Bracing for the next recession

Things are looking brighter for businesses in the Sunshine State.

Florida ranks No. 11 in cable business news channel CNBC’s annual Top States for Business rankings, up from No. 17 in 2021. While many so-called “listicles” used by digital media outlets to push page views are of the infotainment variety at best, there are some interesting tidbits in the CNBC report that business owners and entrepreneurs should take note of.

According to CNBC, the annual report used 88 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness to rank the 50 states. In addition to infrastructure and access to capital, the categories included cost of doing business, economy, life, health & inclusion, technology & innovation, business friendliness and workforce.

Workforce was one of the biggest bright spots for Florida, cracking the Top 10 to come in at No. 6, up from 12th place in 2021.

With unemployment low and pressure on employers to fill positions high, workforce was the highest-weighted category of the 10 metrics. The CNBC report said, in addition to measuring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers in the states and percentage of workers with college degrees, the metric was expanded this year to include workers with associate degrees and industry-recognized certificates.

This is a strength that is particularly important to our region with growing educational opportunities at state colleges and universities as well as ambitious efforts to expand healthcare education opportunities with projects like the MedNex initiative in Palm Coast.

But declines in access to capital and infrastructure are troubling.

While Florida’s overall score improved from last year, there are a couple of metrics that do not bode well for the state’s future economic growth. The Sunshine State slipped from the Top 5 in the infrastructure category to 13th and tumbled 17 spots to No. 20 in access to capital.

 

It is one thing to attract new business development with the promise of a skilled and ready workforce, but if businesses small and large face problems with financing and capital accumulation – not to mention potential infrastructure issues with supply chain problems already causing economic headwinds – that strength will dissipate if companies can’t get things off the ground.

Two other metrics where Florida needs to do better are cost of doing business and business friendliness. While measures improved compared to last year, they are still in the lower half of the scale, with “business friendliness” just outside of the bottom fifth of the nation.

Still, there is much to be happy with in the report, especially Florida’s rank of No. 4 in overall economy and a big gain in the technology & innovation category.

The CNBC report may not be a wake-up call for local and state leaders, but it can be a useful snapshot of where Florida is doing well and where there is need for improvement. And with a lot of economic uncertainty, that can only be a good thing.

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