Florida’s Time to Shine

Jan 13, 2020, 16:16 PM by Sarah Matz, Senior Director, State Government Affairs

Lawmakers Can Ensure Tech’s Opportunities Stay In-State

This week the Florida legislature convenes for the start of its 60-day session, and lawmakers will be faced with several important issues – expanding job growth, supporting emerging skills training, ensuring consumer data protection and other key technology issues should be a priority.

There is a need for an educated, tech-ready workforce nationwide and Florida is one of the new tech hubs popping up across the country changing the traditional narrative that to be in tech you have to be in Silicon Valley.

Released last month, the second installment of the CompTIA Tech Town Index provides IT workers, as well as professionals working in the business of technology, guidance on where opportunity intersects with affordability and quality of life. The research shows that 78% of IT pros have moved, considered or would consider leaving their current city for a new position particularly if it’s to an area with a lower cost of living, desirable climate and shorter commute times.

While it may come as a surprise for some, the sunshine state is ripe for tech workers seeking to write their own stories. Making the list this year was Jacksonville at number 18, follow by up-and-coming Tampa, FL at number 19. These two Florida cities are on the move and transitioning their local economies to one built on technology. Tampa alone has more than 150 tech startups in the area and is on path to achieve 6 percent job growth over the next five years.

Both Jacksonville and Tampa have prioritized supporting and attracting visionaries, innovators and entrepreneurs with new and creative ideas to the state, proving to now be strict competition among other mid-size municipalities.

Florida’s tech-friendly policies also rank it fourth in the country for IT and tech job growth, according to CompTIA’s Cyberstates, but even more can be done across the state to ensure Florida continues to be a champion for innovation.

Advancements in cloud computing, unified communications systems and the expanding Internet of Things ecosystem, provide new avenues for economic advancement and high-paying jobs in Florida such as network architects, software developers and systems and cybersecurity analysts.

It’s important for Florida’s future workforce and economic growth that lawmakers recognize that supporting emerging skills training and tech-based education opportunities should be a priority at the state and local level. Initiatives that encourage minorities, veterans, women and other underrepresented communities to pursue career paths in IT and tech are critical to ensuring a pipeline of skilled workers needed to fill the states rising number of available IT and tech jobs.

As the rapid pace by which new and emerging technologies are coming to market, the legislature can also work to enact smart policies that establish the proper investment, regulatory and legal environment for these innovations to be developed and adopted. Supporting public-private partnerships at the state and local level will accelerate adoption as well as working to remove regulatory barriers to help encourage private investment.

While innovation can sometimes bring new challenges, ensuring common sense data and cybersecurity policies that secure our networks and promote responsible use of consumer information is a focal issue as new technologies are made available. Technology-neutral laws safeguarding the use, security and protection of consumer information will allow technology to continue to expand and improve. As well as setting appropriate standards and sensible criteria for data breach notifications and resolutions to be carried out with efficiency.

As the tech industry’s stakeholders from across Florida descend upon Tallahassee this week to begin the 2020 session and work alongside lawmakers to identify and support thoughtful technology policies, one thing is certain. By working together industry and government can ensure an environment where innovation and the Florida job market continue to flourish, and that the opportunities and benefits made possible by technology are available to all Floridians.

Sarah Matz is the senior director of state government affairs for CompTIA.