How to Apply for Financing- Your Questions Answered

Listen to the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council (SBC) Coronavirus Small Business Loan webinar featuring SBC Chair Glenda Hood, the Small Business Administration Regional Director Ashley Bell, and President of the Small Business Development Network Mike Myhre.

Series on Free Enterprise: Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber “Stewards of the Space Coast”

For more than 80 years, the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce has served as the voice of business and has worked to enhance the quality of life in their community. On the latest Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise we are joined by Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Jennifer Sugarman, to discuss how they continue to be “stewards of the space coast.”

“Our community was largely built on the space program, so we are a little bit different than back when the Apollo era was going on because we are more diversified now than ever,” said Sugarman. “So, a lot of people felt like when the shuttle program retired the space coast was kind of dead in the water but that is far from true.”

Sign the Petition to Secure Florida’s Tourism Industry

This past year, Florida welcomed a record-breaking 126 million visitors to the Sunshine State. Tourism in Florida not only helps create jobs, but keeps taxes low for Florida residents. Sign the petition today to secure Florida’s tourism industry.

Series on Free Enterprise: WGI Is Helping Florida Grow

Florida is expected to grow by five million more residents by the year 2030 and with a growing population comes a growing need for supportive infrastructure. That’s where Wantman Group Incorporated, also known as WGI, comes in. WGI, a national design firm in the public and private infrastructure markets, is helping construct the future infrastructure network needed not only in Florida, but throughout the nation.

In the latest Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise podcast we sat down with Greg Sauter, President of WGI to discuss the work WGI is doing and why it is so important to Florida’s future.

“Our work is important because our infrastructure is critical to the health and welfare of residents of the state [Florida] and the ability for us to grow and support those five million new residents,” said Sauter.

Join the Florida Chamber Infrastructure Coalition

The Florida Chamber Infrastructure Coalition is dedicated to creating long-term investments in Florida’s energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, and rural infrastructure. Click here to join the Florida Chamber Infrastructure Coalition and learn how we are doubling down on efforts to maximize Florida’s economic growth opportunities through infrastructure investments.

Series on Free Enterprise: Miami Super Bowl Host Committee

 

Sign Our Tourism Petition

 

SERIES ON FREE ENTERPRISE
A Touchdown for Florida Tourism

When the Super Bowl comes to Miami in 2020, it will be the first time in 10 years it has been hosted in South Florida.  In the latest Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise Podcast, Rodney Barreto, Chairman of the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, shares the positive impacts hosting the Super Bowl in Miami will have on Florida’s tourism industry and on the growth of small and local businesses.

“We are a tourism state, especially down in South Florida, it is what we thrive on,” said Barreto.

When asked why the NFL keeps coming back to Florida for the Super Bowl, Barreto said the weather paired with a strong business climate and strong infrastructure are what keep Florida a main attraction.

Click below to listen to the full interview.

 

Florida Breaks Tourism Record for Eighth Year

During the Florida Chamber’s 2019 Legislative Fly-In, Dana Young, President and CEO, VISIT FLORIDA announced that Florida had once again broken a tourism record, with more than 126 million visitors coming to Florida in 2018. Help us continue breaking records and creating economic opportunity for Florida by signing our tourism petition today.

 

Series on Free Enterprise: Nadine O. Vogel

 

Study of Employment of Floridians With a Disability

 

SERIES ON FREE ENTERPRISE
‘You will actually reap the rewards of hiring someone with a disability
– Nadine Vogel, Springboard Consulting, LLC

According to research from the Florida Chamber Foundation, there are nearly 700,000 Floridians with disabilities that are not employed and may want to be part of Florida’s workforce. The report also shows the employment rate of persons with disabilities is increasing.

In a recent Series on Free Enterprise interview, Nadine O. Vogel, CEO of Springboard Consulting LLC talks about the benefits of hiring persons with a disability and a scholarship program available through Springboard Consulting to help students with disabilities continue their education.

Springboard Consulting helps business understand what they need to do from an organizational readiness standpoint to ensure hiring persons with a disability is a success and business reaps the reward with employees that are very productive.

 

Click below to listen to the full interview with Nadine Vogel.

 

On the Concerns Businesses Express About Hiring a Person with Disabilities:

There is a lot of fear that if they bring someone with a disability on and they do this wrong – ‘If  I don’t accommodate them appropriately, we don’t engage with them appropriately — then I’m going to get in trouble,’ and sometimes avoidance is easier.

If we have a business that is consumer facing, there is the concern that the consumers will not be comfortable. They will not want to shop in their stores or purchase their products. In fact, there have been a number of studies over the year that shows just the opposite. That people feel good about it and want to shop more.

Advice to Businesses About Recruiting New Talent:

To recruit the new talent when and how it is appropriate. It starts with organizational readiness.  It doesn’t mean everything has to be perfect before you start recruiting; it does mean that you should consider all these issues.

You will actually reap the rewards of hiring someone with a disability and finding out the amazing skill sets, the commitment, everything they bring to the table.

Springboard Foundation provides two scholarship programs — a general scholarship and a named scholarship where the scholarship is awarded in that company’s name and introductions are made between the scholarship recipient and the company providing the scholarship.

For information on Springboard Consulting, visit www.ConsultSpringboard.com

 

Series on Free Enterprise: Step Up For Students

 

Business Alliance for Early Learning     Register for Legislative Fly-In      Florida 2030 Report

 

A talented workforce is Florida’s best long-term economic strategy. In the most recent Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise, we sat down with Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up For Students to discuss the organization’s scholarship efforts, as well as the need for more flexible education options to ensure all students succeed.

“We’re excited about how things are going,” said Tuthill. “The future of public education is really customization and for too long, 150 plus years, we’ve had a one-size-fits all system.”

Click below to listen to the full podcast.

 

 

 

Help Turn Today’s Learners Into Tomorrow’s Earners

  1. Sign up for the Florida Chamber’s Business Alliance for Early Learning to help secure Florida’s future through quality early education.
  2. Hear from Florida’s new Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran during the Florida Chamber’s annual Legislative Fly-In.
  3. Check out the Florida Chamber Foundations Florida 2030 report which outlines key targets and strategies to help plan for Florida’s future, today.

Hope Allen: “Those with disabilities don’t have to be unemployed- they are absolutely employable.”

 

Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

After hearing a presentation of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s internship Program, the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce stepped up to the plate to help close the workforce gap. The key? Conversations.

“It’s all in conversations and not being afraid to have the conversations,” said HOPE ALLEN, President & CEO, Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. “Persons with disabilities are just like everybody else within your organization- don’t be afraid of it. So it’s spreading the message and having ambassadors and goodwill and I think that’s what the Florida Chamber is doing really well.”

Karen Pieters: “If you can broaden the vision of what you are looking for and who can be a great employee for you- that helps everyone.”

 

Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

Crystal River Main Street is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program.

“The internship program worked out absolutely phenomenally for us,” said KAREN PIETERS, CEO, Crystal River Main Street. “Being that we are a nonprofit, and being able to be reimbursed for the salary made a huge difference in our ability to do that.”

For businesses looking to meet workforce needs, Pieters recommends widening the scope of where you look for talent.

“It’s an entire segment of the population that actually has abilities, and can be employed, and is perhaps overlooked that winds up having to be on assistance and then therefore, are not able to be your customers and are not able to participate in the economy when they actually have the ability to do so, said PIETERS.”

Christina Davenport: “It goes back to education and getting the word out.”

 

Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

JMI Professional Services is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program.

“I think the business community has a need for these individuals with disabilities that are out there and they don’t realize, in my opinion, that they are available to work,” said CHRISTINA DAVENPORT, President, JMI Professional Services Inc. “It goes back to educating and letting those that are out there and have employment needs to let them know that there is another skilled group of individuals that are ready to work.”

Bruce Hagan Discusses How Businesses Participating in the Foundation’s Internship Program Can Help Close the Workforce Gap

 

“We are both going to walk away from this with tangible, accountable results.”

 – Bruce Hagan, RAI Investments

 

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

RAI Investments is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program. According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s data, unemployment rate for persons with disabilities in each of Florida’s counties are nearly three times higher than overall unemployment rate. Why does this matter to the business community?

“I think it matters because we need to reduce the number of people who are dependent on government and taxpayers,” said BRUCE HAGAN, RAI Investments. “We need to make them employable and create more taxpayers- let them become taxpayers themselves.”

Businesses can help close the workforce gap by getting involved, getting informed and doing what they do best- matching skills to job needs.

“I think you need to match the skill set to the potential employee, and of course we are always doing that,” said HAGAN. “You might not want someone who is confined to a wheel chair unloading and stacking warehouse inventory- but that person might be ideally suited to run your IT programs, including your inventory software. I think employers need to understand that generally, people who have a disability who are given this opportunity are going to really work hard and do all they can but, their differences are not that great from the other 320 million of us out there.”

 

Meet Your 2017 Education Summit Keynote: Mary O’Hara-Devereaux

Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise: Mary O’Hara-Devereaux

 

Register to Attend the 2018 Learners to Earners Summit
 

“It’s a whole different set of knowledge and skills that are required to participate in any kind of mid-level or higher end job… if you want to play in the future, you’ve got to have the right skills.”

 

 

 

Meet Mary O’Hara Devereaux, founder and CEO of Global Foresight, globally renowned futurist, and keynote speaker at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2017 Learners to Earners Education Summit.

“Education and business need to become better partners, and this isn’t a ‘nice’ thing to do- it’s a critical thing to do. This has to happen at multiple levels- it can’t be that you just learn when you get to a corporation. There has to be input, advice, decision making about K-12 between business and education. And they have to have, not just a voice at the table, but they have to have a vote at the table about what kind of knowledge and skills young children need today, even at preschool education.

 

I think we need radical innovation in the relationships between business and education… my forecast is that it will be impossible for the United States of America to be competitive in the future… without that kind of partnership between business and education- and we don’t have any time to lose.”

 

You Can Continue This Conversation In Orlando

Hear Mary live at the Education Summit, where you will have a chance to ask questions on the future of work, education and how the business community plays a crucial role.

Florida Chamber Tallahassee Region Chair John Medina Says Now is the Time to Stop the Business Rent Tax

 

“Not only is Florida the only state that requires this…tax, as we try to become competitive both domestically and globally, we need to be removing these types of competitive hurdles,” said  JOHN MEDINA, Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Tallahassee Regional Chair. “This is a tax on small businesses, and this is a great way for us to reduce or repeal a tax that could result in fostering economic activity, particularly for small businesses that could take that money and reinvest it into their own companies and act as an impetus for additional growth.”

In this edition of the Florida Chamber’s series of interview with business leaders, John Medina, Tallahassee Regional Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, discuss how the Florida-only business rent tax hinders businesses and makes our state less competitive. Gates, the Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at First Commerce Credit Union, applauds lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate that have taken steps to scale back the business rent tax, which costs Florida businesses $1.7 billion each and every year.

 

Take Action Now:

Join the Florida Chamber’s efforts to cut the business rent tax by signing the CutMyBizRent.Tax petition. Contact Greg Blose to learn how you can get involved.

Southwest Region Chair Todd Gates Says Business Rent Tax Makes Florida Less Competitive

 

“Anything we do to handcuff or make it more difficult for businesses to flourish and hire new people and expand their business is a bad thing, so it’s critically important that we eliminate that tax or at least wind it backwards as quickly as possible,” said TODD GATES, the Southwest Florida Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. “We’re the only state in the entire country that has this tax, so from a competitive perspective it’s really important that…the tax gets eliminated.”

In this edition of the Florida Chamber’s series of interview with business leaders, Gates, the founder and Chairman of GATES, a full-service construction management general contracting and design build firm with offices in Florida, North Carolina and the Republic of Panama, discusses why the issue of the state’s business rent tax must be resolved, not just for the sake of Florida’s business community, but for the sake of all Floridians.

“Anything that make us uncompetitive as a state is a bad thing, and anything that makes us more competitive is a good thing,” he said. “The more successful we are as business people, the more successful the communities are and the more successful everybody that’s involved will be. A rising tide truly rises all vessels.”

Todd Thomson Discusses Internship Program for Individuals with Disabilities

“We studied the Florida 2030 projections and know the challenges that our region faces in filling [the 6,000 new jobs Escambia County needs by 2030] and we absolutely believe that this type of internship program would be beneficial to our members. With the number of jobs that need to be filled, we need to find all sorts of candidates, and this type of internship program would be very important in trying to find those that are looking to fill these jobs,” said TODD THOMSON, Greater Pensacola Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs

The latest data available indicates an unemployment rate of 18.1 percent among Floridians with disabilities, nearly three times Florida’s overall unemployment rate. Smaller counties in Florida are not exempt from the problem either. Escambia County’s overall unemployment rate is holding at the same 6.3 percent as the state as a whole, but the county’s unemployment rate for disabled individuals is nearing the state average at an estimated 14.6 percent.

Todd Thomson, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Greater Escambia Chamber of Commerce, said his Chamber is looking to internship programs targeted at disabled job-seekers to help put a dent in those numbers and help the broader Escambia business community too.

“I think it’s an issue that’s not just important to our chamber, but I believe it’s an issue that’s important to the entire business community,” Thomson said. “That makes it even more important for us to provide opportunities for individuals who are looking for work and to educate businesses about these opportunities this [internship program] provides, and to try to bring that 14.6 unemployment rate down.”

Getting quantifiable results are important when determining the efficacy of the internship program, Thomson said, and direct feedback from participating businesses and organizations is perhaps the best way to tell how well the program is working.

“Surveys are one way we can measure the success…getting feedback from our partners and the other stakeholders who are involved with this process,” he said. “I think it’s just getting that data and feedback from the community to make sure we’re doing the right thing and making sure that these programs are successful.”

The Greater Pensacola Chamber has supported the Florida Chamber since 1936 and remains one of the Florida Chamber’s staunchest advocates in the Panhandle. Though Thomson is not a Florida Chamber board member, he and the rest of the Greater Pensacola Chamber have been an instrumental part of assisting the Florida Chamber’s efforts to fix the workers’ compensation issue facing state lawmakers in the upcoming Legislative Session. He said taking on workers’ comp-related problems is crucial for Escambia County and Florida as a whole.

“We’re looking at a number of important issues for the business community over here for 2017,” Thomson said. “First and foremost we’re focused on the workers compensation issue that they’ll be addressing in Tallahassee. This issue has a bottom-line impact on our local businesses and hopefully something can be done on the legislative level to fix that.

We’ll also be focusing locally on our…governments to make sure we have a good playing field for our businesses here. We feel pretty good about the way things are going here in Escambia County but we want to make sure that continues.”

Susan Connelly Discusses Florida’s United Business Community

Susan Connelly, Senior Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs at Darden, discuss the top issues she hopes to tackle in Central Florida as the Florida Chamber’s Central Florida Regional Board Chair.

 

Florida’s businesses are an important part of our state’s diverse communities. For Darden, their involvement doesn’t end with providing quality service to consumers.

“We are mindful that we live and work in remarkable communities all over Florida as well as all over the country. One of the programs that I’m really proud of is our Darden Harvest program,” said SUSAN CONNELLY, Florida Chamber Central Florida Regional Board Chair, Senior Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, Darden. “All of our restaurants across the country take unused food at the end of the night… that weren’t used, we cook it all up, we freeze it and we donate it to feeding agencies and food banks in the local community. We’ve donated as a system to date, almost 95 million pounds of food since the inception of the program.”

While Central Florida is known for a strong tourism industry, businesses are also focused on ensuring they have the correct workforce for the future, access to labor and cost effective healthcare. As the Florida Chamber’s Central Florida Regional Chair, Connelly will have a unique role in bringing businesses in that region together to solve challenges.

“I am so proud of the work that the Florida Chamber does as a leading voice for Florida businesses,” said Connelly. “The business community’s relationship with government continues to be more and more critical. I hope that we can work here in Central Florida to increase member engagement over the next year and beyond, because I strongly believe that we are stronger together as a business community and the more we can find our unified voice, we can accomplish great things for the people of Florida and Central Florida.”

 

And for Connelly, free enterprise is all about working together.

“Creating a strong working relationship and partnership between government and private industry is so much more productive than the adversarial relationship that sometimes exists- either perceived or actual,” said Connelly. “We have a unique opportunity in the business community to work with government to help them understand our businesses, not just from a periphery, but really deep down into how our businesses work and grow, and allow us to put offense together, as government and business, to invigorate the economy and solve problems for all Floridians- that’s when free enterprise works best, is when this is truly a partnership between our elected officials and our policy makers and the business community to really keep the health and wellbeing both economically and from a cultural and personal perspective of Floridians top of mind.”