Economic Forecast 2023: Logistics, commercial development, information technology, restaurants and small business | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record


Finding and keeping qualified workers remains among the primary economic issues facing Northeast Florida business leaders in 2023, continuing their concerns from 2022.

Uncertainty, including the question of a recession, underlies the challenges.

Northeast Florida leaders offer their insight into how they plan to take on the challenges of the next 12 months.


Mitch Luciano

CEO, Trailer Bridge Inc.

The primary economic issue facing the logistics industry is the increase in interest rates.

Mitch Luciano

When manufacturers and consumers experience increased interest rates, their borrowing and spending decrease congruently.

The best way to face this challenge is to limit risk during these times.

This is the time to put the investment in your people, as they are the ones who will give you the biggest return with excellent customer service, ultimately retaining the customers you have.

As always, we will see the economy return, inflation decrease and interest rates drop again, and if you are in the right position to take advantage of that, you can grow and serve your customers as always.


Michael McNaughton

COO, Sleiman Enterprises

The primary economic issues facing the commercial development industry are interest rates and the cost of capital.

Michael McNaughton

The commercial real estate industry is still working to level the disparity between a) the cost of capital, b) rising prices for materials and c) delayed supply chain issues with the expectations in the market for continued velocity.

The robust pipeline of investor activity is slowing because of higher costs of capital on the investor side and a reluctance to reduce pricing on the sell side.

As a result, transaction volume is slowing while the sector searches for firm ground.

Companies cannot solely rely on market tailwinds and need to manufacture their own returns through creativity and fundamentals.   


Wendy Norfleet

CEO, Norfleet Integrated Solutions

The primary economic issue facing the information technology industry is the talent shortage.

Wendy Norfleet

The talent shortage is an industrywide challenge, and with an increasing number of entry-level positions available, innovative alternatives to hiring are necessary.

When talking with many of my colleagues, I am impressed with the actions taken to fill the void.

Some companies work with local colleges and universities to have more access to students.

These activities include serving on advisory boards, hosting student activities on-site and providing internships.

Other organizations offer apprenticeships or accept industry certifications, college certificates and associate degrees as entry criteria to acquire the needed talent.

While each business’s hiring process and activities vary, it is encouraging to see the thoughtfulness and innovation taking place to fill information technology positions. 


Travis Norman

Owner, Heartfelt Hospitality Group LLC 

The restaurant industry’s greatest asset is human capital and it is sparse in today’s employment climate.

Travis Norman

As the industry continues to experience an exodus among employees, restaurants are shifting their culture by fostering an inclusive work environment reducing attrition.

More communication and education makes team members feel more included and ultimately less likely to leave.

Always be recruiting, not only externally, but also among your current team members.

Your team socializes among like-minded people. Incentivize them for recruiting.

Survey team member happiness. Frequent check-ins through surveying gives them a voice and in return you are given the opportunity to improve the work environment. It is much easier to keep employees than to find new ones.

The industry is abandoning its old ways of a “transient workforce” and beginning to foster a culture of longer-term employment.


Pamela Payne

Northern Florida Recruiting & Consulting Services Inc.

The primary economic issue facing small business is hiring good people.

Pamela Payne

We are taking on the challenge by visiting area colleges and universities; posting flyers on student activity boards and speaking to the student center directors; having candidates go through a rigorous application process that includes cognitive abilities, personality and motivation to ensure they are a good fit for our retail business; onboarding and initial training – all new employees go through an extensive training program; offering new hire monetary bonuses; building a stronger employer brand; writing better job descriptions; embracing digital trends and social media; using employee referrals; and appreciating and valuing the employees we have by providing incentives every month for their enjoyment – i.e., tickets to professional games and fruit-themed baskets with catchy themes (Peaches – “We hope you have a peachy day.”)


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