provide small-business owners with information on access to capital, matters of human resources, and potentially linking them with mentors and investors.

There is a great concern about financing the growth that is to come, Atwater said.

At the same time, he will be mining for issues the state could use to improve the states business climate and possibly help push for the repeal of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, better known as Dodd-Frank, named after sponsors Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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