From the Editor

What Do Local Experts Predict for Our Region in 2020—and Beyond?

We’re ringing in a whole new decade, and we’re wondering what lies ahead.

By Susan Burns January 1, 2020 Published in the January 2020 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Susan Burns

Image: Lori Sax

We’re ringing in a whole new decade, and we’re wondering what lies ahead. I asked some experts with long-range vision what they see coming in 2020 and beyond.

Don Grimes 

Sarasota resident, economist and senior research specialist at the University of Michigan

“We will avoid a recession next year, but my crystal ball gets hazier when I look beyond 2020. We have a growing GDP, a booming stock market, increasing wages for all workers, low inflation, and a low and declining unemployment rate—that is as good as it gets from a macroeconomic perspective. We have never faced labor shortages for an extended period, but this is going to be a real challenge. Making sure that all actual and potential workers reach their full potential needs to be a major focus of policy makers.”

Jon Thaxton

Senior vice president for community investment, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

“Housing is the community’s most pervasive issue. We need a sea change in attitude and a laser focus on policy decisions that affect the divide between supply and demand for affordable housing. Churches and nonprofits used to advocate for housing, but now it’s businesses and chambers of commerce. It’s become a clear and present threat to our economic viability.”

Bob Bunting

CEO, Climate Adaptation & Mitigation Center (CAC)

“Advances in understanding weather and climate are improving forecasts and will allow decision makers to plan and limit the negative impacts from weather events and a warming climate—if they choose to do so. My biggest worry is about how to engage society to plan for and react to weather and climate events like stronger hurricanes, rising sea levels and harmful algae blooms due to a warming climate.”   

Susie Bowie

Executive director, Manatee Community Foundation

“We’re seeing a new commitment to integrating inclusion, equity and access into philanthropy—ensuring that people who benefit from charitable giving have a voice in how dollars are spent. It’s changing the power structure and it’s starting to happen. GoFundMe campaigns and other types of democratized fund-raising efforts are opportunities, but we [also] need strong nonprofits led by professionals who understand the programs needed to help people move forward.”

Shelli Freeland Eddie

Vice mayor and Sarasota City Commissioner

“When a thousand people a day move into the state and a lot of them come here, we’re going to have growing pains. Traffic is bad and it will continue to be bad for a while. Attainable housing is my No. 1 priority. A one-bedroom in the city is $1,400 a month. When families can’t spend time with kids because they’re spending half an hour or more to get to work, it takes a toll. Our workers can’t live in the city and some can’t even live in the county. It makes it more difficult for us to recruit employers who pay higher wages. We can’t live on tourist income alone.”

Karen A. Holbrook

Regional chancellor, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee

“Education begins in preschools and extends throughout life as jobs and careers evolve and demand new knowledge. The various stages of education can vary with the individual. Higher education is only one step in this process. K-12 schools are beginning to recognize and adapt to the changes in technology that will be invading every career. Students will be coming to our colleges and universities with these new skills and will expect higher education to be prepared for them. My worry is how fast can we be ready for them?” 

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