Friday, August 14, 2009

Holding out hope for economic unity in Florida

Senior Business Writer
The News-Journal

The future of Volusia and Flagler counties is inextricably bound with that of their neighbors, and area officials are promoting increased collaboration in keeping the jobs that are here and presenting a united effort in recruiting new businesses to the region.

"We are not an island to ourselves," Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno said. "You don't know what may come from the sharing of information."

Bruno, who also serves as chairman of the seven-county Congress of Regional Leaders, said, "You can't do this county by county. It takes a regional approach."

Local, regional or national, an improving job market can't come too soon to the multitudes without jobs.

Unemployed workers in Volusia and Flagler counties who once could turn to the larger markets in Jacksonville or Orlando for jobs no longer enjoy that option. Unemployment numbers in those cities now are comparable to local figures.

Jennifer Wakefield, spokeswoman for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, said there is a natural competition between counties, and many times counties compete head-to-head for businesses seeking to move here from elsewhere.

"But we found we are much more successful when we collaborate," she said.

Mark D. Soskin, an economist at the University of Central Florida, said "circling the wagons" and protecting existing jobs "is an area we've fallen down on" in Central Florida. More here.

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