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The Economic Club of Florida podcast

By: Economic Club of Florida
  • Summary

  • Since 1977, The Economic Club of Florida has become one of the South’s most important forums for distinguished speakers on major issues of the day. The Club provides a platform for discussion to educate, engage, and empower citizens on important economic, political, and social issues. Major topics include the economy, business, investment, politics, public policy, government, education, entrepreneurship, healthcare, defense, space, and sports. New podcast episodes are published monthly. To learn more, including how to become a member, visit www.Economic-Club.com 

    Copyright 2022 Economic Club of Florida
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Episodes
  • Nov 17 2022
    “Building a Clean and Resilient Energy Future”Southern Company Executive Vice President Stan Connally discusses the rapid transformation taking place in the energy industry and the challenges it poses for producers and consumers before an October 26, 2022 meeting of The Economic Club of Florida.Show Notes  (for complete Show Notes, please visit https://economic-club.com/podcasts-and-summaries/)Stan Connally is Executive Vice President of operations at Southern Company, one of the largest producers of energy in the United States.  He also serves as Chairman, President and CEO of Southern Company Services.  Recognizing that “most people don’t think of us until the bill arrives or the lights go out,” Connally addressed upfront the current rise in consumers’ electric bills, pointing to the higher costs of inputs.  “There's some dynamics around natural gas prices and other commodities related to supply chain that are really leading to a lot of those pressures on prices and we're all working incredibly hard to try to manage that.  I'd like to give you some hope there.  But as long as we have this conflict in Europe going on, I think there's going to be some challenges to the supply chain fixing itself for some time,” he told Club members.Meanwhile, he said, the focus remains on “building the future of energy and making it cleaner and more resilient.”  Climate change has prompted policies to reduce carbon emissions at power plants.  “Decarbonizing our electric generation business, frankly, has proved economic for our consumers,” Connally said.  The Southern Company has transitioned its fleet and retired or converted 80% of its generating units in the past 15 years.  Carbon emissions were reduced nearly 50% with a goal to get to net zero emissions by 2050.  “Getting that last 10% to 20% is going to be the hard part.  That's where the new technologies have to evolve.”  To get there, Southern is deploying more solar and storage technologies and is about to put online the first new nuclear units in a generation in Georgia.“Electrification” is another way to build the future of energy, with electric vehicles leading the way.  “Not since the invention of the air conditioner have we seen such a potential impact to the electric loads of our utilities as we do now with the growth of electric vehicles,” Connally said.  To handle the projected 19 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, he said that many more smaller generating installations will evolve from the traditional big central power stations that he ran earlier in his career.  “It’s going to be far more distributed and that brings permitting and land use challenges that we’ll need to navigate.  We as a country need to get more efficient at our permitting system, the United States at the federal level needs a lot of work,” he said.Connally, a 34 year veteran of the industry, said the energy business “has gotten some recent wins” from Washington DC to help transition to that future.  He said the recent federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allow utilities and communities across the country to make greater investments in transmission and distribution networks, electric vehicle infrastructure, and provide more energy efficiency grants.  He likewise applauded the federal Inflation Reduction Act which extended tax credits on renewable energy sources, nuclear energy development, and energy storage.  “Politically, energy should not be a partisan issue.  Unfortunately, there's way too much partisanship going on related to energy.  Because at the end of the day, it is not a commodity, it is a necessity,” he told Club members.The Southern Company’s operating companies provide electricity to 4.4 million customers in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi and natural gas service to 4.3 million customers in Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Illinois.  It also provides wholesale solar, wind, natural gas, and clean energy alternatives in 14 states across the country.  Southern also operates a distributed energy infrastructure company, a fiber optics network, and telecommunications services.Connally also talked with the Club about resiliency, cybersecurity challenges, training young talent, and “the need to connect to the customer and what they need most.”Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episodewww.southerncompany.comStan Connally Biography    The Economic Club of Florida podcast, provides an extended platform for discussion to educate, engage, and empower citizens on important economic, political, and social issues.  Based in Tallahassee, Florida, the Club has featured distinguished speakers on engaging topics of national importance since 1977.  To learn more, including how to become a member, visit www.Economic-Club.com  or call 850-224-0711 or email mail@economic-club.com.  Date of recording 10/26/2022.  © Copyright 2022 The Economic Club of Florida, All Rights ...
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    52 mins
  • Sep 23 2022

    “A Gadsden County native’s path to success as an American technology entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist” Figgers Communication CEO Freddie Figgers shares how a $23 Goodwill purchase led to his multi-million dollar career as an entrepreneur and the importance of finding your passion in life before an August 25, 2022 meeting of The Economic Club of Florida.


    Show Notes


    Abandoned at two days old in a trash can and adopted by an older couple who raised him as their son, Freddie Figgers’ story as a technology entrepreneur began at nine years old, when his father bought him a broken computer at a Goodwill store that he restored to life with borrowed parts from other electronics around the house.  It was the start of his career as an inventor, software developer, and now at age 32, the CEO of Figgers Communication, the nation’s only minority-owned telecommunications company.  The company provides cellular and broadband services in rural areas and manufactures consumer electronics, including cellphones, from a manufacturing facility in Doral, Florida. 


    “I meet so many people across the country that don’t like their job.  They get up every morning and they go to work.  You have to find what you’re in love with in order to excel in it,” he told the Club in a fireside chat format with Club Vice President Marion Hoffmann, Vice President of Business Solutions for Indelible Solutions.  “Technology was my passion - innovating, creating something new, and helping others.  And every product that we’ve built to date has made an impact on people’s lives.”


    That “passion with a purpose,” as Figgers calls it, began at age 15, when he quit school because of bullying and to take care of his father, who had developed dementia and would leave the house and wander around town.  It was the necessity of his dad’s illness that became the mother of his first invention: A GPS tracker embedded with a two-way communicator in the sole of his dad’s shoe, allowing him to talk to and find his dad when he became lost.  It became the precursor to today’s Life Alert ® product.  Figgers sold the rights to the tracker for $2.2 million in January 2014, receiving the check on the same day as his father passed away.  It was the first of several medical informatics inventions and programs he has developed under his other company, Figg Health.


    “The best thing my father ever taught me was staying grounded.  Never forget who you are.  Don't forget where you come from, and always pay it forward.  If you can help somebody else you do it without hesitating,” Figgers said.  More than 20% of his company profits are invested in philanthropy, including The Figgers Foundation that helps disadvantaged children and families and provides grants for education and healthcare projects.  


    Figgers discussed current supply chain issues and his company’s work overseas, including helping Kenya expand its 5G cellular network through Safaricom.  He said he’s also working on a pending business deal with Meta in the augmented reality space.  For now, he said he has no interest in taking his company public, despite many offers.  Among his employees are some of the bullies that used to bother him in school.  Freddie Figgers represents the Florida-born talent who are developing businesses and creating jobs and his story is truly inspirational.


    Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


    Freddie Figgers Biography 


    Figgers Communication


    Figg Health


    The Figgers Foundation 


    The Economic Club of Florida podcast, provides an extended platform for discussion to educate, engage, and empower citizens on important economic, political, and social issues.  Based in Tallahassee, Florida, the Club has featured distinguished speakers on engaging topics of national importance since 1977.  To learn more, including how to become a member, visit www.Economic-Club.com  or call 850-224-0711 or email mail@economic-club.com.  Date of recording 8/25/2022.  © Copyright 2022 The Economic Club of Florida, All Rights Reserved

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    34 mins
  • Aug 10 2022

    “Is Florida Heading for a Recession?” Florida State University Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish shares the probability and how rising interest rates, housing costs, and gas prices affect consumers before a July 19, 2022 meeting of The Economic Club of Florida.


    Show Notes


    Dr. Jerry Parrish is the Chief Economist and Director of State and Local Policy Analysis at the Institute of Government at Florida State University.  He said Florida has two different economies: one with almost full employment with more than 600,000 open jobs, and the other with persistently low consumer sentiment.


    “Consumer sentiment is lower than what it was during the worst of the pandemic and you know, that's really unusual, with almost full employment,” he told the Club.  “I watch that because it’s really an indicator of how people are going to spend their money.  And you've heard all over the place that about 70% of the economy is people out there spending money, so if they have a poor outlook, that's certainly a concern in the future.  What’s driving it is inflation.”  


    Dr. Parrish said Florida weathered the coronavirus pandemic’s economic upheaval better than most states, recovering all its jobs by October of 2021.  The exception is in healthcare and especially registered nurses.  Thirty-five other states still don’t have their jobs back.  Other economic factors he noted at play: 

    • Since the pandemic, U.S. wages have increased 7.9% for people who’ve switched jobs and 6.1% for those who’ve stayed put, but inflation now is exceeding those earnings gains;
    • A survey shows 25% of Americans are delaying retirement due to inflation;
    • Falling mortgage demand because of rising interest rates and plunging homebuilder sentiment;
    • As interest rates go up, the dollar gets stronger and has now reached parity with the Euro.  “That means that guy in Chicago who wanted to take his family on vacation my skip Florida this year and go to London,” or other European destinations.
    • A strong dollar favors those in the U.S. who import items, but for those exporters, “you may not be competitive anymore.”

    “People at lower incomes take the biggest brunt of inflation,” said Dr. Parrish, who also chairs the Council of Economic Advisers at the University of West Florida’s Haas Center.  “If you're spending all your money on gas and rent and food, there's not much money left for fun stuff.  The economy runs on fun stuff. If you're buying a motorcycle or a motor home, or taking a great vacation or something like that, that's really, really good for the economy, right?” he asked the Club.


    Dr. Parrish has maintained a probability of recession forecasting model for the past several years.   One component is the spread between 2-year and 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yields.  “The interest rate on a 2-year bond, which should be lower, is inverted now,” he said, noting it’s the largest inversion since 2000 and “a lot of the time, this signals a recession is coming on.”


    So, is Florida heading for a recession?  Dr. Parrish said his model shows about a 67% probability, noting as well a Wall Street Journal chart he displayed for Club members that shows a historical drop in consumer sentiment “very hard and very quickly right before we have a recession.”   On the positive side, “If we do go into a recession, Florida will weather it better than the U.S.,” he said.  In his question and answer session with Club members, Dr. Parrish also explored the positive factors in a recession, including easing inflation and increased entrepreneurism.


    Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


    Dr. Jerry Parrish Biography 


    Florida Institute of Government at Florida State University


    The Economic Club of Florida podcast, provides an extended platform for discussion to educate, engage, and empower citizens on important economic, political, and social issues.  Based in Tallahassee, Florida, the Club has featured distinguished speakers on engaging topics of national importance since 1977.  To learn more, including how to become a member, visit www.Economic-Club.com  or call 850-224-0711 or email mail@economic-club.com.  Date of recording 7/19/2022.  © Copyright 2022 The Economic Club of Florida, All Rights Reserved 

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    42 mins

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