October 23, 2023
With more than 1,000 miles of beaches, world-class attractions, and regular rocket launches that propel humans into space and expand the frontier of human knowledge, tourism turned Florida from a rural backwater to a national and international economic powerhouse. While tourists advanced Florida into the 20th Century, the state’s emerging tech sector will drive it into the 21st Century, bringing fresh opportunities that promise to boost prosperity for every Floridian and help America maintain its global competitive edge.
Last year alone, technology companies created 22,000 new jobs for workers in the Sunshine State, highlighting the integral role the sector plays in supporting families and growing the economy. This figure is continuing to head upward, with an additional 3.5 % increase in tech employment expected by the end of this year. Nationally, the tech industry contributes nearly two trillion dollars to America’s economy, making up approximately one-tenth of our direct economic value.
Several of America’s biggest tech companies, such as Apple, Meta, and Google, have set up offices in Florida, working hand in glove with innovators and entrepreneurs from Pensacola to Key West to develop an ecosystem that has created new goods and services for consumers and significant contributions to America’s national wealth.
Cutting-edge advancements, such as the recent evolution of artificial intelligence, prove that the digital revolution has only just begun. The growth of these technologies promises to bring in a vast array of job opportunities. The World Economic Forum estimates that the growth of artificial intelligence could create 97 million new jobs. Florida will only get its share of that staggering number if the legislature continues its light-touch regulatory approach that has allowed innovation to flourish.
Just as the creation of the printing press generated societal fears, new technologies are generating anxieties across the country. However, acquiescing to these fears and crafting onerous regulations can hinder innovation, quell healthy competition, and strip communities of promised prosperity. What’s more, harmful regulations pose risks to the stability of our economy and can take jobs directly from hard-working Floridians.
It is essential that we safeguard the free markets that are the hallmark of our nation’s economic success. Enabling innovation and fostering competition delivers unmatched value to consumers.
Furthermore, unnecessary regulations would create a void that China, our fiercest and most eager competitor, will exploit to dominate the tech space and undermine our national security. Imagine our beloved Apple and Android devices being replaced by Huawei, potentially sending sensitive information on every American back to Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party.
In the modern world, technological power translates to geopolitical influence and enhanced military capabilities. To protect America’s geopolitical dominance, lawmakers in Congress and in statehouses across the country must prioritize passing legislation that encourages innovation and strengthens our nation’s national security.
Not only will this ensure sustainable economic progress, but it will also reinforce our competitive edge on the global stage. By nurturing innovation and strengthening our technological infrastructure, we can thwart any attempts by China or other competitors to seize dominance in the rapidly evolving tech landscape. In today’s interconnected and fast-paced environment, safeguarding our national interests necessitates a proactive and strategic approach to legislative action.
As Florida moves into the 2024 legislative session, lawmakers must recognize the invaluable role tech companies and innovators play in driving prosperity, job creation, and our national security. Through fostering a legislative environment that encourages and nurtures our tech industry, we can ensure Florida remains an economic powerhouse and allow the nation to stay ahead in this fiercely competitive landscape.
Edward Longe directs the Center for Technology and Innovation at the James Madison Institute, a free-market think-tank based in Tallahassee, Florida.