US: Green industry contributes more than $20B to Florida economy

Florida’s environmental horticulture industry is recovering from the recession of 2007 to 2009, and it is growing in many sectors, with $21.8 billion in annual economic contributions. This is an increase of 19.2 percent from 2000, a new University of Florida report shows.

The environmental horticulture industry, or the “green industry,” includes landscaping, nurseries, greenhouses, wholesale and retail distributors and allied manufacturing, said Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. Those “allied” industries include firms that produce fertilizers, chemicals, mulches and other products people use in their landscapes and nurseries, Hodges said.

“The green industry has rebounded from the recession very well due to growing incomes and consumer demand for plants in other states. Additionally, housing and commercial development in Florida is on the uptick again,” he said.

Hodges led the group of researchers who produced the annual report on the economic impact of environmental horticulture in Florida.

That UF/IFAS report presents information from a survey of the industry for 2015, and extends findings from previous studies for 2000, 2005 and 2010. To gather the data, UF/IFAS economists surveyed 1,546 Florida businesses.

In addition to overall economic contributions, UF/IFAS economists estimated the industry employs 232,648 full- and part-time workers. Direct employment in the nursery and landscaping industries increased 13.5 percent since 2000, though it declined by 17.2 percent from 2010 to 2015 due to the overall economic trend in workforce reduction.

Economic contributions include “multiplier effects,” such as indirect employment, wages, food, utilities and more that researchers count as part of the ornamental horticulture’s overall impact on Florida’s economy. For instance, when nursery workers get paid, they spend their money on groceries and other necessities. Researchers include those expenses in the economic contributions, Hodges said.

As for specific sectors, economic contributions in landscaping went up by 49 percent, and wholesale and retail distribution increased by 209 percent — though nurseries went down by 49 percent, according to the report.

Survey respondents reported sales of $1.2 billion in 2015, while UF/IFAS researchers estimated total industry sales at $10.7 billion by extrapolating the average sales reported by survey respondents to reflect the population of all businesses.

Respondents reported spending nearly $50 million in investments in 2015, while they expect to invest nearly $90 million from 2016 to 2018.

“The green industry is making big investments in nursery buildings, equipment and information technology to become more productive and remain competitive in the global market,” Hodges said.

Source: University of Florida (Brad Buck)

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