The Construction Industry - Feast and Famine

We have all heard building is booming. Interest rates have been at historic lows. End users and investors are taking advantage of this environment.

In Okaloosa County, we can see the residential and commercial construction taking place. Remodeling and re-roofing are also a large part of the construction activity. 

The construction industry is a vital component of economic development. Obviously it creates construction jobs. It creates homes and businesses for people to live and work. But it also drives the demand for products and materials and the jobs associated with these products.  Whether it’s a company selling concrete, lumber, shingles or flooring, these jobs are sustained by ongoing demand

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In Our Current Environment, Economic Development is Easier in Florida

What do I mean by that? For almost two years it has become increasingly harder to do economic development in many states.

It started with policy. It manifested in events like riots, COVID-19, school shutdowns, lockdowns, censorship, mandates and more policies such as tax increases.

Last year I wrote about riot-torn cities where businesses were damaged, looted and burned down.  At that time I asked the economic development organizations in Portland, Seattle and Chicago how they were coping. They never responded to my question.

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Unemployment, Underemployment, Full Employment & Maximum Employment

What Are They Talking About & How Does It Affects Economic Development?

We’ve all heard about the unemployment rate, especially during Covid.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.8% in September of this year. Prior to the pandemic it was 3.5%. There has definitely been improvement since the pandemic high of Florida’s unemployment rate is currently 4.9% and was 3.2% prior to the pandemic.

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Call It Working From Home or Remote Work, It's Here to Stay

At least for a few more years according to numerous entities reporting on the subject.

Flexjobs reports the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics data analysis showed 4.7 million people, about 3.4% of the US workforce, were already working remotely before Covid 19 hit.
Global Workplace Analytics reports remote work in the U.S has risen by 173% between 2005 and 2018. Upwork conducted a survey of 1,500 hiring managers. They predicted 36.2 million workers or 22% of Americans will be working remotely by the year 2025, an 87% increase from pre-Covid 19 levels.

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Here They Come
Florida, Here They Come

Almost 330,000 Americans Moved To Florida in the Last Year

According to Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, our state grew by an estimated 329,717 new residents between April 2020 and April 2021. reports Florida was the No. 1 destination for relocating Americans in 2020. They used internal metrics, U.S. Census Bureau data, and a Pollfish survey. More than 2 million customer transactions from U-Haul migration stats shows Florida was the third most popular state, with Tennessee number one and Texas, number two. Though different sources have different results, by any measurement, Florida is popular.

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Acronyms Can Affect Economic Development

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

According to the U.S. Department of Education:
“In an ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it's more important than ever that our nation's youth are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions. These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering, and math, including computer science—disciplines collectively known as STEM/CS. If we want a nation where our future leaders, neighbors, and workers can understand and solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, building students' skills, content knowledge, and literacy in STEM fields is essential.  We must also make sure that, no matter where children live, they have access to quality learning environments. A child's zip code should not determine their STEM literacy and educational options.”

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Inflation, Cost of Living, Unemployment and Economic Development

These days it seems that nearly everyone has an opinion about the state of our nation’s economy, and the subject of inflation is at the forefront of these debates.  The administration tells us there is no inflation. On the other hand the Federal Reserve says it’s just temporary. It does make you wonder how both can be true.

The simple definition of inflation is prices of goods rising over time and the value of currency declining. It takes more money to buy what we need. Some spend instead of saving because they know their money will buy less and earn less in the future. Many refer to inflation as a hidden tax. The middle class and the poor are affected the most of course. Those on fixed incomes really suffer.

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Big Tech Economic Development
Is Big Tech A Threat to Economic Development?

Amazon has now surpassed Walmart as the nation’s leading retailer, purchasing more than 100 companies since its inception. They own portions of many other companies and have plans to purchase more in the future. It seems like they sell everything. We are addicted to ordering from Amazon due to low prices, vast choices and fast delivery.

During 2020, the Covid “lockdowns” caused many businesses to close their doors. At the same time, Amazon’s sales increased by 38%, making $386 billion dollars. Many local businesses were deemed “non-essential” and had to close their doors for a period of time – some never to reopen

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History - Why It is Important to Economic Development

Why is history important to economic development?

History is part of what creates a sense of place. You will often here that phrase in economic development. A community wants their place to be a desirable destination.

Every city or town has some kind of history and some interesting, quirky and/or beautiful features.
In my economic development work, I have had to examine many community websites. Some are good and some are bad. The good ones dedicate some space to showcase the unique attributes of the community. Everyone has something to highlight. Some just don’t take advantage of this opportunity.

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Borders and Economic Development
Borders, Immigration and Economic Development

Why do we have borders? What are they for?

Borders are organizational tools, aren’t they? Countries are defined by their borders on the map. They are also defined by their laws, government leaders at all levels and often language and culture. Governments control their borders and protect their borders.

Borders also define states and counties. While economic development is often regional in aspiration, results are often specific to counties and cities.

Without borders we wouldn’t know where we are. We wouldn’t know what laws might be different depending on how many miles we drove in any direction. We could get in a lot of trouble.

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