Senator Jeff Brandes today joined Florida business leaders to discuss the impact of Florida’s growing tech industry and how digital tools help small businesses thrive after the pandemic. The virtual event, “How Technology Fuels Florida’s Growth,” was hosted by Jake Ward, president of the Connected Commerce Council, a non-profit organization representing digitally empowered small businesses.
Senator Jeff Brandes – who helped usher Florida into the era of autonomous vehicle technology, investment and infrastructure — discussed the role Florida has nationally as leader in job creation and entrepreneurship, particularly in Florida’s growing tech industry: “Florida’s tech industry creates high-wage jobs and helps boost our state’s economy every day. Investing in and attracting new tech entrepreneurs is key to keeping our eye on the future. Florida remains open for businesses and leaders who want to innovate in our state.”
Florida’s tech industry is growing and is estimated to outpace the national growth this year. An estimated 595,000 Floridians work in technology-related fields representing 6.4 percent of the state’s workforce. But there remains a need for employees to fill high-wage jobs that are quickly becoming available as entrepreneurs move from Silicon Valley to Florida. Reginald Andre, CEO of ARK Solvers and member of the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce Technology Council knows this firsthand: “Entrepreneurs, particularly in areas like central and south Florida, are ready to innovate and have their eyes on the future. Florida leaders should focus on ensuring that there is a career pipeline that allows us to hire talent in our own communities instead of outsourcing for jobs as far as overseas.”
Julio Fuentes, President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, further discussed the needs of small businesses and how digital tools played a critical role for many: “Florida’s small businesses faced a giant uphill battle last year. Thankfully, many turned to digital platforms and resources as a way to meet existing customers and expand new business. Secure, easy-to-use digital tools are a key resource to Florida’s small business community.”
As closures loomed around the state and in-store customer confidence plummeted, 84 percent of Florida’s small businesses pivoted to digital tools like social media and e-commerce sites to safely meet customer demand. 3C research shows 93 percent of small businesses nationwide plan to continue or expand their use of digital tools as the country makes its way to a new normal.
George and Gina McGuire, co-owners of Glass Crafters Stained Glass in Sarasota, know the impact digital tools and resources can have on small business owners: “As a retail store and glass workshop, much of our job revolves around in person experiences. When the pandemic hit, we took the local ordinances seriously and limited our in-person meetings as much as we could. Fortunately, we were able to use Facebook to share our new glass pieces, talk about the creating process and connect with our customers to meet their needs via social media. These digital tools made an incredible difference, and they’re part of the reason our business has remained steady and continues to grow.”
Click here to view a recording of the event.
The Connected Commerce Council is a non-profit membership organization with a single goal: to promote small businesses’ access to digital technologies and tools. 3C provides small businesses with access to the market’s most effective digital tools available, provides coaching to optimize growth and efficiency, and cultivates a policy environment that considers and respects the interests of today’s small businesses.