May 7, 2019

Florida's pitch for growth: more diversity

Photo: photohoo via iStock

TAMPA — Tens of thousands of new residents — about half of whom arrived from outside the U.S. — flocked to Central Florida last year, making Tampa and Orlando two of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

Why it matters: That influx of new arrivals is propelling Florida's population growth (second only to Texas), as well as changing the political make-up of the most evenly split part of the country's biggest swing state.

Driving the news: Revolution CEO Steve Case's eighth "Rise of the Rest" bus tour swung through Florida and Puerto Rico last week to bring attention to startups and investment in cities outside of traditional tech hubs. Axios tagged along.

  • "To me, the Rise of the Rest has always been about ending the cycle of money flowing to the same kinds of people in the same kinds of places for the same kinds of ideas," said Case. "For investors claiming it difficult to find diverse talent, Florida and Puerto Rico proved to be a geography filled with possibility."
  • Florida, the third-largest state, got 1.3% of U.S. venture capital funding last year, while just three states — California, New York and Massachusetts — attracted more than 75%. Less than 10% of VC funding went to women, and less than 1% to African Americans.

The big picture: The state is harnessing its increasingly diverse population to offset the long-held perception that Florida is a destination only for retirees and vacationers.

  • That's an important pitch for the state. In Tampa alone, deaths outnumbered births by almost 900 people between 2017 and 2018, per CBS Miami's analysis of recent Census Bureau data. That means the city would have shrunk without the migration of newcomers.
  • Re-branding itself as a place where under-represented groups — people of color, immigrants and women — can thrive economically is the key to changing Florida's "God's waiting room" reputation.
  • Nationwide, the rate of entrepreneurs among immigrants is substantially higher than among native-born Americans, according to the Kauffman Foundation. The share of Latino and Asian entrepreneurs has also risen substantially since 1996, while the share of white entrepreneurs declined during that period, per Kauffman.

In Orlando, two-thirds of the new residents came from outside the U.S. between 2017 and 2018. City officials estimate that 1,500 people will move to the city every week over the next decade.

  • In the area's fastest growing county — Osceola — 76% of that growth will come from the Hispanic community, per the city's 2030 projections.
  • The city also became home to tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans after the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
  • The city rallied around its LBGTQ community in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting three years ago. "That was a defining moment for our city," said Jennifer Foster, executive director of OneOrlando Alliance, a nonprofit.

In Miami, more than half of the population was born outside of the city, and some of the startup ecosystem's most important support organizations, venture funds and startups are led by women. The city's tagline: "An ecosystem built by immigrants, led by women."

  • Miami was a finalist for Amazon's HQ2 (Jeff Bezos went to high school there), and it is also a finalist to be an artificial intelligence hub SoftBank wants to create in the Caribbean-Latin America region, per the Miami Herald.

Between the lines: Florida is a perennial battleground state with divisions much like the rest of the country. The fastest-growing metropolitan areas tend to be more liberal and open to outsiders than the large rural areas, where the majority of voters supported Trump in 2016 and helped elect the state's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally.

A large part of Florida relies on lower-wage jobs in hospitality, tourism, agriculture and construction.

  • Out of the 25 most populous U.S. metropolitan regions, Tampa, Miami and Orlando had the lowest median incomes, according to Census Bureau data.
  • Zero income tax is a big draw to the state, but knocks include rising housing prices, inadequate transportation infrastructure and climate change concerns.

Higher-wage tech jobs are on the rise, including on the Space Coast. But many of those jobs aren't coming from startups, but rather from big companies (such as SpaceX, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin) headquartered in other states and opening up satellite operations in Florida.

The bottom line: High-growth startups are typically responsible for generating the most jobs — more so than established companies. Florida's biggest cities see diversity as the key to attracting entrepreneurs and investors to back them, spurring job growth and keeping younger workers in the state.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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