The future of Florida is looking sunny
Florida's economy has taken a big hit in what is now being called the Great Recession. But you can be sure the same assets that helped build the Florida economy 10 years ago are also the same ones that will rebuild it now.
If you pay attention, you'll notice a few subtle signs that Florida is starting to regain its economic footing and status in the country. Although we were hit with an over abundance of foreclosures and short sales, Florida is selling off this bad inventory faster than other states like Arizona.
This is the first and crucial step in bringing the real estate market back to a healthy level. There's no doubt that it's happening and as I wrote a few weeks ago in this column, it's starting on Anna Maria Island and all other waterfront communities along both coasts and moving inland.
The next not so subtle sign is the baby boomers that just can't be ignored. There are 76 million of us born between 1946 and 1964 and 2011 is the year that the first wave of boomers turns 65. As we all know, this is the best educated generation and the one that that has made the most cultural changes in our history, and they're coming. They may not all move South, but out of 76 million, we're bound to see plenty. And since this generation considers retirement something their parents did, we're probably going to see the boomers coming to Florida, not only to buy real estate but also to start businesses. Just look around the Island at the new businesses that have been popping up. Most of the owners came from someplace else where they had successful careers, and most of them are baby boomers.
Another thing I've been reading about is the expansion of the Panama Canal, scheduled to be completed in 2014. Port Manatee, which is currently the fourth largest port for exports in the country, is gearing up for increased business from the widening of the Panama Canal. They are expanding the port's facilities with a new berth and a planned 52-acre container terminal. Because of this, the state will be in line to benefit from the enlarged Panama Canal, positioning itself as the gateway for the Caribbean and South America. By the way, if you've never done it, Port Manatee offers complimentary tours of the port facility via open air trams. For information on how to arrange a tour, go to www.portmanatee.com.
There also seems to be out of state companies looking at the state of Florida as a good place to do business. We continue to be a business friendly state with no state income tax, well priced real estate, both residential and commercial, and a large pool of available employees. Jackson Laboratory, which is a biomedical research institution from the Northeast, is moving to the Manatee/Sarasota area and bringing 200 jobs with it. Jackson is another company, along with Sanborn Studios, that hopefully will find relocating to Florida to be financially advantageous.
Finally, Florida has gained quite a bit of political clout in recent years. The rest of the country looks to Florida as a swing state in national elections with the population increasing.
All of this is great for real estate. The more businesses move into Florida and the more those baby boomers decide they want warmth on their aging bones, the better it gets. It sure looks like the Sunshine State is poised at the brink of a substantial recovery. Will we be the comeback kid of the country? I think we already are, but it's still a secret.