Experts: Florida likely to dominate US trade
By Suzy Valentine
Florida is likely to dominate US trade this century and Miami-Dade County should profit in spite of suffering accompanying growing pains, analysts predict.
Making comparisons to the dominance in the 1900s of California and the success in the 1800s of New York, John Kaliski, principal of Cambridge Systematics, said Florida could emerge as the country's economic strength until 2100.
A trend for goods to flow north and south as opposed to east and west, Mr. Kaliski said, is one reason the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce should work with tri-county partners on consolidating a regional hub. He spoke last week at the chamber's Goals Conference.
"In the 1800s, New York was the dominant state in the Union based on transportation, trade across the Atlantic Ocean and the industrial revolution," he said. "In the 1900s, these things came together in California - the baby boom, the military-industrial complex and the celebrity culture."
"Florida is probably better-positioned than any other state to dominate this century," said Mr. Kaliski, who cited an aging and diverse population, an innovative economy, a creative class and increased trade with Latin America for his theory.
But a Florida International University environmental studies expert says the state faces challenges to its supremacy that California and New York never knew.
"There's all this talk about pushing the urban-development boundary line," said FIU associate professor Mahadev Bhat. "Environmentalists will resist it, and that will restrict the room for growth. While New York has great transportation links, the tri-county area doesn't."
In 2003, the federal government recognized South Florida as a separate Metropolitan Statistical Area, making it the sixth-largest US region. Its population is projected to be 7.4 million by 2030.
Four areas of economic diversification fuel growth - trade, tourism, technology and talent, Mr. Kaliski said.
He said a bid to become the seat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas and work on the Strategic Intermodal System would boost trade.
Tourism is established, while technology, he said, is advancing through centers of excellence, the state's seed capital fund and forming of a Scripps Research Institute regional office in Palm Beach County.
Improving educational levels support the area's workforce needs, he said, but its less-than-average incomes could impede development.
In per-capita income, described by Mr. Kaliski as the key indicator of a region's prosperity, the county lags.
"The state was 2% above the national average in 1990 and has been 5% below for the past couple of years," he said. "We've seen a lot of growth in Florida but in lower-wage jobs. Salaries increased 54%, and all of the Southeast Florida counties were below 50%. The gap is widening in Miami-Dade County."
"Metropolitan regions are blending into each other," said Doug Henton, national coordinator for the Alliance for Regional Stewardship. "Political boundaries are still there, but the way we live is different. What's appearing is the concept of city states."