Economic Outlook Part I: The challenges ahead for 2024

Amid high interest rates, a tight labor market and challenging housing affordability, Northeast Florida leaders share how they are taking on the coming year.

  • By
  • | 12:00 a.m. November 24, 2023
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Business
  • Share


Mark VanLoh

CEO, Jacksonville Aviation Authority 

Mark VanLoh

The primary economic issue is keeping up with the infrastructure needs of airports throughout the country.  

Nearly every month in 2023 broke passenger records.

We can’t build quickly enough to address that growth.

On some days every existing gate is occupied by an aircraft, restaurants are overflowing with passengers, and parking is at capacity.

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority has announced plans to build a third concourse with six new gates and plenty of dining options as well as building a third parking garage, repurposing parking lots and adding spaces to existing lots.

Each of these projects takes time and brings their own set of challenges: FAA approvals, the availability of materials like concrete and steel, and budgeting for those items with costs constantly rising.

Despite these headwinds, we are working to build a better experience for our travelers.


Christie Bird

President and CEO, Jones & Rose

Christie Bird

The primary economic issue facing the beauty care industry in my opinion is the significant increase in pricing for natural-based raw materials.

That ultimately affects finished product pricing and is passed down to the consumer in a hypercompetitive market for both online and brick-and-mortar retail spaces. 

There is a lot of competition in the beauty care space and consumers are more conscious of the ingredients used in cosmetic, skin care and beauty formulations.

My mission is that we stay true to our mantra of offering healthy ingredients, globally sourced and finished products with a high efficacy that customers can trust on their skin.

We continue to be transparent in our ingredient list, often highlighting them on our front label panel to eliminate the guessing on ingredients used.

With this, we foster a sense of community and trust to show our commitment to using a high percentage of natural-based ingredients, despite the price.

We also have components in our business model where consumers can customize their products to make their experience more personal and intentional.

To combat the elevated raw material pricing, which is unfortunately passed down to the consumer many times, we try to overcompensate with superior products, personalized customization of products, and enhanced in-store experiences.


Christian Oldenburg

Executive Managing Director, Market Leader, Colliers North Florida

2024 President, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Northeast Florida Chapter

Christian Oldenburg

\The primary economic issue facing commercial real estate brokerage is the dramatically higher cost of capital driven by changes in benchmark interest rates.

It is well known that commercial real estate brokerage is a cyclical business, but good brokerage organizations can succeed in both good and bad real estate markets.

Recession sets in for the brokerage industry when the bid-ask spread widens and transaction velocity slows dramatically, which is exactly what we have been dealing with since fourth-quarter 2022.

During these periods, there isn’t much brokerages can do but control expenses and focus on servicing our existing clients, many of whom need our advice now more than ever.

While the market struggles to find its footing, we are preparing for the next phase of deals by aligning with those who are ready to execute under a new set of rules in a different investment environment. 


David Garfunkel

President, LIFT JAX

David Garfunkel

One of the primary economic issues facing our work in community development is housing affordability.

Many families are presented with the difficult challenge of balancing increased costs associated with not just housing, but everyday necessities like food.

One of our top priorities at LIFT JAX is to ensure the Historic Eastside neighborhood offers a variety of high-quality mixed-income housing.

We are doing so by revitalizing two affordable housing apartment complexes and one mixed-income apartment complex, supporting existing residents with critical home renovations such as roof repairs through the Restore & Repair Program, and even building new houses through Project Boots in partnership with LISC.

These initiatives support our mission to work alongside OutEast residents to preserve the history and character of the neighborhood, while also enabling it to prosper for years to come. 


Jackie Rowland

President and CEO, Russell Rowland Inc. 

JAX Chamber 2023 Small Business Leader of the Year

Jackie Rowland
Photo by Greg Lepera

The primary economic issue facing the construction and engineering industry is a labor shortage of skilled employees.

The labor shortage in engineering talent in Northeast Florida is especially difficult because Jacksonville ranks low out of large metro areas in producing engineers.

This along with an increased number of new retirees makes the job market extremely competitive.

We’ve seen the industry as a whole putting significant effort into career fairs at local and state universities but there are fewer students looking for full-time employment.

In addition to an increased presence at career fairs, we’ve been focusing on employee retainment to ensure that the great employees we have stay on our team.

This includes acknowledging the efforts and contributions of employees, building a culture that fosters mutual respect and career growth, and ensuring our benefits and compensation package match expectations in the industry.

More outlooks

Economic Outlook Part II: Bryan Moll, Numa Saisselin, Abel Harding, Patrick Green and John Delaney. Story here

Economic Outlook Part III: Michael Corrigan, Sharon Rowlands, Jay Stowe, Nathaniel Ford and Blane McCarthy. Story here

Economic Outlook Part IV: Dennis Whittle, Isaiah Oliver, Aundra Wallace, Dana Stallings and Eric Green. Story here

Economic forecast: An optimistic outlook for 2024. Story here



Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.