Grasping the Potential of Regional Thinking
We’ve always known intuitively that working regionally was a good idea. It’s a documented principle that regional economies are, in fact, the drivers of national prosperity. The top 100 largest U.S. metro regions generate 75 percent of the nation’s GDP. The U.S. economy’s performance is driven largely by that of its major metropolitan economies.
During the last 24 months, the work of the Central Florida Partnership and its commitment to regionalism has been referenced in leading publications like The Journal of the James Madison Institute, Chamber Executive, published by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, and the Florida Engineering Society (FES) Journal.
Citing our successes and referencing our uncommon quest for collaboration and cooperation, these ‘kudos’ reinforce our zeal and confirm our belief that regionalism is the right track to follow. Our leadership in Central Florida in advancing commuter rail, high speed rail, Connecting for Global Competitiveness -Florida’s Super Region (Tampa to Orlando), Modeling, Simulation & Training, Aerospace Research & Development, and more has positioned the Central Florida Partnership on the cutting edge of regional thinking and action – Moving Ideas to Results.
The Innovative Is Now the Norm
As ACCE President Mick Fleming put it, “When the rest of the country was thinking that public-private regional stewardship was a scary, theoretical idea to explore in the future, (Central Florida) was making it a reality. Now, the idea of building and using public-private regional strategies to solve big problems is more or less taken for granted.”
2009 data from the U. S. Conference of Mayors showed the Central Florida Region has the 18th largest gross domestic product in the United States, with the Tampa Bay Region ranking 20th. Combined, the 13-county “Super Region” has the 10th largest economy in the United States with the potential to be a major global economic competitor. Many forecasts, in fact, suggest that by the year 2050, Tampa Bay and Central Florida will become a single economic region and Florida’s dominant economic driver.
In 2012, Economic Modeling Specialists Int’l., (EMSI), in partnership with Fairfield Index, Inc., reported that a new measurement, GRP, or Gross Regional Product, is “conceptually equivalent to gross domestic product (GDP). While both measure newly created value through production, GDP concentrates on resident production units, while GRP measures by regional production units in the regional economy (a state, province or a district).”
Seeing the Whole
The Central Florida Partnership covers seven counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia. The Gross Regional Product (GRP) for the Central Florida Region is $131.9 billion with $115.3 billion in exports. Comparative figures for Tampa Bay total $151.5 billion, with $117.2 billion in exports. When combined for the “Super Region,” the figures total a GRP of $268 billion with
$196.8 billion in exports.
Why is this important? Because the GRP figures in the “Super Region” now put us ahead of the Miami MSA ($236.7B), Atlanta MSA ($255.6B) and San Diego MSA ($155.0B); Central Florida has a new outlook. For purposes of this comparison, Florida’s “Super Region” falls behind only the Chicago MSA ($496.1B), Houston MSA ($360.9B), Dallas MSA ($353.7B) and New York MSA ($1.2T) in the regions studied.
Regionalism essentially puts the “Super Region” on the map in a way that we have not been competitive previously, far outreaching what some may consider our traditional competitors: Austin, Jacksonville, Charlotte and Salt Lake City.
Developing Regional Priorities
Leaders in the “Super Region” recognize that current growth patterns are unsustainable, and there have been substantial public involvement processes in both the Tampa Bay and Central Florida region to reach consensus about managing future development.
With historic world-renowned icons throughout Florida’s midsection like NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Daytona International Speedway, the seaports at Tampa and Cape Canaveral, visitor attractions, and professional sports franchises in Tampa Bay and Central Florida bringing visitors, conventioneers and new residents to the “Super Region,” it is more important than ever that we work together collaboratively with specific strategic regional priorities
The Central Florida Partnership has just undertaken an initiative geared at “Turning the Page.” Securing input from its volunteer leadership team, business and community leaders through a series of workshops and brainstorming sessions, it will identify a new set of regional priorities that will guide its work in the months and years ahead.
Based on our recent history of success in advancing the region’s priorities, the future looks bright for building our competitive advantage.
Jacob V. Stuart is president of the Central Florida Partnership