Florida's Not Just for Retirement: LaVigne

We chose to relocate to Florida because of the low cost of housing, the infrastructure, the weather and the overall ease of living. Compared to New England, where I moved from, it seems as though everything is closer and easier here in Florida.

Woman in hammock using laptop
Hans Neleman | Stone | Getty Images
Woman in hammock using laptop

Before making the decision, I observed a steady increase in Florida’s economic diversity. Florida is not just a place for retirees. It is becoming a hot spot for high tech and other business start-ups and expansion.

CNBC's Top States for Businessrankings look at some of the usual factors: cost of living, economy, cost of doing business, etc. What the rankings do not measure, really, is market perception. How is the ‘brand’ of Florida seen by people in and out of the state?

Florida, like most states, has a branding problem. When states fail to declare what they intend to be in a clear and powerful way, they leave their reputation to chance.

For decades, Florida’s reputation grew by virtue of the fact that it is one of the few options for year-round warmth. But it has a looming problem. As Baby Boomers age, their homes will create inventory (supply), which will greatly exceed new retired buyers (demand). There simply aren’t as many Gen Xersas there are Boomers. On top of that, fewer Gen Xers see golf in Florida as the ideal retirement.

This is bad if Florida continues to be seen as a refuge for retirees. But it also will create a great opportunity. Gen X and Gen Y are placing a growing importance on quality of life while at the same time technologyis making our geographic location less and less important.

In the new economy, remote access and quality of life will be king, and for that, Florida is a very unique option. Where else in the country can you find the combination of features that Florida has to offer — climate, ocean, airports, hotels, housing, healthcare and infrastructure?

The rankings can be deceiving because Florida's ranking, No. 29, sounds so far from No. 1, even though the absolute difference among many of the factors is minimal. All of Florida’s ranking factors are worthy of improvement for sure, but the greatest places for focus in my opinion are intention and offer: What does Florida intend to be? And what is its specific offer?

America's Top States For Business
America's Top States For Business

To what specific concern, and to what community, does Florida offer to be a solution?

I would like to see Florida answer these questions better than the other 50 states. I would like to see Florida back it up in all of its communications and actions. And I’d like to see a ranking factor added to get the market’s view of all 50 states’ success in doing all this.

Florida is a dramatically under recognized option for new business creation and expansion. And while Florida can’t change many of the factors in the rankings, it can change perception.


LaVigne is a serial entrepreneur and remarkable performance catalyst. His two decades of CEO leadership experience have focused on technology-enabled services, which have won numerous awards for their innovative approach to leveraging technology to improve service. He is also the founder and Chief Catalyst of The Remarkable Project, an online school dedicated to training new workforce entrants how to differentiate themselves and create powerful personal brands.

CNBCand YPO, Young Presidents’ Organization, have formed an exclusive editorial partnership, consisting of regional “Chief Executive Networks” in the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These “Chief Executives Networks” are made up of a sample of YPO’s unrivaled global network of 19,000 top executives from 110 countries who are on the frontlines of the economy. The opinions of “Chief Executive Network” members are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of YPO as a whole or CNBC.