For South Florida’s economy, 2012 centered on one main question: Would the recovery continue?
The answer: Yes, and slowly.
Housing values continue to climb, unemployment rates shrink, hiring grows and spending strengthens. And yet 2012 ends on the same general theme as 2011: Things are getting better, but at a slow enough pace that South Florida will have to wait at least another year for a healthy recovery to begin.
Behind the broad economic tide, news crashed onto the scene. And now it falls on Business Monday to rank their significance.
We do this each year December as a way to put the year’s business news in perspective. For the rankings, we use three criteria.
First, how important was the news for South Florida’s economy? We only have 10 slots to fill, so the news needs to be big.
Second, how unique was the news to South Florida? National events can have major impacts in South Florida, but we’re looking for news that’s particularly noteworthy to the region.
Third, how unique was the news to this year? Long-term trends can impact an economy for years, but we’re looking for stories clearly linked to 2012.
On to the rankings...
10: One Community One Goal plan released
Miami-Dade’s economic development agency, the Beacon Council, spent more than a year drawing up what’s supposed to be a blueprint for the county’s economic future. We won’t know for years whether the One Community One Goal plan will actually guide leaders’ decisions as they decide on education priorities and corporate-recruitment targets. The authors of this report boasted that they were determined not to have the latest version seen as obsolete the way the 1996 version was. But with hundreds of people involved in the forums that led to the report, One Community One Goal is sure to be cited in debates and discussion about Miami-Dade’s economy for years to come.
9. Ryder gets a new CEO
It was a tumultuous year for the Miami-Dade trucking giant, which spent the summer backing off early predictions of strong recovery for clients. In July, Ryder CEO Gregory Swienton announced companywide cost cuts to combat flat sales in a year he had originally seen as going well. That move included 60 job cuts at Ryder’s headquarters in western Miami-Dade, out of 450 across the country The end of 2012 brought another big announcement: Swienton was retiring in two weeks, and handing over the top job to his longtime deputy, Ryder COO Robert Sanchez.
Swienton, 63, said he was looking forward to getting back to Texas, where most of his grandchildren live. The board praised Swienton’s 13-year tenure, which saw Ryder stock rise from $17 a share to $50 a share.
Sanchez, 47, is only the company’s fifth CEO since its founding in the Great Depression. A Miami native, he becomes one of only three CEOs of a Fortune 500 company headquartered south of Palm Beach County. The other: AutoNation’s Mike Jackson and World Fuel Services’ Michael Kasbar.
8. Miami Marlins Buyers Remorse
The debut season of Miami’s first official Major League Baseball team brought a string of disappointments on and off the field. Promises of a revitalized Little Havana retail scene around the tax-funded stadium instead brought vacant storefronts. Attendance, a big part of the economic argument for the $635 million stadium, ended up being the worst for a new ballpark in 30 years.