Melissa Medina, president of eMerge Americas, says the state government needs to change for the future.
“Our government needs to look at a long-term strategy to pivot a bit from just focusing on tourism, agriculture and real estate,” she said.
Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, agrees. He says Orlando’s growth isn’t coming from tourism like it has in the past. A record 126.1 million out-of-state visitors came to Florida in 2018. The tourism industry brought in $86 billion in 2017, much of that thanks to Orlando’s theme parks.
“Orlando had 130 million tourists this year, their growth is occurring outside tourism, it’s more in tech and aerospace,” Vitner said.
Richard Florida is a researcher at the Florida International University Creative City Initiative. He acknowledged the need for different jobs to revitalize the mostly-service driven economy where over a third of renters in Miami are cost-burdened.
“I think the problem in Florida, and in particularly for Miami, when it comes to housing, it’s not housing for tech workers — it’s housing for poor people,” he said. Miami is the worst large metropolitan area in the country, according to an FIU Metropolitan Center study.
Housing was another issue addressed at the summit. Experts called on state legislation to amend bills and incentivize developers to build more affordable housing units.