ARBOR WEALTH: Welcoming neighbors to the Feast of Flowers

Published: Thursday, August 1, 2013 at 04:37 PM.

Each year, Orlando is moving to Florida.

Let’s quickly clarify. A recent story on National Public Radio states that 250,000 new residents, or a number the size of the population of the city of Orlando , are moving to Florida annually. For comparison, imagine the state of Wisconsin absorbing annually into its economy as many new residents as currently reside in its capital of Madison.

The U.S. Census Bureau ranked Orlando (238,300) as Florida’s fifth largest city in 2010. The latest official census does not include newer residents. So the population within Orlando’s city limits is actually closer now to 250,000. And obviously, there is a much greater population in the Orlando metroplex than resides within its city limits. 

The report also states that the vast majority of new arrivals will consist of Baby Boomers and retirees. In some cases these two groups are synonymous; in others, not. Either way, newcomers will add wear and tear to state-maintained highways, avail themselves of public education opportunities, and stress our state services in a variety of fashions. Municipalities will require larger police, fire and public safety forces to accommodate this growth.  

In South Walton, we are no stranger to this type of growth and the challenges to local infrastructure and services that accompany it. The recent surge in development and traffic along Highway 30A is a classic example.

What’s the big deal? According to Danielle Kurtzleben of U.S. News & World Report, Florida was tied for ninth with Oregon in 2012 for the largest budget shortfall among U.S. states.

Florida is a regional economic prototype of the financial challenges that face the U.S. as our population ages. In a nutshell, this means more retirees that contribute less significantly to GDP, but who rely on government programs and services. 

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