Florida’s Rural Communities Have an Economic Advantage

Economic prospects for rural areas in the Sunshine State may be better than expected in the years ahead. Florida has an advantage many other states do not possess.

The steady increase in new residents here provides a momentum of growth, said Brian Thiede, a rural demographer at Penn State University.

“It is a unique place because of the in-migration of retirees,” Thiede explained. “They move into cities and even some rural areas. That can stimulate economic growth because those people tend to be better off financially and have the resources to demand goods and services.”

Movement by various age groups within Florida from cities to non-metro areas is also a boost for local enterprise.

“Migration can be both a source of opportunity and a source of risk,” Thiede said. “In the case of Florida, the migration dynamics are better.”

In the Midwest and elsewhere, the loss of rural residents – especially younger people – to cities is not eased by an influx of newcomers.

Without positive demographic trends, many rural communities lack the economic dynamism necessary to create jobs and improve incomes. They are typically home to an aging population as well as people with lower educational levels that do not match well with new business development.

Such places are also excessively dependent upon a single business operation or a limited economic sector, making them vulnerable to the fluctuations in larger market conditions.

Many officials and entrepreneurs in Florida view rural communities as attractive places for new business and diversified employment opportunities in the next decade.

For an overview of this perspective, see the article in the July 2018 edition of FloridAgriculture magazine.