Florida Continues to Lead America into the Digital Future

Florida Continues to Lead America into the Digital Future

Opinion
Opinion
|
April 24, 2024

Florida is swiftly evolving into one of our nation's economic powerhouses, largely due to its booming technology sector. Recognized as one of the top five tech states by net employment, Florida has experienced the second-largest tech job growth in the United States. The state is drawing global talent and investments, fueling economic growth, strengthening infrastructure, and preparing for an increasingly digital future.

According to the World Economic Forum's 2023 Future of Jobs Report, 85 percent of organizations view technology adoption as a critical driver of business transformation over the next five years. To capitalize on this growth, Florida is expanding digital access and embracing new technologies across both private and public sectors.

In a recent report by Florida TaxWatch, the 2023 MakeMore Manufacturing Summit Summary highlighted significant growth in Florida’s manufacturing industry, emphasizing the ongoing "digital transformation" within the sector. This transformation boosts productivity and efficiency, making it crucial for all industries to adopt such changes. Florida’s manufacturing entities are strategizing to be digitally prepared for opportunities in innovation and automation.

As both technology and manufacturing industries expand, and Florida's population increases, the demand for broadband infrastructure becomes more pressing. An increasing number of residents will require high-speed digital connections. The development of robust local and national infrastructure is critical and should be supported by both public and private sectors. Enhanced access to reliable, high-speed networks fosters growth in state and national GDP and maintains competitive standards on an international level.

A 2020 study by Omdia, the Fiber Development Index, ranked the United States 19th globally in fiber development, with China in fourth place. Rapid investment in broadband infrastructure is essential for national security and maintaining technological parity with global adversaries.

Public initiatives have already begun addressing these needs. The Biden Administration announced the establishment of 31 'Tech Hubs', with Miami designated as one, supported by a $500 million allocation from the Economic Development Administration. This designation underscores the region's role in leading technological advances nationally and globally over the coming decade.

Governor DeSantis has also played a pivotal role by allocating nearly $233 million to expand broadband internet access in Florida. This investment will enable residents to find jobs, access educational resources, and expand businesses, promoting statewide technological growth.

Significant private sector investments are simultaneously enhancing Florida's technology landscape. Notably, companies such as Gigapower—a joint venture between communications firm AT&T and BlackRock, a large financial asset management firm—are making active contributions to the state's tech sector. Gigapower recently announced its expansion into the Florida panhandle, including areas like Okaloosa County, Crestview, and Fort Walton Beach. Additionally, their reach is extending to Eatonville, further boosting Florida's economic and technological development.

These investments are vital for the prosperity of Florida's residents and the broader American technology sector. By providing high-speed internet access to rural communities across Florida, these initiatives not only bridge the digital divide but also catalyze the state's economic expansion and enhance employment opportunities. Such strategic investments are foundational in driving America's technological leadership and economic vitality.

Access to high-speed fiber internet enables residents, educational institutions, and businesses to function more efficiently and effectively, ensuring that America stays connected and competitive on a global scale. These advancements not only guarantee that Florida's technology and manufacturing sectors can keep pace with the rapid development and demand for internet access but also solidify the state's status as a national and global leader in technology, strategically positioning it at the forefront of the digital era.

James Taylor is Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Technology Council.

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Opinions are published by some Floridian reporters and lawmakers, and political pundits, and operatives

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