Florida Council of 100 Unveils Jobs Strategy

The private-sector-led “Beyond Sunshine” strategy can focus resources, accelerate Florida’s growth trajectory, and strengthen the state’s economic future

Eric Silagy

The Florida Council of 100, a group of over 150 business leaders dedicated to fostering economic growth and improving the quality of life in Florida, today announced a first-of-its-kind economic development strategy to harness the private sector and propel Florida into a new era of success. The “Beyond Sunshine” initiative, detailed in a report released today, provides a roadmap to leverage the Sunshine State’s regional strengths and attract jobs in higher-wage industries, promoting long-term economic resilience and a better future for all Floridians.

With an annual GDP of nearly $1.3 trillion, Florida has grown in recent decades into a thriving hub ideal for locating and building globally competitive businesses. The Beyond Sunshine strategy outlines a path to sustain and accelerate this growth. Developed by the Florida Council of 100 in partnership with state economic development leaders, the strategy focuses resources to nurture higher-wage economic clusters in Florida’s six major regional economies and three rural areas of opportunity. Florida Council of 100 research indicates that investment in these clusters and regions could add up to 200,000 new jobs in higher-wage industries in Florida by 2030, contributing nearly $100 billion in added GDP to the nation’s fourth-largest economy.

“Florida has an incredible opportunity to accelerate growth and cement our place as a global leader in entrepreneurship, research, innovation, and commerce,” said Florida Council of 100 Chair Eric Silagy. “Through targeted investments in higher-wage sectors, we will not only navigate the rapidly changing economic and technological landscape—but help to shape it for the benefit of everyone who calls Florida home today and for future generations.”

Florida boasts the second-lowest unemployment rate among the top 10 largest states and leads in GDP and income growth rates. Its favorable business climate, characterized by low taxes and light-touch regulation, supports a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that has seen over 266,000 new businesses formed in Florida in 2024 alone. Additionally, Florida was the top state for corporate relocations in 2023. Florida’s educational system, ranked first in the nation, provides a robust talent pipeline for emerging industries.

The Beyond Sunshine strategy outlines three priorities to build on this strong foundation and ensure continued economic growth:

  • Nurturing Existing Higher-Wage Economic Clusters: Focusing investment in regional clusters of opportunity in sectors poised for additional growth, such as aerospace, financial services, e-commerce, clean technology, biotechnology, and manufacturing, to drive regional economic specialization and expansion.
  • Higher-Wage Job Creation: Coordinating with university, state college, career and technical education (CTE) programs, and industry partners to align education and workforce development with higher-wage job opportunities and catalyze economic activity across sectors.
  • Elevating Florida’s Economic Success Story: Changing perceptions both domestically and internationally to highlight Florida as the best place to start a career, build wealth, and raise a family.
Michael Simas

The Florida Council of 100 will coordinate implementation of the Beyond Sunshine strategy, working in partnership with regional economic development organizations, education partners, and the state to steer investment to higher-wage sectors, align talent with opportunity, and address challenges to sustained expansion.

“Working in partnership with our state and regional leaders, the Florida Council of 100 is uniquely positioned to help businesses align with higher-wage industries and drive the next stage of our economic development,” said Florida Council of 100 President & CEO Michael Simas. “Our goal is attracting even more investment to these industries in Florida, building resilience and ensuring the state remains the destination of choice for businesses, investors, employees, and their families.”

“I applaud the Florida Council of 100 for laying out this data-driven strategy to accelerate economic growth and elevate Florida’s communities and families,” said Florida Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly. “Florida’s economic ecosystem provides certainty for entrepreneurship and innovation to thrive and is well-equipped to chart a course toward our next stage of development. I look forward to partnering with the Council to make the state an even better place to work and live.”

For more information about the Beyond Sunshine report and the Florida Council of 100, visit https://fc100.org/research/beyond-sunshine

The Florida Council of 100 is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of business leaders committed to promoting economic growth and improving the quality of life for the people of our state. First established in 1961 by Governor Farris Bryant, for more than six decades, the Council has been charged with providing advice on key policy issues from the business community’s perspective to Florida’s elected leaders and government officials across the political and ideological spectrum. Today, the Florida Council of 100 represents 150 businesses with over 1.3 million employees.