Early Childhood Investments and Economic Progress

This article is a product my wife and I worked on to combine our areas of passion and expertise. I am proud of my wife, Sarah. In addition to being a fantastic wife and great mother to our three children, she has a PhD in Communication Science and Disorders with an emphasis in language and literacy development from Florida State University. She also holds a Masters in Special Education with a Reading Endorsement and a Bachelor in Elementary Education from the University of Florida. She has worked at the Florida Center of Reading Research with published topics related to teacher quality, individualizing student instruction, and student academic outcomes. She has taught in preschool and elementary classrooms, and in higher education.

Our country is at a major crossroads. We are living in a time of major fundamental disagreements over our country’s economic issues and the path to economic prosperity. One thing that both politicians and researchers can agree on: there are far too many young children living in poverty. There are too many young children without access to basic human necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and adequate health care. These children are our future, and yet we are letting the most vulnerable members of our society down.

As a community, there is much that we can do to support them. One thing we can do to support these valuable assets is to provide them with access to high-quality early learning opportunities. These opportunities yield a number of short-term and long-term benefits, from personal to societal. High-quality programs make substantial contributions to the lives of young children and their families, and they yield high returns to society’s investment in them. When more money is spent on high quality early childhood education, the returns to society (and to the children) per dollar spent are higher. This is what makes early childhood education an economic development opportunity for our community. Early childhood education provides multiple economic investments to our community through two different avenues: the return on investment and the act of building human capital.

One thing that early childhood education investment does for our community is stimulate our economy by putting parents back to work. When children are in school, it allows their parents to join the labor force or provide time for parents to go back to school to learn a trade or further their education, thus allowing for greater cognitive, social and behavioral skills. When parents feel confident in their child’s caregiver or school, it creates less stress and more productivity from the parent. Furthermore, with the sense of reliability that comes with higher quality care, parents are less absent from work. This also provides a feeling of satisfaction because they know that their child is well taken care of and they harbor fewer feelings of guilt over leaving their child. Beyond it’s basic level, early childhood education allows our community to move toward greater social equity. A study conducted by the Foundation for Child Development and produced in collaboration with the Society for Research in Child Development states, “The most cost-effective educational interventions…are likely to be profitable investments for society as a whole.”

Research out of the Chicago Child-Parent Center Program found that society saves more than $7 for every $1 invested in preschool.

Building Human Capital

Talent is the new currency in economic development. We live in a knowledge economy where talent is both the driver and the key to our region’s economic prosperity. With emerging economies in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere, America’s economic competitiveness will come from knowledge-based careers, innovation and entrepreneurship. What all these opportunities have in common is the need for an educated workforce in addition to creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit. The best investment needed for this result is high-quality early childhood education.

Several studies have measured the outcomes of early childhood education programs. The Abecedarian Project found that young children who receive high-quality care from birth to age five are more likely to stay in school longer, perform better on reading and math assessments and cognitive assessments, graduate from high school and attend a four-year college. The High/Scope Perry Preschool followed 123 high-risk 3- and 4-year-old children and their families and found that by age 40, these adults were more likely to graduate from high school, hold a job, make higher earnings and commit fewer crimes than those who did not attend early childhood settings. The Chicago Child-Parent Center found similar results after following 989 students in the program versus 550 children who did not attend school through eighth grade and found that children who receive high-quality early education do better in school academically, are less likely to drop out of high school, be arrested, repeat grades or be placed in special education services.

Where Do We Go From Here

Early childhood educators cannot do this alone. They need your help and support, even if your child is not in school. During your lunch break or free time, consider becoming a part of Reading Pals, a joint collaboration between the United Way, Women Leadership Initiative, the Children’s Movement and local partners. They are looking for volunteers to dedicate an hour a week for 25 weeks or more to read in individual or small-group settings. Volunteers will be trained and screened before entering the program. The hour you give each week will have an effect that lasts a lifetime. Or, consider calling a local preschool to find out what supplies they need or how you might be able to support our most vulnerable assets.

Clearly, new policies and investments should be considered at every level of government. But, as in any movement, it all starts with you and me.

Gainesville Chamber President & CEO Announcement

(As released by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce on July 27, 2012)

The Board of the Directors of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce selected Tim Giuliani as the new president and chief executive officer following a national search.  He and the Chamber’s leadership team will work closely with community, educational and business leaders to advance Innovation Gainesville and create an environment where businesses can succeed.

“The Gainesville Chamber is leading our economy forward through the Innovation Gainesville initiative led by a collaboration of committed leaders.  Today, our community gains a leader who will propel our initiatives forward and take our nationally recognized organization to the next level,” said Mike Gallagher, chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors and President and CEO of SantaFe HealthCare and its affiliates.

Gallagher said, “Tim is already highly familiar with our chamber and Gainesville, having served as our director of Membership from 2006 to 2008. During his tenure he added 200 members to our organization. We expect to see the same level of success from Tim in this new role.”

Giuliani returns to Gainesville from Tallahassee where he served as vice president of Corporate Outreach and Engagement for the Florida Chamber of Commerce since February 2008. In that role, he managed statewide outreach, fundraising and grassroots efforts for the state’s largest business advocacy organization.

The Chamber Board of Directors established a search committee led by chair-elect Mitch Glaeser following the resignation of Brent Christensen, who took a position to head the economic development efforts for the Mississippi Development Authority after leading the Gainesville Chamber for 10 years.  After reviewing information on prospective candidates compiled by The PACE Group, a national search firm, the selection committee chose Giuliani after interviewing several candidates. They made their recommendations to the Chamber Board of Directors on July 20.

“The board unanimously approved the selection of Tim and we are confident that our 5-Star chamber is bringing in the best of the best by conducting a thorough national search,” Glaeser said.

Through collaboration with the University of Florida, Santa Fe College and others, the Innovation Gainesville initiative has already begun to show strong results.  Dr. Win Phillips, senior vice president and chief operating officer at UF, and a member of the search committee said, “The University has made a long term commitment to Innovation Gainesville and the relationship between the chamber and university is strong and is good for our entire community.”

Sonia Douglas has served as interim President and CEO since the departure of Brent Christensen.  “Sonia and the rest of the leadership team have provided exemplary leadership during the transition period.  The staff is top notch and I look forward to what we can accomplish together,” said Tim Giuliani.

“I am honored and excited to be selected to lead such a distinguished organization at a time when the need for economic leadership and job creation are so vital,” Giuliani said.  “My wife and I are University of Florida alumni, we consider Gainesville home, and we are looking forward to being very involved in the Gainesville community.”

Giuliani earned his bachelor’s in economics and communication from Florida State University and his M.B.A. from the UF Warrington College of Business Administration. Giuliani and his wife, Sarah, both from St. Augustine, FL, have two sons and a daughter. He is expected to start in his position in mid-August.

Small Business Survey In The News

Our Quarterly Small Business Index Survey was released to the media for the first time yesterday showing that small business owners are growing optimistic and nearly 40% are planning to hire in the next six months.  Our Florida Chamber Small Business Council is able to keep the pulse of issues facing small businseses through this survey.  This survey tool serves as a way to inform elected leaders and the media in Florida about the current state of small businesses.  We know that 4 of 5 new jobs will come from small businesses, so this information is critical to the policy development process in the Florida Capitol.

See below for a full copy of the report and what the media and leaders are saying about the results:

Please click here for a full copy of the results and analysis.

Please click here for results and analysis from the July 2011 survey.

Traditional News Coverage

Florida Trend Daily Pulse
Forty percent of Florida small business owners plan to hire

Jacksonville Business Journal
Small-business survey shows improving job outlook, yet most are still cautious

Southwest Florida News-Press
More Florida businesses planning to hire

Orlando Business Journal
Survey: Florida small businesses plan to increase hiring

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Forty percent of small business owners plan to hire, Florida Chamber says

Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Blog
Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey Highlights Positive Hiring, Business Health Trends

Forty percent of small business owners plan to hire, Florida Chamber says

Social Media Mentions

Florida Governor Rick Scott‏ Great News – nearly 40% of FL’s small business owners planning to hire more workers http://bit.ly/HhLGt1 #sayfie @FlChamber

RT @FLGovScott: Great News – nearly 40% of FL’s small business owners planning to hire more workers http://bit.ly/HhLGt1 #sayfie @FlChamber

RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry
RT @FLGovScott: Great News – nearly 40% of FL’s small business owners planning to hire more workers http://bit.ly/HhLGt1 #sayfie @FlChamber

Workforce Florida
RT  @FlChamber More FL small biz owners are optimistic and 40% plan to hire in next 6 months, says @FLChamber Small Biz Survey http://ow.ly/a4IqY #sayfie

2012 Tampa RNC Host Committee
RT @FlChamberMore FL small biz owners are optimistic and 40% plan to hire in next 6 months, says @FLChamber Small Biz Survey http://ow.ly/a4IqY #sayfie

Enterprise Florida
FLGovScott Great News – nearly 40% of FL’s small business owners planning to hire more workers http://bit.ly/HhLGt1 #sayfie @FlChamber

Facebook: Rick Scott shared a link
Florida Small Businesses are Open!

Rick Scott for Florida   – Optimistic Small Business Owners Plan to Hire More Floridians – Rick Scot
Over 40 other retweets and mentions

What the JOBS Act Would Do

Small businesses are critical to Florida’s economy, and “tomorrow,” they are even more important because of increasing global competition. Most research and economic analysis shows that small businesses create a bulk of net new jobs, employ more than 50% of the workforce and account for approximately 1/3 of the difference between a strong economy and a weak economy.

The JOBS Act, being debated in Washington, offers a multi-faceted approach to support small businesses and the creation of new firms. Here are a few highlights:

  • “Crowdfunding”- Startups and small businesses could now file with the SEC and solicit investments from non-institutional investors (like you and me) on a small scale (up to 10% of annual income or $10,000- whichever is less) to help build their companies.
  • Raises cap on private shareholders from 500 to 2000- Currently, companies that grow quickly, hire more employees and make them shareholders, face a quick road to going public that may not be the best option for their long-term strategy or ability to create jobs. This part of the bill gives fast growing companies an avenue to stay a private company, while bringing in new top talent with shareholder privileges, if they aren’t ready to go public.
  • Make going public less burdensome- This part of the bill gives companies an easier and less costly route to going public by removing some of the regulations that large corporations face.
  • Allows companies to solicit their stock to the public- This offering creates more of a free market to help companies build capital but will rely on investors making smart, informed decisions.

If this bill passes, we will see if this legislation is the answer to a fundamentally changed capital market that will foster job creation.

Fresh ideas needed to create more start-ups and grow small businesses

Business start-ups, small business growth and entrepreneurship are critically important to our economy.  In fact, they account for most net job growth in our state and country.

Beginning next week, the Florida Chamber Small Business Council will work with our state Department of Economic Opportunity (similar to a Dept. of Commerce in other states and federally) to identify and execute strategies to grow our economy through entrepreneurship and small business growth.  We will host the Small Business Stakeholders Forum at the Florida Chamber as the central way to build out the state’s 5-year economic development strategy as it relates to small business and entrepreneurship.

There are some things that the government can start doing, some things they can stop doing and many ways to rethink how Florida can improve its entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Now is the time to put forth the best ideas.  Please leave a comment, send me an email or contact me on Twitter (@TimGiuliani).

Entrepreneurship Op-Ed in Miami Herald

In honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week, I co-authored the op-ed below with Dr. Carrie Blanchard of the Florida Chamber Foundation to stress the importance of entrepreneurship in creating our future economy.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Miami Herald Op-Ed: Entrepreneurs Creating Economy of the Future