January 08, 2019

Planning for smarter growth

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

2019-01-05 | THE BANNER

Guest Columnist – Syd Kitson

With the world’s 17th-largest economy, Florida is already woven into the global marketplace like never before. Not only do we welcome more than 116 million visitors each year, but Florida currently accounts for approximately 25 to 30 percent of U.S. exports to many emerging Latin American countries. And we’re continuing to solidify and strengthen our place in the global marketplace.

Yet as Florida continues to grow and diversify, we must take a look at the resources needed for Florida to grow smarter.

Three million more new drivers on our roads by 2030 means a need to ensure our hard infrastructure is ready and able to accommodate the traffic. Nearly 5 million net new residents by 2030 means a need for reliable and efficient resources like water and energy. New and diversifying job opportunities between now and 2030, many in industries that don’t exist today, will require Floridians to be connected at every turn.

Leading the charge to prepare our state for its future is the Florida Chamber Foundation . The foundation recently released its comprehensive ” Florida 2030 Key Targets & Strategies” report, which outlines where Florida needs to be in 2030 and how leaders across the state can work together to prepare for future success. Part of those targets includes ensuring Florida is preparing its infrastructure of smart growth and development.

We are on the cusp of extraordinary advances that will affect our daily lives in a positive way. We’re already seeing the beginnings of many right now.

Just one example that I’m particularly proud of is in Southwest Florida , where we’re demonstrating just how innovative and advanced our communities can really be. Babcock Ranch is a pioneering community that sets a whole new standard for sustainable, responsible growth. It is America’s first solar-powered town and embraces a forward-thinking approach, one that integrates high-speed fiber-optic connectivity to every home and free WiFi everywhere else – while also incorporating ample green spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy.

We are even exploring what future transportation options might look like. For instance, Babcock Ranch is testing a pilot project transporting residents in fully autonomous shuttles.

Recently, the Florida Chamber Foundation hosted a conversation on preparing for smarter growth and the impact innovation has at its annual Growth & Infrastructure Summit. Leaders from around the state and nation joined the conversation. One common thread? 2030 is closer than we think and to succeed, we must work together and plan for the future.

Learn more about Florida 2030 at .

Kitson is chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners , a Florida -based real estate company specializing in the creation and development of master-planned communities and commercial properties. He also serves as the immediate past chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce .