Andrew Duffell, president, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University

Last week: Governor Scott is asking Florida businesses the best way to return taxes to residents and fuel further economic growth. Eliminate the sales tax on commercial leases. Invest in the reform of the homeowner’s insurance market. Target and eliminate Medicaid fraud. Continue reforming automobile insurance and support Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Atwater’s efforts to hold insurers accountable.

Looking ahead: Recent reports tell us we are not creating enough jobs to build strength into the economic recovery, and those jobs that are created are not in the technology field. Focus on investing in meaningful education reforms, retraining efforts for under-employed people and supporting business infrastructure.

Sept. 8

Last week: This week I attended the City of Deerfield Beach’s first budget hearing, and I encourage all South Florida residents – renters and property owners – to attend their respective city and county meetings. Doing so is the only way to make our governments of the people, for the people. Local governments control most of your local property tax bills, and impact the way you live your life and run your business. Attend and make sure our elected representatives are making South Florida the best possible destination for people, families and businesses which will transform our economy.

Looking ahead: The unfolding events at Fukushima, Japan, mystify me. There are unfortunately several other communities that have suffered catastrophic damage to nuclear reactors – Three Mile Island and Chernobyl to name but two – surely these and the IAEA, the US and the French authorities could advise the Japanese on how to remediate. At bare minimum the Japanese government should take charge: this is no longer a local emergency but a national disaster and international threat that will impact travel, energy production, food stocks and several other industries immeasurably.

Sept. 1

Last week: A little talk about movement is taking shape: we are slowly realizing that we live in a region and not just cities or a county. Our 3 county leaders now meet on issues of mutual interest; the Urban Land Institute has been working to develop a framework to address our regional challenges; and with issues like the pollution of the Indian River Lagoon from outflows from Lake Okeechobee, individuals are recognizing the need for regional solutions. I am 100 percent in favor of regional approaches, and I encourage others to get involved.

Looking ahead: Come October the political elite will again be blaming each other for the huge deficits we currently run, and dodge serious discussion of how to fix them. The National Association for Business Economics found that 43 percent of its surveyed members are more concerned with the long-term deficit, stretching into the 2020s and 2030s, than they are about the problems in the next 10 years. Many economists state that we need both spending restraint as well as increased revenue in order to cure our budget shortfalls.

Aug. 25

Last week: Water use, water quality and stewardship of our unique natural environment really need to be better understood by the general public.  Sen. Joe Negron is leading legislative investigations, which is good, and Florida Atlantic Unversisty has deep insight to the causes and solutions that should be heard and promoted.

Next week: Ethics in business, ethics in public policy. We need to train people to be in positions of authority, making sure everyone knows the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. Clear repercussions should be spelled out for transgressors.

Aug. 18

Last week: Our children are going back to school soon, and parents are faced with the challenges of keeping their loved ones safe on the way to school, at school, on the way home and at evening activities. They have to wrestle with the question of who to trust with the care of their most cherished ones. Recent news highlights the fact that it is almost impossible to figure out which grown-ups their children can be around safely. We need to look at our society closely to fix it because our hearts will continue to be broken if we do not.

Looking ahead: Regional mayors getting arrested, local ethics ordinances being challenged and fought over, Congress’ trust level at an all-time low, and a former member of Congress being sentenced prison time: it is high time we fundamentally examine what we expect of those we entrust with making policy for our government.

Aug. 11

Last week: The Army Corps of Engineers' renewed consideration of the widening and deepening of Port Everglades is encouraging and the progress on the PortMiami tunnel is impressive as well. We have good physical trade infrastructure, we have the Network Access Point (NAP) of the Americas for internet connectivity, and are developing better rail infrastructure. This is promising and we mustn't let up because preparing and improving our infrastructure is vitally important to our economic competitiveness.

Looking ahead: The recently heightened terror alerts overseas should serve as a wake up call to us in the homeland. We need to be sure our infrastructure — airports, sea ports, electricity plants, rail facilities and internet fiber — is secure and protected. South Florida has some of the most trafficked and used infrastructure — like MIA, the Network Access Point (NAP) and Port Everglades — in the U.S. and it is worryingly vulnerable.

Aug. 4

Last week: Continued turmoil in the Middle East reminds markets that the Suez Canal is a vital international shipping route.  If Israel and Turkey could repair their relationship a unique role could be played by these two democracies in a region of uncertainty.  The Turkish market is large, well-educated, dynamic and young.  The Israeli tendency for creativity and entrepreneurship is well known and too; it too is democratic and inclusive of minorities.  If the two led their region into peace and exported their ideals the Middle East could be forever, positively transformed into a massive market of bright, young, democratic and creative consumers and drivers of innovation

Looking ahead: China's economy is the world's 2nd largest, and with sustained growth above 5% - it is forecast to hit  2013's 7.5% target – the compounding of that growth means that the US will be overtaken within a generation as the largest economy on Earth.  Increased invention, creativity and innovation are imperative in order for the US not to find itself in a world much more difficult to influence and perhaps even for us to recognize with today’s perspective.  A focused Union-wide effort, not unlike the space race, can modernize infrastructure and enable entrepreneurs to flourish, powering us into the 21st century as leaders.