Infrastructure driving Florida’s economy

Florida’s construction sector is booming. The industry added 40,000 jobs statewide last year and in places like downtown Miami, the cranes in the sky are beginning to outnumber the birds by a wide margin.


But while luxury condos and shopping malls are scoring the headlines, it’s the large-scale infrastructure projects (you know, the ones without a pool, penthouse or pet spa in sight) that are delivering the most economic impact.

With Florida now ranking as the third most populous state in the U.S. and almost 1,500 people moving here each day, the need for expanded and improved roads, airport, hospitals and schools is growing.

Firms like Skanska USA, the state’s largest construction and civil engineering firm, are tapping into this growth with projects like the reconstruction of Interstate-4 in Orlando, the expansion of universities and hospitals across the state, and the development of the new Frost Museum of Science in Miami (the Miami Herald recently profiled the firm’s Florida work).

And judging by the numbers, the need for continued investments in infrastructure will grow over the coming years. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that America’s federal, state and local governments must spend $3.6 trillion through 2020 to fix the nation’s critical systems.

Fortunately, there are ample funding models in place for getting these projects off the ground. One of the most common is the public-private partnership model, known as P3s.

P3s involve public sector entities engaging private sector partners with the goal of filling a funding gap. The Ultimate I-4 project in Orlando is a classic example.

The P3 model can also bring efficiency to a project, according to Al Dotson, Jr., partner with Bilzin Sumberg law firm.

“What was once a three to four year process through public procurement has become an immediate path forward,” wrote Dotson in a recent Miami Herald column.

With the need for infrastructure improvements rising in Florida and the cost of projects having nowhere to go but up, it’s a safe bet that we’re going to be seeing even more P3s over the years. Fortunately Florida has been progressive in embracing this model through legislation of government contracts. Let’s hope the trend continues.