The Last 10 Years

›› As we move into 2010 and say goodbye to a manic-depressive decade that many of us would rather forget, I realize I do feel a bit wiser. The lesson for me? When something goes way up—like dot-coms, real estate or mortgage-backed securities—it is most definitely going to go way down.

But the reverse is just as true. What goes down will eventually come back up. So as we continue to worry when Florida—especially our region—is going to hit bottom in terms of real estate values, foreclosures and unemployment, it might be good to remember that most things in life seek equilibrium or reach for the mathematical mean. Most economists agree: At some point we will begin the climb back up.

The real question for the next decade is by how much and how fast. In Manatee and Sarasota, we may not see a period of rapid expansion for a long time. Our population, even if it begins to grow again next year, will not reach the highs of the past few decades, changing the entire equation our prosperity has been based on. All of this means we should be trying to reinvent ourselves by finding new sources of growth and revenue. There are a lot of ideas out there, including whether to drill offshore.

As you’ll read in Johannes Werner’s “The Drill-Down,” on page 20, compelling arguments exist on both sides of this debate, and I urge businesspeople to weigh the risks and rewards of drilling for oil and gas only a few miles from our beaches.

Locally, we’ve been watching another debate, one over whether to allow the Longboat Key Club to go forward with its $400 million expansion plan. Many people believe the future of Longboat Key is at stake. Rick Barry’s article, “A Key Decision,” page 26, tells you why.

And finally, there’s our wrap-up story of the decade by Kim Cartlidge on page 12. You’ll find a lot to celebrate, and mourn. My wish for all of you is to stay afloat this coming year because the law of nature is in your favor—times will get better. But passively waiting for better days is not a solution. Most experts are saying we have entered a new economic era that requires us to pay attention to new trends and ideas so we can reinvent ourselves. There’s no use whining that everything feels much harder now. As productivity guru David Allen told a business audience here this fall, you might as well complain about gravity.

We’ll be looking for new ways to make Biz941 a resource for you, searching for the smart tips, latest trends and best stories of people and companies who are doing it right. I wish us all much success.

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