When news first broke of the oil spill, one of my first thoughts after a bout of swearing and cursing at BP was “how is this going to affect real estate prices along the gulf coast?” Then it hit me, real estate prices are a small fraction of what is going to be affected in Florida.
Tourism will be the first to take a hit, and the panhandle is already reporting drops of 30-40% in traffic over Memorial day weekend. I am betting Fourth of July travel will fare even worse along the coast as more oil is reportedly washing up every day. Now many of you may not realize that a large percentage of Florida’s tax dollars come from Tourism. These tax dollars are the same that were already squeezed after the real estate market bubble burst, and the same ones that fund our state universities, services, etc.
So we’re likely to start seeing a trickle down effect as early as this next upcoming quarter as universities get their budgets cut, as the state government cuts back on services, and those dollars that would have then in turn flowed to any number of industries throughout the state will be hurt.
Agricultural production will likely have a big impact as fisheries close, oil gets picked up in the clouds and spread across the state impacting livestock, farming, and more (Tallahasee, florida is already reporting “slick” roads from oily rain).
So is this time for us to rapidly (well as rapidly as possible) shift our state’s economy away from environmentally sensitive (note, everything is ultimately environmentally sensitive) sources of income and invest more heavily in Soft-Tech?