Why Florida?

Today’s nytimes suggests that Florida is poised to be the next hotbed of venture capital activity.  The fact that I moved here not long ago is no coincidence.  😉

When people think about high technology in the southeastern United States, people think of Atlanta or research triangle in Raleigh-Durham.  They don’t think of Florida.  But they should.  Here’s why:

Florida is larger in every sense than either Atlanta or Raleigh Durham.  When many people think of Florida exports, they generally think only of citrus fruits. When people think about Florida, they think about beaches, Disney, or retirees, but the truth is that a large part of the state’s economy and nearly a third of all exports from Florida are high-tech products.

Florida’s is the 4th largest state in terms of technology workers as measured by the AEA.  Florida is the third-largest tech exporter in the nation, with a $13.4 billion share of the U.S.’s $214 billion total. In fact, Florida’s technology exports grew by almost $1 billion in 2007.  Florida trailed only California, which led the country with $48.2 billion, and Texas, the nation’s second leading high-tech exporter, with $35.9 billion.

Perhaps most importantly, other than San Francisco and Honolulu, Tampa has the best weather in the United States, IMMHO.  If you’re going to start or invest in a company, why not choose to locate in a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches at which honest-to-god surfing is possible?

Also, we here in Florida enjoy the company of an abundance of actual rocket scientists who launch actual rockets into actual space. Which is kewl.

When I moved to Florida (from San Francisco and NYC) to raise my children around their grandparents and cousins, I did not know what to expect from the emerging companies and technology sector.  I have been very pleasantly surprised.  Those with entrepreneurial spirit are thick on the ground here, and a large ecosystem exists to usher them along toward success.  Just ask the folks at the Tampa Bay office of SRI, yes, the SRI.

So Happy New Year!  In the spirit of renewal occasioned by the season, I’ll just conclude by saying: Come to Florida.  Bring money.  

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