As I reflect on Independence Day and into the future, I am reminded that our country has always excelled at innovation.
Consider The Gilded Age, a period from roughly 1877 to just after the turn of the century. This short, 23-year period of growth produced hundreds of things we take for granted, including the telephone, the light bulb, air conditioning and the Kodak camera. Imagine life in Florida — or the world, for that matter — without those innovations and the life they make possible. America stands as one of the most prosperous nations in the history of the world due to its innovative spirit.
Multiple factors drive innovation, including need, financial reward, regulation, and even frustration. Many times, it is very personal because innovators put a piece of themselves into it.
Innovation often brings with it elements of failure, ridicule, and even financial risk. Then there is always the ever-present group of people driven solely by greed, waiting to pirate and capitalize on that innovation if it’s successful.
Most — if not all — innovations come from out-of-the-box thinking. The fact that our nation was built by such a diverse group of people has allowed us to excel in this area.
Florida owes its history as the longstanding global leader in citrus to the many innovations in manufacturing, marketing, health research, and growing methods that were born here. That is why it was very encouraging to hear CRDF’s Rick Dantzler speaking at a recent industry gathering promoting the message “no idea is a dumb idea” to try and encourage this innovative mentality from all industry players. We could make significantly more progress in finding solutions to critical issues if our government agencies, industry trade groups, and academia would foster more robust outreach programs.
Continuous innovation is crucial when things are at their best. It becomes critical when facing situations like we find ourselves in today, considering HLB and the other threats that loom over the industry.
Innovation may be the only way we will overcome these challenges. We should all strive to support this creative environment by encouraging innovation and the great minds behind it!