POST WAR BOOM:
The reasons for this
growth was easily discernible: a desirable climate, inexpensive
land, a diversity of resources, and a history of accepted outside investors and
Tourism, of course, dominated the headlines, particularly after 1970 when
thanks to a mouse called Mickey,
All of these factors made many other states envious of
The orange empire developed its own leadership from Florida Cracker
homesteaders many living in
The days of the small gentleman grower are good, replaced by large scale
investors and a maze of administrative and commercial operations, headed by the
Florida Citrus Mutual started to increase citrus prices. There even
developed in the 1940's a statewide detective network to catch nighttime orange
The alliance between the State of
In the days of fresh oranges, packers threw out as much as 40% of the
oranges as split or bruised fruit. There are few injured fruit in the era of
concentrated oranges. With
The Tropicana plant in
THE VEGETABLE BIN. While tobacco and pecans still grow in North Florida, Florida gains more notoriety from his winter vegetable crop and sugar crop located in
Good transportation and migratory farm workers were the keys to inexpensive winter crops that turned much of the interior of South Florida into a harvest of vegetables and fruits. Now competition from Latin America with the end to trade barriers, environmental pressures, and rising costs challenge the continued growth of this industry. Still, it is impressive to drive down US 27 in February and March and see as many as a hundred boxcars of winter produce heading northward with Florida tomatoes, squash, snap beans, and celery.
Modern cultivation will no longer assure Florida's growth in many traditional agricultural areas. Sugar production which mushroomed to "Number One" after the economic blockade of Castro's Cuba in the 1960's and the development of sugar along the eastern side of Lake Okeechobee now faces environmental pressures to curtail growth due to its impact upon the flow of quality water to the Everglades. The return of Latin sugar would also jeopardize this crop.
An area of agricultural growth has been the horticultural industry not only to serve Florida's booming population but also national interest in exotic and traditional plants. Winter flowers light the night air in Southwest Florida as acres of plants are produced for shipment into the North. Growing plants for an urban America will remain a Florida advantage. There is even a small wine industry from Jacksonville to Fort Myers that may not have great economic impact, but nevertheless attracts tourists.
Tourism is effected by the economy, the cost of transportation, the weather (up North, not Florida), and other intangibles, but the trend toward more leisure time, early retirement, and credit purchasing makes a Florida vacation more accessible than even thirty years ago.
Florida tourism has been influenced by every technological development, but remains unchanged in some regards since the early 1900's: good weather, transportation access, and receptive hosts. The winter season and the airplane dominated the tourist season of Southeast Florida. The summer season and the automobile dominate the tourist season for the Panhandle and North Florida. Walt Disney dominates twenty per cent of Florida's tourist travel regardless of the year.
Foreign tourism plays an important role in Florida's plans as six to
seven million foreign tourists spend more money per day than American visitors.
Recent statistics include: 30.9% from Europe (mainly
Orlando/Osceola has more hotel rooms than New York City. The state has 3,550 hotels and motels and countless rental apartments. Some 414,823 people were employed in restaurants and bars in 1994, a figure than doesn't equate with the state's population. There are almost one hundred thousand people working in amusement centers and 18,000 people can be found in automobile rental outlets.
In contrast to the tourist industry which features Florida's above ground assets, phosphate and building materials exploit Florida's below ground resources. Since 1900, Florida has been a world leader in phosphate, but the industry, now concentrated in Central Florida, is sensitive to new resources in the Middle East and Russia, transportation costs, and Florida's wage scale. Many of the foreign competitors are American firms that purchased fields in Morocco and Tunisia. Florida's crushed stone faces a nearby foe in the Yucatan.
If local phosphate resources decline,
Transportation is vital for the tourism industry and ,with
Light industry, citrus, and phosphate are still important products for Florida ports. Tampa is still a major phosphate port. Miami supplies the growing tourist industry of the Bahamas with vital food, fuel, and supplies. The rest of the Caribbean Basin is a major market for the transport of goods from Florida.
The aviation industry is still a major part of the Florida landscape despite the death of airlines that were born in Florida in the 1940's. Florida's location assures its place as the access point to Latin America and Africa, two areas where air traffic will increase as standard of living increases. The greatest airport boom has been in Orlando where Walt Disney World has created a huge charter and international flight boom.
While Florida is still regarded as a tourist and agrarian state, residents know that since World War II Florida's job growth has developed with light industry and the service industry. The per capita income in Florida surpassed its Southern neighbors in the 1950's, but low labor costs, good climate, and the governmental support continue to help Florida grow in manufacturing.
Only retail, health, and personal services has increased more percentage wise than manufacturing, but there has been a shift in the nature of manufacturing since the decline of NASA growth and the end of the Cold War.
In the 1950's and 1960's Florida gained many of the glamour industries in the nation, thanks to the selection ofCape Canaveral for the space program and Florida's natural climate for aviation and large scale construction. Electronics, jet engines, nuclear research, and space communications meant important educational resources for Florida.
Among the leading lights in Florida's technological revolution included the huge Martin Company, who brought 35,000 jobs to the Orlando area and the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft complex near West Palm Beach. Vero Beach was the home of Piper Aircraftwhich saw a boom in the 1950's. Honeywell make Pinellas County home, Sperry Microwave came to Clearwater and United States Industries arrived in Pompano Beach.
Traditional Florida industries continued to operate, such as the pleasure boat industry in the Manatee-Sarasota area and the mobile home industry in North Central and Panhandle Florida. After 1980, there was a shift to computer technology, telecommunications, and electronics, which probably favors the growth of small firms with skilled workers. The problem is whether Florida has the labor skills for firms that do not plan to import outside employees.
With its huge retirement population added to the state's normal population explosion, it is not surprising that health services is a major industry. There are 2.6 million Floridians who are Medicare beneficiaries, one fifth of them in HMOs. A half million people work in health services and the industry is generally recession resistant, a reason why every city wants more health operations. The state has six veteran's hospitals: St. Petersburg, Gainesville, Lake City, Miami, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
While the end of World War II closed down dozens of small airfields and the end of the Cold War closed other facilities, there is still a large military presence in Florida. Mayport Naval Station by Jacksonville is one of the two major Atlantic naval facilities. Eglin Air Force Basein the nation's largest. MacDill Air Base in Tampa survived budget cuts and is the home of Central Command which ran Desert Storm.
Florida's retail industry is a major battleground, but with the
fastest growing large state in the nation, Florida's customers will benefit
from the increased competition. Old
Large scale wholesale operations like Office Depot (Delray Beach), Barnes & Noble, and CompUSA have sliced the retail trade of larger cities. Florida has also become a logical area to open and develop a restaurant chain, since the days of Red Lobster. Recent additions have included: Hooters (Clearwater), Outback Steakhouse and Carabba's (Tampa), and Checkers (St. Petersburg).
The forests of North Florida might be considered old industry in Florida, but, besides the arrival of small plants, the lumber trade has changed. The big St. Joe Paper Company (1938) shifted from the days of pulpwood and corrugated boxes to a plant producing chemicals. The Buckeye Cellulose Corporation in Perry, the Burlington Hosiery Company of Green Cove Springs, and the nylon making Chemstand & American Cnamid Plant in Pensacola were examples of postwar plants in North Florida.
North Florida has emerged as a growth area for retirement communities and small developments. With a climate milder than the Carolinas, this industry will continue to expand and change the face of North Florida.
Somewhat disappointing has been the failure of the oceanography frontier of booming as predicted in the 1960's. Florida still has one of the most notable marine science centers in the University of Miami's Institute of Marine Science and Miami also hosted the International Oceanographic Foundation. Coral Gables has the National Hurricane Center.
Another important employer in Florida is the education industry, without which most of the economic diversity of the State of Florida would be impossible. Not only is education the largest employer in most counties, it is one of Florida's most serious challenges. The rise of entitlement and expenditures has reduced education's share of state revenues from 38% to 28% by 1995, causing grave concerns about Florida's ability to compete for future jobs.
Th extensive community college system, where I taught for 38 years, meant that 90% of the population was within one hour drive of low-cost college or training in a variety of fields. The development of online courses tied the rural college population to more training opportunities.
Florida has laid the educational foundation with the rapid expansion of
state universities in urban centers like Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando,
and Pensacola. These newer colleges have the population, but find themselves
competing for programs and dollars against Florida's original schools located
in less populated regions. More the
Florida enters the twenty-first century with its old economic roots of tourism and agriculture geared for new challenges, but with a more balanced and diverse economic base.