Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Peter Kageyama
by Peter Kageyama
Tue Dec 15th 2009 at 8:00am UTC

Where Is Your Reset?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Red on top

I was talking to a 60-year-old, retired entrepreneur at a party the other night. Successful guy, very sharp. I asked him what he thinks is next for Florida and he said he did not have much hope for Florida, mostly due to lack of visionary leadership. Then he said something that really struck me. He suggested that Florida is on a course to reset to its old state of being “cheap, sunny, and dumb.”

That really struck me because while we are all talking about the great reset that is going on, I had not thought to ask the question, “What does Florida reset to?” And he may very well be right. At the state level, we are relaxing the rules for developers  to encourage even more sprawl to try to kick-start our construction industry again. We are actually lowering impact fees in places. We are lowering protections on the environment. This seems like a reset towards “cheap, sunny, and dumb.” There are powerful forces and attitudes that could very well push Florida back into this reset mode. And that is pretty scary.

While we all generally agree that this reset is needed and welcomed in some cases, we should be careful that we don’t reset back to a point so far back that we actually lose too much of our hard won progress. We all have to ask ourselves and our leadership what the plan and vision is for this reset. Each community is facing this and we act as if the reset is just something that will happen. That is not the case, yet I hear far too little  debate as to how we actively shape the reset.

Peter Kageyama
by Peter Kageyama
Fri Nov 27th 2009 at 8:00am UTC

Florida Tourism – A Double-Edged Sword

Friday, November 27th, 2009

14th Street Lifeguard Tower

In her September 3 blog post, “Creative Florida”, Rana Florida asked for thoughts about Florida tourism. As a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, I thought I should respond.

Tourism has long been the golden goose in Florida but it is also a double-edged sword. We have no state income tax in large part due to the sales tax revenue that tourism provides. When the tourists come, the coffers fill and all is well. When we have downturns in the economy or other disruptions (such as hurricanes or 9/11) our budgets shrink. This volatility prevents us from having a predictable revenue stream which in turn means less long-term planning.

For better or worse, tourism also defines Florida. For many it is great to have that identity but I know a lot of creative class entrepreneurs in high-tech who lament that they can’t attract talent or VC interest because no one takes Florida seriously as a business environment.

But to me the largest impact of tourism is that it has made us lazy (I say this with love, Florida!). Tourism is easy money and we have coasted on that for too long. When the tourists just arrive with bags of money, why innovate? Why invest in our schools or our infrastructure? Why make the hard tax choices when we can raise the bed tax on hotel rooms or local tax on car rentals? We need to rethink tourism and make it a higher value experience, one that leverages the service economy and makes it more creative and innovative.

Florida had a wake-up call last year when, for the first time since WW2, we had a net outflow of population. That is a seismic shift in the underpinnings of Florida’s economy and I hope that it forces us to look at diversifying our economy and making the harder choices of developing industries beyond the beach and theme park.