FLORIDA: A Place in the Sun

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(See Cover) "This country," said General William Tecumseh Sherman, meaning Florida, "is not worth a damn."* Naturalist John James Audubon reported: "All that is not mud, mud, mud is sand, sand, sand." As of today, Sherman is wrong and Audubon is for the birds.

Florida, as any poolside statistician will confirm, is worth more every minute. Its present boom, five years old and picking up speed by the month, is no crazy-house of lot options. Governor Roy Collins says: "Florida stands on three sturdy legs. Tourism. Industry. Agriculture. The ultimate potential of all three has hardly been sighted, but all three must grow and thrive together, or none can survive." The common denominator of the three is the equable and reliable Florida sun, a priceless asset in a nation whose countless blessings do not, in its more populous regions, include a kindly climate. The sun draws tourists—5,000,000 this year, compared with half a million Americans who went to Europe. Some of the tourists stay as farmers or workers, and more would like to. Industry wants to go where workers, in this age of skilled-labor shortage, want to be. Two years ago, when Chemstrand Corp. opened its $88 million nylon plant (largest in the world) at Pensacola, it got 65,000 applications for 3,000 jobs, and most of them came from the hardest-to-get categories, such as chemists and engineers.

"The Whole State's Jumping." Out of the once-despised Florida mud and sand come annual crops of ever-increasing value. In the last five years, Florida frozen-orange-juice production has increased 58%, while California's has dropped 16%. Cattle raising has expanded.

From beneath the mud and sand have come other unsuspected riches—some as common as phosphate, some as fashionable as titanium.

As a result of the sun-made boom, Florida is the fastest growing state east of the Rocky Mountains. Items: ¶ Since 1950, its population has grown from 2,800,000 to 4,000,000, advancing the state from 20th to 14th in population.

If present rates of growth continue, Florida by 1960 will have 5,000,000 people, rank as the eighth U.S. state. Sixty percent of Floridians were born elsewhere.

¶ Since 1940, total individual income of Americans has risen 263%; Florida individual income is up 441%.

¶ Since 1946, U.S. industrial activity has increased 10.8%; Florida's is up 50.1%.

Mere figures, no matter how startling, cannot convey an adequate idea of the seismic social, political, economic and geographical changes that have come over Florida's face. "It's real crazy," a Florida State coed said one day last week in Tallahassee. "Things are happening. I keep asking people about it and they don't know how to explain it, but they go home for a weekend and find a new factory where there used to be an empty lot, or maybe 200 houses where there was a golf course. The whole state's jumping."

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