Editorial: Economic diversification ... FGCU’s new partnership typifies what area needs

Timing is crucial.

The fragile state of our state’s economy makes us receptive to diversification rather than stick with the three components that have been so good to us for so long — agriculture, construction and tourism.

Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber, goes so far as to say the traditional model of Florida is “over.”

Nothing like a provocative sound bite to get the conversation going.

His real message was that efforts aimed at science, engineering and global competition are the way to go. They are the sustainable future.

The editorial board of this newspaper agrees. We have been on that track for more than a decade. Now conditions are such that people are ready to listen.

Against that background, consider how well a big local story, reported the same day as Wilson’s remarks, fits in. That story tells of a partnership between a local developer, the Backe Group, and Florida Gulf Coast University to build a research and development park near FGCU and Southwest Florida International Airport with the developer making a $1 million gift to FGCU for an ongoing professor’s position in renewable energy. Part of the duties will be to help recruit additional green industry.

That matches the green of money with the green of environmentally-friendly science and business.

We will be watching and hoping that the construction permits are as readily at hand as FGCU says they are, and this partnership is more in line with FGCU’s environmental stewardship than others made by prior administrations.

FGCU is already on the green map for its 16-acre solar-power field now under construction. This new academic/business package ought to build on that.

Meanwhile, even Ave Maria University appears on the verge of a role in the new economy. AMU President Nick Healy says a biology professor is working closely with a biofuels company; details to come.

Florida fading?

Here’s an example where new lights are already being turned on.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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