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Florida Set to Gain Jobs, But What Kind of Jobs?

By Jeff Kottkamp for Sunshine State News
Posted: July 14, 2011
Last year, Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation projected that Florida would gain 1.1 million jobs by 2017. It was noted that most of the projected job gains would simply be recouping the jobs lost from 2006 to 2009.
While growth in most major employment groups is expected, 50 percent of the projected new jobs are in clerical, food service and sales occupations.
Last month there was evidence that many newly created jobs in the country are low-wage, low-skill jobs. McDonalds decided to add 50,000 employees to its work force nationwide. The company received 1 million applications to fill those positions and ultimately hired 64,000 people. Many of those new jobs were created here in the Sunshine State. Even so, it wasn’t enough to make a significant dent in our unemployment rate.
When you factor in the underemployed and those who have given up looking for work, the real national unemployment rate is closer to 17 percent. As we struggle at both a federal and state level to bring down our unemployment numbers, we should not focus solely on the need to create more jobs -- the focus should be on creating more 21st century high-wage, high-tech jobs.
Of course, action at the federal level to significantly reduce spending and the deficit will go a long way in restoring confidence, not just for consumers but for those with the capital necessary to grow the economy. It would also be extremely helpful if the federal government let banks get back in the business of lending rather than simply shoring up their balance sheets.
Apart from adopting a more prudent fiscal policy in Washington, there are a number of things the state of Florida can do to ensure a robust economic recovery. First, we must embrace a transformation of our state’s economy. Traditionally, Florida has relied on agriculture, tourism and population growth to fuel the economy. It is projected that we will continue to see job declines in agriculture -- and we have learned the hard way that relying on population growth to fuel the economy is an enormous mistake.
With more than 80 million visitors a year, tourism is, and always will be, a large part of our state’s economy. It is one of our strengths -- we should embrace it and build on it. But for the long-term viability of Florida’s economy, we must transform our economy by placing greater emphasis on creating jobs in aerospace, biotech and life sciences, renewable energy, and digital technology.
This transformation can only take place if two things occur. First, we must continue to build on Florida’s reputation as a business-friendly state. The Economic Competitiveness Index released by the American Legislative Exchange Council and economist Arthur Laffer last year firmed up our reputation as “business friendly." According to the index, the five states in America with the brightest economic futures were Utah, Colorado, Texas, South Dakota, and Florida -- in that order. More recently, Chief Executive magazine ranked Florida No. 3 on its list of “Best/Worst States for Business.”
To transform our economy, we must maintain an economic environment that supports private enterprise. However, being a “business friendly” state is not enough to fully embrace such a transformation. When I have met with business leaders from around the world to talk about doing business in Florida, they told me they already know we are a low tax state with great weather, beautiful beaches and an incredible quality of life. In fact, they want to do business here. Their first question was always the same: “If we move our business here -- where will we get the workers?”
Thus, to fully complete the transformation of the economy, we must not only maintain a business-friendly environment, we must create a world-class work force. We can start by lining up the degree silos at our colleges and universities with future work force needs in targeted industries such as aerospace and life science. It means creating incentives for students to become engineers and scientists. And it requires that we view economic development as a continuum that begins with our efforts in early learning, continues in our K-20 system, ending with the work force needs of 21st century employers.
The bottom line is this: We know Florida will gain more than a million jobs in the next five years. The question is, what kind of jobs? To ensure sustained economic growth and future viability, we must not be satisfied with 50 percent of new jobs landing in the clerical, food service and sales occupations -- as is currently projected. Placing a greater emphasis on creating 21st century high-wage jobs will not only strengthen Florida’s economic foundation, it will ensure greater prosperity for generations to come.
This is a guest column by Jeff Kottkamp. He was Florida’s 17th lieutenant governor. He served as chairman of Space Florida from 2007-2011 and led the efforts to grow and expand the aerospace industry in Florida.

The bottom line is this: We know Florida will gain more than a million jobs in the next five years. The question is, what kind of jobs? To ensure sustained economic growth and future viability, we must not be satisfied with 50 percent of new jobs landing in the clerical, food service and sales occupations -- as is currently projected. Placing a greater emphasis on creating 21st century high-wage jobs will not only strengthen Florida’s economic foundation, it will ensure greater prosperity for generations to come.

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As Shuttle Ends, Space Program Needs a New Beginning

Jeff Kottkamp
July 20, 2011
The end is near. The last space shuttle mission soon will be completed. Unfortunately, because of a lack of vision and leadership in Washington, we may be seeing the beginning of the end for our national space program as well.
Last year President Barack Obama came to Florida and announced what he called a “bold new vision” for our nation’s space program. While his proposal (which was revised after his initial proposal received significant push-back) saved some of the jobs that will otherwise be lost when the space shuttle is retired, calling his plans for our space program “bold,” or using the word “vision” to describe the proposal, is a stretch.
An example of a bold and visionary approach to space took place when John F. Kennedy issued the challenge to safely fly a man to the Moon and back. At the time, we did not have the technology to achieve such a lofty goal -- impossible in the minds of some. However, what President Kennedy understood, and President Obama apparently fails to grasp, is that the mission drives technology development in ways that otherwise would never take place.
There are literally thousands of products we now use every day that were developed as part of the space program. Examples include smoke detectors, hand-held vacuum cleaners, microwaves and water filters. Concentrated baby foods, as well as the freeze-dried instant mixes we feed our children were first consumed by astronauts in space.
Studies have shown that for every dollar spent on space development, $7 has been returned to our economy in the form of a new product or service. Perhaps the biggest impact has been in the area of computers. Fifty years ago a single computer filled an entire room. Space travel required much smaller computers -- which led to the development of the microprocessor or computer chip. These chips are now found in personal computers, cars, ovens, clocks, washing machines, DVD players and many other products. The cost of developing the microprocessor has been far outpaced by the return on that investment.
The exploration of space is not just about the national pride of being first “to boldly go where no man has gone before” (to quote Capt. James T. Kirk).  It is about innovation, product development, job creation, and by the way it can also lead to improving the quality of life for all mankind. To be the world leader in space exploration is to be the leader of the innovation economy. Moreover, control of space is directly linked to national defense in ways we never could have imagined just 25 years ago.
In a time when the federal budget is bursting at the seams, and we suffer from an unsustainable and growing national debt, some will argue that we simply can’t afford to explore space. But NASA’s budget is one-half of 1 percent of the total budget in Washington, the proverbial drop in the bucket. The Apollo program that took us to the Moon had a total price tag of just over $25 billion. The shuttle program cost about $200 billion. That is nearly 50 years of space exploration with countless economic and social benefits resulting from those efforts. The issue is not money -- it’s about priorities.
The true cost of President’s Obama’s stimulus package is estimated at over $3 trillion -- as opposed to the “official” total of $814 billion. The stimulus money has resulted in no significant benefit to the economy -- in fact, economic growth and job creation are flat. The fact is, spending money on space exploration is an investment that has a history of paying back significant financial and social benefits.
We can, and must, reduce the federal budget, significantly reduce the national debt and at the same time maintain a thriving and robust space exploration program. In fact, a failure to get our financial house in order will eliminate our ability to fund a space program, or anything else for that matter. We can’t spend our way out of this financial mess. We have to grow the economy and create jobs. Maintaining the world’s premier space exploration program would go a long way in achieving that goal.
Is there a place for the private sector in space exploration? Yes. In fact, Space X has already landed a $1 billion contract from NASA to deliver payloads to the International Space Station. They have had great success in developing their Falcon 9 rocket. But the private sector has its limitations: Try going to a corporate board of directors and telling them that the payoff for an investment in space exploration will come in 25 years. That doesn’t work in the world of profit and loss statements.
The next space exploration mission should be a national effort, one directed by NASA on behalf of the American people. NASA has the experience and expertise. If we fail to maintain our position as the leader in space, there are plenty of countries waiting to replace us, including China and Russia. We cannot let that happen.
Today we need a renewed commitment to our nation’s space exploration program. It is time to give America another challenge, another purpose, a mission with a defined timeline: to Mars by 2020. Americans rise to the occasion every time we are challenged. Now is the time for us to take on the next great challenge in space exploration, not to retreat from our history, our collective accomplishments and our position as the world leader in space. An investment in the space program is an investment in the future of our nation.
This is a guest column by Jeff Kottkamp. He was Florida’s 17th lieutenant governor. He served as chairman of Space Florida from 2007-2011 and led the efforts to grow and expand the aerospace industry in Florida.
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The end is near. The last space shuttle mission soon will be completed. Unfortunately, because of a lack of vision and leadership in Washington, we may be seeing the beginning of the end for our national space program as well.

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If anything, it is both legally and morally wrong for a president to deliberately fail to enforce the law. If you don’t like the Defense of Marriage Act, then pass legislation to repeal it. But don’t ignore the law, Mr. President, just because you don’t like it. After all, this is a republic, not a dictatorship.

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Parker on Politics: Kottkamp would make strong House candidate

Kottkamp, who lost the statewide GOP primary for attorney general last fall, is the only potential candidate who's run in all three counties. He won all those counties by significant margins, albeit against opponents who lacked local name ID. In Lee he won with 67 percent of the vote; in Collier, with 56 percent and Charlotte, 46 percent. In addition to recognition, he has a built-in fundraising network from that last election. If he could keep those voters, the race would be his.

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