Florida Regional Economic Symposium Presents Encouragement, Challenges On Economic Future
LAKELAND (April 13, 2012) – More than 100 participants attending the Florida Regional Economic Symposium at FSC received cautiously encouraging news about the economy of Central Florida. They also were given a challenge to take a different approach in rebuilding the state’s economic base.
The second annual Symposium, organized by the Barney Barnett School of Business & Free Enterprise at FSC, attracted members of the local business community, faculty, and students. They heard Doug Ackerman, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, and Dr. Dale Brill, President of the Florida Chamber Foundation, give co-keynote addresses. They also heard a panel of economics professors present analyses of the economies of Tampa, Polk County, Orlando, and Jacksonville.
Dr. Brill posed the question, “Is Florida over?” The state cannot continue its past reliance on agriculture, tourism, and military bases to support the economy, he said.
“The Florida of the past 10, 20, or 30 years is gone. What we must do differently is end the complacency that put the business community on the sideline watching its decline,” he said.
Mr. Ackerman, appointed in January to head the independent agency that markets the $9 billion Florida citrus industry, outlined the current challenges facing growers, processors, and distributors. Among those challenges are greening disease, competition from other beverages, health concerns about sugar consumption, and lack of appeal to younger consumers.
He outlined the integrated marketing strategy currently employed by his department to increase demand for orange juice and increase prices and revenue.
Dr. Carl Brown, Professor of Economics at FSC, was part of the panel that presented data about the economies of four Central Florida areas. His presentation about Polk County noted that the 2007-2009 recession caused a 7 percent drop in economic activity. He said job growth would continue to increase in 2012 but housing continues to be a weak sector of the local economy.
Other members of the panel were: Dr. Brian Kench of the Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa, Dr. Hassan Pordeli of the Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University, and Dr. William Seyfried of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park.
The afternoon was devoted to presentations of academic papers.
The Symposium was sponsored by CPS Investment Advisors of Lakeland, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, The Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa, and the Academic and Business Research Institute.