By Kathryn Rudloff, Executive Director, Business Voice of Florida’s Space Coast
It might sound hyperbolic to say the 2018 election is critical to the health and wellbeing of our vibrant Space Coast economy. But for those of us who recall just how close we came to becoming yet another industry graveyard just a mere decade ago, you know it is not.
By a 3-to-2 vote in 2016, this county commission signaled it was open for business to high-tech industries and set the trajectory for economic expansion. Being selected to be Embrarer’s U.S. headquarters set off an extraordinary cascading effect of other companies that came to or expanded their presence here on the Space Coast, and it continues to this day. Unemployment is now at 3.4 percent, a record low, and thousands of new jobs have been created.
But it almost didn’t happen. One vote difference on the county commission could have changed all that. You would think the strength and diversity of our now booming economy would open the eyes of local politicians who fought those efforts back then to change their minds.
Today, the commission continues to vote along the narrow 3-2 majority on issues critical to our lagoon, infrastructure and economy. And in the upcoming election, there are two seats on the county commission up for voting, District 2 and District 4, making this a pivotal election for the future of Brevard. That is why local job creators are excited to support Chuck Nelson in District 2 and Curt Smith in District 4 – two proven leaders who are committed to the long-term health and sustainability of our diverse regional economy.
Unlike other Florida regions, where the economy is service-based exclusively, Brevard enjoys a robust industry and manufacturing-based economy, which the service professions support. Combined with the quality schools and stunning Florida weather, Brevard attracts the highest caliber engineering, medical, legal, construction and service job opportunities. For the dual-income family, the diversity of career prospects creates a win/win scenario.
Desirability and affordability are important criteria for a region’s smart growth potential. But one of the most critical factors is the business climate established by state and local policy makers. The economic phenomenon we have seen on the Space Coast as a hub of aerospace activity over the last decade is a direct result of a coordinated plan and a collaborative business and civic environment. With unemployment at record lows and many local employers moving in talent from across the country, Brevard County cannot afford to slam the brakes on the momentum we have worked so hard to build up.
The very tools that have helped spur this tremendous momentum are under attack. Locally, we have candidates running whose limited-government philosophy borders on anti-government and threatens to sour the business climate of the entire region.
If you are a small business owner, talk to your employees about what percentage of your customers or business comes from the larger corporations that have moved to Brevard in the last decade. Articulate for them how the diversified economy has benefited your growth opportunities. And finally, encourage all your employees to register to vote by October 9.
Polling by the non-partisan BIPAC (Business-Industry Political Action Committee) shows that 83 percent of employees found information they received from employers to be helpful in deciding how to vote. Further, their data shows that voters increasingly look to their employers for guidance on political and policy issues, which is no surprise as trust in the media, unions and even the political parties is at record lows. ◆
While you cannot tell your employees how to vote, nor compel them to contribute to a candidate or cause, you can absolutely encourage them to be active participants in the democratic process. We challenge 100 Brevard businesses to remind your employees they can visit votebrevard.com for easy online registration, to update information or to request a mail ballot.