Florida gives economic development spotlight
Florida has taken a more active role in pursuing economic development in the past few years, the state’s Secretary of Commerce and President and CEO of Enterprise Florida says.
Gray Swoope, who was keynote speaker at the Beacon Council’s annual meeting Thursday, said that for many years Florida had an economy that would allow the state to sit back and not be aggressive. He worked in Mississippi, where he is originally from, and said that at the time he didn’t see Florida as an active player looking for businesses outside of the state or out of the US.
“That changed in 2008,” Mr. Swoope said, with the economic recession. And, he said, since he took over in 2011 the state organization has become much more aggressive in seeking business growth.
He said the Miami-Dade economy is a cornerstone of the Florida economy, especially due to its connectivity. “I used to think Miami was the Hong Kong of Latin America,” he said, “but we have more resources here. With American Airlines, for instance, we have access to the world from this city.”
A common ingredient in successful cities, Mr. Swoope said, is the partnership between business leaders and elected officials. That key ingredient, he said, is what both Enterprise Florida and the Beacon Council work to achieve at the state and local levels.
In the past two years, he said, Enterprise Florida has focused its strategy on three areas: marketing opportunity, such as making it easy for entrepreneurs and companies to come to the state; facilitating their growth; and working on competitive projects, such as competing for new businesses or expansions.
“Florida hasn’t been as aggressive as possible, but we knew that we had to beef up our game,” Mr. Swoope said. “Competitive projects are up 40% in success in the past two years.”
He said the state and the county have much momentum and that from a stock market point of view, Florida is a strong buy.