Economic Outlook Part II: 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.

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  • | 12:05 a.m. November 27, 2023
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Bryan Moll

CEO, Gateway Jax

Bryan Moll

The primary economic issue facing Downtown development is macroeconomic headwinds.

Stubbornly high construction costs and a tight lending environment are two challenges for developers.

Jacksonville is not immune to these issues, but a number of bright spots specifically help Downtown development.

There is an unprecedented amount of private and public investment – $8 billion according to Downtown Vision Inc.’s 2023 State of Downtown Report.

Many public parks and infrastructure projects are under construction or fully funded, and Downtown Investment Authority incentive programs allow for small businesses and developers alike to make continued investments in Downtown.

Even if market conditions cause delays, the transformation of Downtown is well underway and will seed additional investment in the future.

Finally, well-capitalized companies, like Gateway Jax and others, have the ability to mitigate many of these headwinds.


Numa Saisselin

President, Florida Theatre Performing Arts Center Inc. 

Numa Saisselin

The primary economic issue facing the Jacksonville entertainment industry is disposable income.

After paying for groceries, housing, gas and health care, how much is left to feed your soul?

We learned during the pandemic, because we lost it entirely, what seeing live entertainment in the company of friends and neighbors means to our mental well-being.

People do not stop going out when the economy or their own economic circumstances are tough, but they do start making choices.

Someone going to 12 shows a year may now only go to six.

The challenge for the local arts and entertainment industry, including us, the symphony, the FSCJ Artist Series, the museums, the theatre and dance companies, is to make sure we get or produce events that will motivate customers, and then spend enough, possibly more, on marketing to make sure they know about it.


Abel Harding

Executive Vice President, North Florida Market President, First Horizon Bank 

Abel Harding

The primary economic issues facing the financial services industry are compressed margins and a shrinking deposit pool.

At First Horizon, we remain focused on safety and soundness. We have been successful in growing our deposit base across our footprint.

We’ve also been selective in how we deploy our capital as we look to grow full balance sheet relationships with clients that are well-positioned to weather economic storms. 


Patrick Green

CEO, UF Health Jacksonville

Patrick Green

There are several crucial issues facing the health care field but perhaps most pressing is our workforce.

The challenge of health care delivery has significantly increased since the pandemic and it still has not recovered.

We continue to be creative in ways to recruit and retain our most valuable asset, which is the people who care for our patients.

We are taking on the challenge by continuing to focus on our patients and providing high-quality clinical programs.

We exist to serve our patients and to improve the lives of the communities we serve. 

We are also growing our footprint to provide services to those communities that previously may not have had access to UF Health.

We are experiencing an increased demand for our services, a trend that will likely continue due to the number of people moving to Northeast Florida.

When we lead with quality of care and provide a work environment where our teams and physician partners can thrive, the economics and financial performance of the organization will take care of itself.


John Delaney

President, Flagler College

John Delaney

The primary economic issues facing higher education are inflation, interest rates and the economy.

Pricing weaves its way through every element of a budget. Can families continue to afford college?

Students should only borrow a total amount approximating a first-year salary on graduation, which is a doable amount, especially if working summers and/or 10 hours per week during the school year.

But interest rates impact loans. A slowing economy also frightens families. And pricing for our huge $120 million restoration project of the old Ponce Hotel has been impacted by inflation.

 We are working through it. It is just harder.

More Economic Outlooks

Economic Outlook Part I: Mark VanLoh, Christie Bird, Christian Oldenburg, David Garfunkel and Jackie Rowland. 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



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