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Sunshine State News: Higher Education in Florida: A Driving Force Behind Our State Economy

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

By Ed Moore

The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF), along with our strong state university system and system of state and community colleges, contribute immensely to the education of our state’s aspiring scholars and to the growth of our economy.
As an integral component of Florida’s future prosperity, strong educational institutions, coupled with innovative businesses and progressive legislative actions, create opportunities for students to achieve and for professionals to thrive.

When legislators focus on the advancement of industry through increasing accessibility and affordability of higher education, Florida benefits. We also benefit when we are able to blend the higher education assets with our economic development efforts. That was the model of success for the North Carolina research triangle and for the California innovations from Silicon Valley. Partnering higher education with industry and economic development is ultimately the key to a brighter Florida future.

Spending more than $5 billion a year, and providing high-wage employment opportunities for more than 37,000 professionals around the state, the 31 private, nonprofit ICUF institutions have an incredible influence on Florida’s functioning economy. We are but a part of the assets available in higher education that can be an integral part of current and future business operations in our state. The capacity for research alone is limitless.

Our higher education institutions are working to build a better and brighter future for Floridians through educational and professional opportunities. Investing in superior education for Florida’s students is attractive to businesses and corporations looking to expand and/or move to our state. Advancements in education translate directly to higher standards of living, making Florida a more attractive destination for businesses to prosper. Driven students receiving quality higher education become highly skilled professionals who will fuel Florida’s growing workforce, creating lasting positive economic growth and development.

Gov. Scott’s administration has done a wonderful job promoting the passage of legislation that welcomes businesses to Florida through enhancing a trade-friendly tax structure and by reducing regulatory burdens. Laws passed during the 2013 legislative session will increase funding for education and financial aid, and cut taxes for Florida manufacturers.

Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature have given both national and international corporations more good reasons to seriously consider moving their business to the Sunshine State. Continuing to address the needs of business and education will be the driving force behind ensuring future stability and viable economic growth in Florida. Florida has the tax structure, the climate, and the education assets needed for businesses to consider relocating to our great state.

Building upon these recent wins for education and commercial industries will help create an environment that fosters academic success and strengthens business relationships – the two go hand in hand. Florida must continue to focus on higher education to ensure the growth and development in industries of the future, such as aerospace and biological science fields, and other STEM-related industries.

Combined efforts by education stakeholders, business leaders and lawmakers will forge a path toward a better and brighter future for Florida. Let’s make sure today’s students have the opportunity to be tomorrow’s professionals – our job is to provide the best tools for their success.

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