Florida Voters Strong on Governor DeSantis, Down on Impeachment Removal from Office, Concerned Most About Healthcare Costs and Finding Skilled Workers

Latest Florida Chamber Political Poll and Small Business Survey Show

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 21, 2020) – Governor Ron DeSantis continues to enjoy strong approval ratings among voters (68-18 percent), which is helping bolster voters’ feelings that Florida is moving in the right direction (63 to 24 percent), according to the latest statewide poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

And as the impeachment trial gets underway in the U.S. Senate today, Florida voters do not approve of the Senate removing President Donald Trump from office, with 52 percent of voters disapproving and 43 percent approving.

While healthcare tops the list of issues voters would like the Florida Legislature to tackle this session (18 percent), the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey shows that job creators are still most concerned about finding qualified workers to fill the 284,800 open jobs.

“Floridians are confident in Governor DeSantis and, while they’re concerned about healthcare costs and workforce quality, support his efforts to help keep Florida moving in the right direction and champion solutions,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

With the road to the White House running through Florida, presidential head-to-head races show Donald Trump leading Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Mike Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

Governor DeSantis Approve/Disapprove:

68% approve
18% disapprove
14% unsure

Florida Right/Wrong Direction:

63% right direction
24% wrong track
13% not sure

After impeachment, should President Trump be removed from office?

52% disapprove, 43% approve
DEMOCRATS: 73% approve, 20% disapprove
NPA’s: 50% approve, 46% disapprove
REPUBLICANS: 87% disapprove, 9% approve

What issues should the legislature address?

Healthcare Costs 18%
Jobs/Economy 12%
Environment 9%
Education 9%
Immigration 6%

What’s keeping job creators up at night?

Florida Chamber’s Small Business Index Survey
Workforce quality 28%
Healthcare Costs 13%
Government Regulations 12%
Economic Uncertainty 10%

Presidential Head-to-Heads

                            Head-to-Head                  DEM               REP                NPA

Trump/Biden             49/45                          16/78              88/7                41/51

Trump/Warren          50/43                          17/75              90/7                41/50

Trump/Bloomberg    49/44                          16/75              87/8                40/53

Trump/Buttigieg        50/43                          19/72              87/9                40/51

In addition to measuring where voters stand on candidates and issues, the latest polling results show that NPAs continue to lead in voter registrations. In December, the latest month for which the state has data, 29 percent of new voters registered as Democrats, 34 percent registered as Republicans, and 37 percent registered as NPA – for a total of 50,733 total voter registrations in Florida. Total state voter registrations show 37 percent are Democrats, 35 percent are Republicans and 28 percent are NPAs.


The Florida Chamber of Commerce political poll was conducted on January 3-12,2020 by Cherry Communications during live telephone interviews of likely voters, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The sample size included 247 Democrats, 241 Republicans and 120 Others for a total of 608 respondents statewide. The samples for the polls conducted by the Florida Chamber are consistently drawn from likely voters and newly registered voters, meaning those voters who have the propensity and past performance of voting in elections, rather than simply including registered voters.  Voters are again screened for likelihood of voting.

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber Releases 2020 Jobs Agenda


Keeping Florida’s Momentum Going and Predicting 200,000 New Jobs in 2020

“Making Florida more competitive is essential for job and economic growth.”

MARK WILSON, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

TALLAHASSEE, FL (January 13, 2020) – Job creators are gathering in Tallahassee this week with optimism that Florida can keep the momentum going, create 200,000 new jobs this year, and strengthen Florida’s economy even more through actions by the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis. Additionally, job creators have released the Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda, commonly referred to as the Florida Business Agenda, which highlights where the Florida Chamber stands on key legislative decisions. 

Business leaders from throughout Florida are gathering this week at the Capitol as part of the Florida Chamber’s Annual Legislative Fly-In, and are sharing the Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda which will help create jobs, lower the cost of living and lift incomes – with the belief that Florida’s best days are yet to come.

The Florida Chamber is uniting the business community for good to:

– Lower the Cost of Living,
-Reduce the Cost of Doing Business, and
-Better Prepare for Florida’s Future Growth.

These are ideas outlined in Florida’s 2030 Blueprint, commonly known as Florida’s next Strategic Plan.

“The Florida Chamber’s annual jobs and competitiveness agenda – the Florida Business Agenda – is a set of priorities that will help grow private sector jobs, continue to create economic opportunity in Florida and further diversify our economy,” said Charles Caulkins, Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Partner at Fisher Phillips.

For the last nine years, Florida has outpaced the U.S. economy in job growth. As Florida will grow at approximately 900 new residents daily, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish predicts that Florida will create 200,000 new jobs in 2020 and that the Sunshine State has a lower probability of recession than last year.

“If Florida was a stock, it would be considered a strong buy. While Florida’s economic outlook for 2020 is positive, it’s not without risks which is why passing the Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda is so important,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber’s 2020 Jobs Agenda Includes:

Lowering the Cost of Living:

Lawsuit abuse essentially amounts to additional taxes on Florida families over $4,000 each year. Florida’s lawsuit climate currently ranks 46 out of 50 in a national survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

  • The Florida Legislature should improve Florida’s legal climate by passing common-sense reforms to curtail abuse of Florida’s legal system.

“If we make the legal climate so it’s based on the clients rather than the attorneys, I think that would be a better climate,” Governor Ron DeSantis said when the national survey ranking Florida’s lawsuit climate among the nation’s worst was released.

Reducing Florida’s Cost of Doing Business:

Discouraging and anti-competitive tax policies, like the Florida-only business rent tax and lack of internet sales tax collection, make Florida less competitive.

  • The Florida Legislature should advance globally competitive tax policies by reducing the Business Rent Tax and modernizing Florida’s tax code to collect sales tax on internet transactions from out-of-state retailers.

Preparing for the Future Growth:

According to www.TheFloridaScorecard.org, there are 284,800 jobs looking for people and 323,000 people looking for jobs. Finding a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. Employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce, and Florida wins when we close the talent gap.

The Florida Legislature should:

  • Continue to focus on early learning, talent and workforce shortage solutions. 
  • Continue to support the legislatively-created Talent Development Council to develop a coordinated, data-driven, statewide approach to meeting Florida’s needs for a 21st century workforce that employers and educators use as part of Florida’s talent supply system. This also supports Governor DeSantis’s efforts to have the number one workforce in America.

By 2030, 4.5 million more residents will call Florida home. A growing Florida means a growing need for forward-thinking infrastructure investments in Florida’s energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, agriculture and other hard and soft infrastructure sectors.

The Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition recommends that the Florida Legislature:

  • Continue to make long-term investments in energy, transportation, resiliency and water policy for Florida’s future.

Florida is currently experiencing a shortage of access to high-value, quality healthcare and that is a problem that will continue to grow as Florida’s population grows. That is why we support expanding scope of practice laws to allow for greater access to care, particularly in rural and underserved communities.

The Florida Chamber’s Healthcare Partnership encourages the Florida Legislature to:

  • Support expanding scope of practice for Advanced Practitioners and allow them to practice medicine to the full extent of their education and training.

“Year after year, the Florida Chamber has been at the forefront of solving issues that impact the competitiveness and future of Florida’s business climate. Our focus remains steadfast in our efforts to be the driving force uniting Florida’s business community for good, creating economic opportunity and growing jobs,” Wilson added.

The Florida Chamber will track each bill on the Florida Business Agenda, and votes will be used as the basis for grading lawmakers at the conclusion of the Legislative Session. We look forward to working with Governor DeSantis, Senate President Bill Galvano and Speaker of the House Jose Oliva to keep Florida’s momentum going.

The Florida Chamber’s 2020 Florida Business Agenda can be downloaded HERE.


The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

2020 Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity

Did you know more than 3 million Floridians live in poverty? Of those, more than 260,000 are under age 5.

Join business and industry leaders as well as elected officials and community voices us as we analyze a path to prosperity for each of Florida’s zip codes. We will also discuss best practices around the state, how they can be replicated and more. Conversations will also focus around 10 topic areas that the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research shows are: Jobs, Education, Housing, Health, Food, Safety, Child care, Justice, Transportation and Agency-Community voice.

Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity
May 19, 2020
The Westin Sarasota
Sarasota, Florida

To have your logo featured here, click here or contact Aaron Kinnon at AKinnon@FlFoundation.org.

Q&A: Protecting Florida’s Beaches, Our Tourism Economy and Military Operations

Q: What coastal protections does Florida currently have regarding offshore energy production?

A: Until January 2022, offshore oil and gas drilling is prohibited by federal law from taking place east of the Military Mission Line or within 125 miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Oil and gas drilling are prohibited by state law from taking place within 3 nautical miles of Florida’s Atlantic Coast and the Florida Straits. In 2018, Florida residents voted to implement a constitutional amendment that would prohibit any oil and gas development in all state waters.

Q: How does the 2018 voter approved constitutional ballot measure impact oil and gas development in Florida waters?

A: In 2018, Florida voters approved a prohibition of exploration and extraction of oil or natural gas beneath all state waters that lie between the mean high-water line and the outermost boundaries of the state’s territorial seas. The constitutional prohibition does not apply to the transportation of oil and gas, nor does it prohibit extraction outside of Florida’s state boundaries. This is an important distinction because not all the coastal water visible from Florida’s shore is Florida’s to regulate. Much of it is under federal protection and purview.

Q: Is it true that starting in 2022, the state of Florida will only have the ability to restrict offshore energy development in its own waters?

A: The current federal moratorium on oil and gas development off of Florida’s Gulf Coast will expire in June 2022. Unless a new agreement is reached or law enacted, Florida will only be able to restrict energy development to Florida waters. That is why the Florida Chamber is insisting on an agreement.

Protecting Florida’s Tourism:

Q: How far out in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean do Florida state waters reach?

A: Florida state waters extend from the shore to at least 3 nautical miles out in the Atlantic and from the shore to 9 nautical miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Q: How far into the waters off Florida’s beaches can you see?

A: If you’re standing on the average Florida beach, you can see a little over 3 miles out into the ocean. If you’re on the 10th floor of a Florida beachfront hotel, you can generally see about 15 miles out. If you’re on a balcony at Miami’s 85-story Panorama Tower (Florida’s tallest building), you can see about 38 miles out into the ocean.

Q: What is tourism’s economic impact on Florida’s economy?

A: Florida’s world-class, tourism-based economy supports 1.4 million jobs and brings more than $90 billion to Florida each year. Last year more than 124.6 million people visited Florida, and an additional 50 million will visit us annually in future years.

Protecting Florida’s Military:

Q: How does the United States military utilize Florida’s waters?

A: Missions utilizing the Eastern Gulf of Mexico include research activity, technology demonstrations, air-to-air and air-to-ground (surface) missile testing (including the use of drone targets), combat surface ship qualification trials, mine warfare testing and training, and explosive ordnance disposal training.

Q: Who oversees Florida’s military operations? Do the Department of Defense, and the Department of Interior (the federal agency which oversees offshore energy development) coordinate to ensure that military training is not impaired?

A: The U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Interior coordinate and have established strict safety standards under a 1983 memorandum of agreement, which ensures that the military’s critical missions are not impaired by commercial or recreational activities. These standards have been successfully protecting both military operations and civilian activity in federal waters for decades.

Q: How big of an economic impact does the military play in Florida’s economy?

A: The military and defense sectors contribute $84.9 billion annually to Florida’s economy.

What Other States are Doing:

Q: How are Florida’s neighboring states reacting to offshore energy production?

A: The economies of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are strongly tied to the jobs directly and indirectly created by the offshore energy industry. These states have seen offshore development off their coast for more than 60 years. Additionally, these states receive a portion of federal revenue from the proceeds of offshore lease sales. Louisiana received a total of $94.7 million in funding in 2018, while Texas, Mississippi and Alabama received $57.9 million, $31.7 million and $30.6 million respectively.

To learn more, read Florida is Special. Let’s Keep it That Way, or contact David Hart at dhart@flchamber.com.

Florida is Special. Let’s Keep it That Way

One thing most Floridians can agree on is that Florida is special. We enjoy beautiful weather, one of the nation’s best education systems, incredible beaches, a military infrastructure vital to our way of life, a $1 trillion and growing annual economy and a shared spirit of optimism about our future.

However, it is going to take a strong collective effort on all our parts to truly secure Florida’s future.

That’s because in 2022, the current moratorium on drilling for oil virtually anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico expires.

If Congress fails to generate bipartisan support, and the current moratorium expires, oil platforms could be sitting just nine miles off Florida’s coastline, where Florida waters end and federal waters begin.

Perhaps that fact alone got your attention. I hope so.

But there’s more to the story.

There will be no protections in place unless, before 2022, a majority of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a supermajority of 60 bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate reach agreement on some form of extension that the President would agree to sign into law.

Given the partisanship and political stalemate right now in our nation’s capital, this is no small order.

President Donald Trump has called for the United States to achieve not just energy independence, but energy dominance. This is certainly a worthy goal, to ensure we are not constantly held hostage for our energy needs by regimes that rarely have our interests at heart, like Venezuela and Iran.

A major building block of the Trump Administration’s energy dominance goal is the upcoming Department of Interior five-year plan.

As Floridians, we would be wise to assume that opening up new energy exploration areas in the Gulf of Mexico could be part of the federal plan.

Equally, we must understand that the combination of this forthcoming plan and the impending end to the drilling moratorium requires us to act to set the terms which will protect Florida and its unparalleled natural beauty.

We don’t doubt that somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, far from our shores, there are energy resources that can be safely extracted and contribute to the economy and energy security of the U.S. There are already 2,557 active leases and 3,200 active oil drilling platforms in the Gulf now, distant from our beaches and ocean views.

To provide certainty for Florida, leaders in Congress must begin meaningful negotiations to address this challenge. We understand that this will be a difficult process and that some compromises will be necessary. However, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is prepared to support a negotiated plan so long as it meets the following requirements:

  1. Protects Florida’s beautiful beaches and natural habitats, which are the core of our quality of life and a major reason why 124.6 million people visited Florida last year – and an additional 50 million will visit us annually.
  2. Does no harm to our world-class, tourism-based economy, which supports 1.4 million jobs and brings more than $90 billion to our state each year.
  3. Exists in harmony with the current and future military operations – including Space Force – that take place in the Gulf of Mexico. Those missions are vital to our national security, and the military and defense sectors contribute $84.9 billion annually to our economy.

These are the principles we will advocate be addressed in any negotiations in Congress, and they should inform any deal that sets forth what will happen after 2022. We also will ensure that any final deal guarantees that if exploration does happen in the Gulf, it will only happen at a significant enough distance away to protect what makes Florida special.

We must not lose sight of the reality that if Congress fails to act it means the current moratorium expires in barely three years, and we could be seeing oil rigs from Naples, Clearwater, Destin or any of our beautiful beaches.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is and will always be engaged in protecting Florida’s interests and securing its future, so we will vigorously seek support for a compromise that meets our three requirements.

Florida is special and we must unite as Floridians to keep it that way. If we all work together, we can secure a deal that meets these three non-negotiable principles and protects the natural beauty we all love.

Mark Wilson is President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at mwilson@flchamber.com.

Military & Defense Industry Key to Moving Florida From 17th Largest Economy to 10th Largest Economy in the World

Major General Highlights Oil Drilling Moratorium Expiration, Tyndall AFB Rebuild

Jacksonville, Fla. (August 13, 2019) – Florida’s defense industry is playing a major role in efforts to grow Florida from its current 17th largest economy in the world to the 10th largest economy, the Florida Chamber Foundation announced today during the 2019 Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.

“We want to see Florida grow from the 17th largest economy in the world to 10th largest economy, and the defense industry will help diversify and help fuel this growth,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Florida is one of the most strategically important states for the U.S. Armed Forces with 20 major military installations, three combat command centers and thousands of defense contractors supporting more than 800,000 Florida jobs. And discussions on expanding the military and defense industry and supporting Florida’s growing veterans’ population are topping discussions during the first day of the summit taking place in Jacksonville.

Both Wilson and Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.) Michael D. Jones, a headlining speaker, focused on how the 2022 expiration of the moratorium on oil drilling could be harmful to Florida’s military bases.

“Think about the importance of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. If you’ve not been following what Congress is not doing, the moratorium on oil drilling ends in 2022. If Congress doesn’t deal with the moratorium expiring in 2022, we could have drilling nine miles off our coast,” Wilson added.

Major General Jones also urged Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit attendees to remain vigilant on the rebuilding of Tyndall Air Force Base. He noted that there is a commitment to rebuilding Tyndall though the reality is we need to be cautious. “If we don’t think there are others out there who are competing, who would like to see those F-35 squadrons go elsewhere, I think we’re being naïve,” he said. 

Featured speakers for Day 1 include:

  • Lt. Col Mike Askegren, Base Civil Engineer, Tyndall Air Force Base
  • Greg Britton, Interim Director, DefenseWerx
  • Danny Burgess, Executive Director, Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Kevin Carr, CEO, FloridaMakes
  • George Cheros, President and CEO, National Center for Simulation
  • Daniel Davis, President and CEO, JAX Chamber
  • Frank DiBello, President and CEO, Space Florida
  • Jane Dowgwillo, PTAC State Manager, Florida SBDC Network
  • Warren Helm, Director and Site Leader for Cecil Field MRO Operations, Boeing
  • Major General (Ret.) Michael Jones, The SPECTRUM Group
  • Tim Jones, Pesident and CEO, Cybrix Group; Florida Defense Alliance
  • Kellie Jo Kilberg, Vice President, Randy Wise Homes; Chair, Florida Defense Alliance
  • Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor of Community Relations and Student Advancement, Keiser University; Space Florida Board of Directors
  • Joe Marino, Executive Director, Veterans Florida
  • Mel Ponder, House of Representatives, District 4
  • Bill Reuter, President, R-Squared Solutions
  • Jamal Sowell, President & CEO, Enterprise Florida
  • Kay Schwartz, Executive Director, Regional HR Operations, USAA

Tomorrow, Day 2 will include a special focus on Florida’s military communities, and a legislative discussion on expanding Florida’s military and defense industry and supporting Florida’s growing veteran population.

Featured speakers will include:

  • Doug Broxson, Florida Senate, District 1
  • Mona Dexter, Senior Director, Operations and Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Ken Lawson, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • David Smith, House of Representatives, District 28
  • Tom Wright, Florida Senate, District 14

Bruce Grant, Vice President of Military and Defense Programs, Enterprise Florida

In the latest Florida Horizon, Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation sat down with Bruce Grant, Vice President of Military and Defense Programs with Enterprise Florida to discuss Florida’s military presence and the important role our defense industry has on Florida’s economy. Enterprise Florida is the economic development agency for the state of Florida.

Below are highlights from this interview along with select excerpts.

Florida’s Defense Industry and its Impact on the State Economy.

“It is actually the number two economic driver. It brings in about $84.9 billion a year in terms of economic impact to the state of Florida. It’s very, very important.”

“Some of it is direct and indirect. We’ve got defense industries that bring a lot of those dollars in. We’ve also got as part of our military structure in Orlando – something called our Modeling, Simulation and Training Center alone brings in about $5 billion a year.”

Enterprise Florida and Expanding Florida’s Defense Industry

“Enterprise Florida is the economic development agency for the state of Florida and it’s interesting because military and defense is such a big part of the economy, and we have connections with Enterprise Florida through our economic development organizations around the state. Many of those have military affairs committees and the chambers are involved. Everyone understands how important the military and defense industry is to the state of Florida and they want to support it. Not only keep it, but grow it.”

Why Florida is an Attractive Place for Military, Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans

“The Florida model we hold up to other states is really an example of how … to support military and defense in your state. It consists of four different components.”

  • “The first is the Governor’s support, particularly in holding base commander’s meetings on a regular basis.”
  • “The second element is something called the Florida Defense Support Task Force that is a state level authorized, mandated council, commission that meets every month, is well funded by the legislature and handles all those issues that protect our bases.”
  • “The next element, the third one is the Florida Defense Alliance. … What it’s done is brought together communities, all these local defense communities… and allows those folks to get together to best support military and defense in this state.”
  • “Fourth and lastly, Florida has been very consistent and very supportive over the years in supporting defense grants. These grants help with projects but also with relationships over time that allow our bases to remain strong.”

Ripple Effect of Florida Military Bases

“Even if a community doesn’t have a base nearby, those bases have a residual impact like a pebble in the water in terms of the ripples going out. And so they touch many, many other communities around. And as said before, as military defense is the number two driver in the state… that touches all the counties in the state.”

The Business Case for Military, Defense & Homeland Security

“We in Florida are blessed to have 20 military installations. Those military installations and all the attendant military and defense businesses bring in $84.9 billion worth of economic impact to the state of Florida. Not only that, they create over 800,000 jobs for Floridians. We are very lucky because we have these bases. We also have a very vibrant veteran’s community – about a million and a half veterans. And a very, very strong defense industry highlighted by our people in Orlando where there is a Modeling, Simulation and Training Center that is unlike any place in the world.”

Keeping Florida Military Friendly

“We have local defense communities all around this state that are normally right around our military bases and as you can understand they are connected to those bases and they support all the military members and their families. And they have done things over the years to help make life easier for the military families.”

“We pride ourselves on being the most military friendly state as evidenced by many of the laws Florida has passed that would in fact, help not only military members, but their families. It gives them some advantages that they don’t have in other states. We hear all the time how friendly Florida is – not only the laws – but also the people in the communities are very welcoming to them.”

Florida’s Reinvestment Grants

“The Governor just announced $2.9 million worth of defense grants. They include defense infrastructure grants that go towards projects and reinvestment grants that go towards relationships and with the military bases and communities. So they have been particularly effective because they have been going since about 1998.”

The Purpose of the Governor’s Initiative on Lawyers Assisting Warriors (GI LAW)

“We’re very fortunate that the Governor himself served in uniform in the United States Navy as a JAG officer.  One of his initiatives that just came into fruition in the last month or so is something called GI LAW. That stands for GI Lawyers Assisting Warriors. Essentially it is pro bono legal assistance for military members and their families. Should a military member have a legal issue that he or she needs to address, they can go to one of five law firms from around the state who will pick up that case pro bono and help that service man or women.”

Enterprise Florida and Expanding Military, Defense & Homeland Security

“We have a business development section who works this. In fact they have one person dedicated just to expanding the defense industry in Florida. We continue to bring more jobs, more industry and more businesses to our already robust defense industry in Florida.”

Florida: The Home of Space

“Governor DeSantis has made it a priority in trying to acquire either the Space Command or the Space Force to the state of Florida. We are the home of space. As the Governor says, it’s in our DNA and we have all those facilities on the Cape that launch and make commercial launches and military launches and have for many, many years. So it’s a natural fit for Florida.”

SPEAKER ANNOUNCED: Space Florida’s Frank DiBello to Discuss U.S. Space Command

Space Florida President Frank DiBello
Florida: The State for Space

We are pleased to welcome Space Florida’s Frank DiBello as a Summit speaker to discuss space command, job creation, and opportunities for state and local economic diversity.

According to Florida 2030 Research, Military and Defense industries generate approximately $80 billion of Florida’s economic impact and support nearly 775,000 Florida jobs. Florida is currently the 17th largest economy on the planet. To achieve our goal of becoming the 10th by 2030, we must have conversations about how the military and defense industries will play a role in this achievement. How can Florida’s businesses and policymakers support these industries and ensure they are reaching their full potential? Attracting more space companies to Florida and growing the space industry will strengthen our manufacturing sector, grow our defense alliances, and help Florida continue to lead in innovation. Florida must strengthen and improve our already existing success, but we can’t do it alone.

During our 2019 Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit, we will bring Florida’s economic development experts, policymakers, and business community together to examine the challenges and opportunities facing these crucial industries and Florida’s growing veteran population.

Click here for more information on the 2019 Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit.

Florida’s 1.5 Million Veterans Key to a Competitive Workforce

Joe Marino, Executive Director, Veterans Florida

Everything about Florida is changing—our economy, our demographics, our brand, and our own politics.  Our markets are becoming more global, technology and innovation are sweeping through every industry, and our population is growing and becoming more diverse. Florida has the opportunity to take advantage of these changes and become the leading U.S. state in the 21st century—a place marked by global competitiveness, prosperity and high-paying jobs, and vibrant and sustainable communities.

One of the keys to our success and global competitiveness is a strong workforce. According to the Florida 2030 Blueprint, by 2030, we will be home to 26 million residents and will need more than 1.5 million new jobs. As we plan for the future, one of the Florida 2030 goals states that more than 80 percent of Florida’s workforce must have essential employability skills.

Florida’s veterans are a crucial part of our workforce. In our latest Florida Horizon, the Florida Chamber Foundation met with Joe Marino, Executive Director of Veterans Florida to discuss the future of Florida, workforce skills, business talent needs and more. Veterans Florida is a non-profit corporation created by the State of Florida to help veterans transition to civilian life and provides tools for veterans to take advantage of the benefits of living and working in the Sunshine State.

On how Veterans Florida is partnering with businesses around the state to help attract talented veterans:

“We have partnerships, both formal and informal, with the Florida Chamber and the Foundation, Enterprise Florida, CareerSource Florida, and many local EDCs that are around high density veteran population areas. These employers and these organizations understand the value that veterans bring so part of our mission is connecting them all.”

On how Veterans Florida training is a part of workforce development:

“We work with employers who want to hire veterans into high skilled positions. These positions typically pay higher wages and have longer careers and more successful careers. The kinds of employers we work with specifically – we will work with any employer – but the ones we can really help veterans move into are those that have skills where a veteran can easily transfer their skills – whether aerospace, manufacturing, logistics, communications and information technology – particularly cyber — those are the areas that we see the most movement from service into the civilian workforce.”

On the importance of partnerships:

“Everyone in the service has some level of exposure to dealing with the public and understanding rules and how to enforce them, and that comes in very well with law enforcement and understanding teamwork and how to work within that kind of structure and hierarchy.”

“We started a partnership with Citrus County thanks to Sheriff Prendergast who used to be the executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and reached out to us saying we’ve got a very natural fit, let’s work together. We have been able to help them start placing veterans into law enforcement positions in a part of the state that is a great place to work and live.”

Why should businesses hire a veteran?

“Veterans are adaptable, veterans are quick to think, veterans can make decisions with little to no information. It sort of breaks a lot of the stereotypes that people think that veterans only follow orders and march in lock-step.”

“Veterans bring adaptability and all the sorts of things you really need in the modern workforce and the modern economy.”

Why should veterans come to Florida?

“We tell veterans and their families about the quality of life here. The low taxes – because Florida doesn’t have an income tax, we don’t tax military retirement which is a huge issue for veterans who are transitioning out of service. We tell them about the great educational facilities and resources here. Every state college and university has a veteran’s resource center. And when it comes to workforce, if they decide to go to college or they decide to transition straight into a career, you’re going to find those transferable careers in logistics, aerospace, engineering, information technology that they’ve been working on the military already.”

Florida Chamber of Commerce Names Representative Bob Rommel 2019 Most Valuable Legislator

Also Announces 18 Distinguished Advocate Award Recipients

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 20, 2019) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today awarded Representative Bob Rommel with the 2019 Most Valuable Legislator (MVL) award for his leadership in tackling Florida’s ‘Judicial Hellhole’ label. The MVL presentation was made during the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors meeting in Orlando.

The Florida Chamber’s MVL award is the business community’s premier legislative award honoring a single lawmaker for their outstanding legislative leadership and willingness to take a stand for free enterprise.

“Representative Rommel championed and led ending Florida’s lawsuit abuse problem that is costing Florida’s families over $4,000 each year, and has earned Florida an international reputation as a ‘Judicial Hellhole,’” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, in a congratulatory video.

Upon news of the award, Representative Rommel said: “The Florida Chamber’s commitment to make sure Florida’s business community flourishes is unparalleled. I was very proud to work with them this year to advance and enact unprecedented business reform legislation that will unleash Florida entrepreneurs to grow, innovate, and create more jobs. I’m honored to receive this recognition from the Florida Chamber, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”

Additionally, the Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate awards – recognizing lawmakers who fought tirelessly for the passage of pro-business legislation and advanced the Florida Chamber’s goals of securing Florida’s future through job creation and economic development – were announced.

“We’re pleased to recognize members of the Florida Legislature with the Distinguished Advocate awards who had the courage to put free enterprise principles for job creation above special interest,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The 18 members of the Florida Legislature honored with a 2019 Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate award include:


The Florida Chamber also released its annual publication How They Voted – which provides the grades for all 157 legislators so business leaders can see who voted for or against job creation and economic growth.

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Releases 2019 Legislative Report Card

98 Lawmakers Earn A’s and B’s; 59 Earn C’s, D’s, and F’s

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 21, 2019) – Ninety-eight members of the Florida Legislature earned A’s or B’s on the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Legislative Report Card, and helped lower the cost of living and cost of doing business on families and job creators, while also preparing for future growth and protecting Florida’s constitution, the state’s leading voice of business and largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and business association partners announced today.

Many lawmakers earned higher grades this legislative session with their renewed focus on important competitiveness issues like:

  • Property insurance, lawsuit abuse, regulatory and targeted tax reforms,
  • Innovations in healthcare, and high-quality workforce education and apprenticeship programs, and
  • Key smart growth issues like transportation, energy grid hardening, and autonomous and innovations.

The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is an annual opportunity to recognize members of the Florida Legislature who placed making Florida more competitive through private-sector job creation, above special interests and their attempts to protect the status quo.

After tabulating more than 4,000 votes cast during the 2019 Legislative Session, data shows:

  • 98 lawmakers earned an A or B; 59 lawmakers earned a C, D or F.
  • Average GPA for both legislative chambers was 79.37 percent.
  • Senate GPA was 84.59 percent, up from 74 percent in 2018.
  • House GPA was 77.59 percent, down slightly from 79 percent in 2018.

“We believe in transparency and accountability, and the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card is a fantastic tool for families, small businesses, taxpayers and voters to know if their elected officials voted in support of lowering the cost of living and reducing the cost of doing business, while also preparing for Florida’s future,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber’s legislative grading process is both transparent and accountable.

  • The Florida Business Agenda (FBA) was announced during a news conference prior to the 2019 Legislative Session which was attended by bicameral members of the legislature, and dozens of leaders from throughout Florida’s business community.
  • The Florida Business Agenda, outlined in Where We Stand, was hand delivered and mailed to each member of the Florida Legislature.
  • Florida Chamber leadership met with numerous newspaper editorial boards, and legislators and staff in advance of session.
  • Most importantly, prior to each vote graded on the report card, a “Your Vote Matters” letter outlining the pro-business position and the Florida Chamber’s intent to score the vote was transmitted to voting members of the legislature – in total, about 4,000 scored votes letters were transmitted in advance.

Stay Tuned:
The Florida Chamber will soon announce 2019 legislative awards, including Distinguished Advocates and the Florida Chamber’s premier legislative award, the Most Valuable Legislator award. Past winners can be found here.

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Registration Open for Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit


Register     Book Your Hotel    Military & Defense Issue Page


Registration is now open for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2019 Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit. Register today and join leaders from Florida’s military and defense industry, economic development experts, policymakers and the business community  to examine the challenges and opportunities facing this important industry as well as strengthening Florida’s position as the most veteran friendly state.

This year we are extending the length of the Summit to ensure we have time for more in-depth discussions. Click here to view the FloridaWins.org video on the future of Military, Defense and Veterans, and highlights from a previous Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit.

Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit
August 13-14, 2019
Hyatt Regency Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Florida

For information on sponsorship opportunities contact Aaron Kinnon at akinnon@FlFoundation.org

Supporting Florida’s Veterans, Defense and Military Industry


Download One Pager    Learn More About Military and Defense


Why It Matters to Florida

From small, family owned industries to multi-national corporations, Florida wins when private-sector job growth aligns with employer needs. Florida’s well-rounded military and defense industry creates highly-trained, highlyskilled workers each and every day. Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation at more than 1.5 million — 14 percent of the Sunshine State’s population. In fact, nearly one in every 10 Floridians is a veteran and Florida’s military and defense industry is the fourth largest contributor to Florida’s economy.

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

Championing Florida’s valuable veteran population by advocating for our state’s military and defense industry and opposing cuts that disproportionately impact Florida’s economy will allow Florida’s 20 active military bases and three combatant command centers, and Florida’s defense contractors to provide valuable high-wage jobs and grow Florida’s economy. In an effort to lead the nation in defense and cybersecurity, the Florida Chamber of Commerce supports initiatives and policies that protect Florida’s businesses and strengthens Florida’s defenses both on land and online.

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

Florida’s military and defense industry helps employ nearly 775,000 Floridians each year and contributes almost $80 billion to our economy. Our state is also home to more than 20 military bases and three combatant command centers. The Florida Chamber will continue to support efforts to keep Florida the most military and veteran-friendly state by supporting efforts that protect from the next round of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure).

Act Now

Join our fight to protect our active military and defense industry. Florida wins when we stay the course toward free enterprise and support our state’s veterans.

Making Florida More Competitive is Essential for Jobs and Economic Growth


Watch Our News Conference     Download Where We Stand


The 2019 Legislative Session begins in earnest next week, and as we prepare to enter this 60-day event, we are reminded that choices matter. The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual jobs and competitiveness policy agenda, commonly referred to as the Florida Business Agenda, is a set of priorities that will help grow private sector jobs, continue to create economic opportunity in Florida and further diversify our economy.

Year after year, the Florida Chamber has been on the front lines of solving issues that impact the competitiveness and future of Florida’s business climate. While time passes, our focus remains the same – to be the driving force in uniting Florida’s business community, creating economic opportunities and growing private-sector jobs.

In many ways, Florida is moving in the right direction; but the truth is, things are fragile. Political inaction and uncertainty, changing demographics and unprecedented amounts of out-of-state special interests pose a threat to Florida’s sustainability and competitiveness.

Making Florida more competitive is essential for economic growth and job creation, which is why the Florida Chamber is calling on lawmakers to reduce the cost of living, reduce the cost of doing business and to prepare for Florida’s future growth.

For more than eight years, Florida has outpaced the U.S. economy in job growth. Growing at just under 900 new residents daily, Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish predicts that Florida will create 150,000 new jobs in 2019 and that the Sunshine State has a very low probability of recession.

I’ve often said that if Florida was a stock, I’d buy all the stock I could. While Florida’s economic outlook for 2019 is positive, it’s not without risks, which is why passing the Florida Chamber’s Jobs Agenda is so important.


Reducing the Cost of Living

When it comes to reducing the cost of living, the Florida Legislature should put consumers ahead of trial lawyers and finally end Assignment of Benefits (AOB) scams that the Wall Street Journal and others have consistently written about. I encourage you to learn more about AOB fraud and abuse by reading this Pensacola News Journal article that Harold Kim, COO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform and I recently published.


Lowering the Cost of Doing Business

To lower the cost of doing business, lawmakers must fix Florida’s broken lawsuit climate. Florida’s bottom-five legal climate translates to a $4,442 tax on Florida families. Click here to see what leaders from Allstate, Safelite, People’s Trust Insurance, and Ron Jon Surf Shop have to say about Florida’s “judicial hellhole.”


Preparing for Future Growth

With 26 million people expected to call Florida home by 2030, and three million more drivers on our roads, it’s important that Florida’s infrastructure is prepared for this future growth. Therefore the Florida Chamber and its Infrastructure Coalition recommend that lawmakers champion innovations and adequate funding in all modes of transportation, secure affordable, efficient and sustainable energy solutions, champion long-term, sustainable water and environmental policies and ensure proactive economic planning and development.

Further, preparing for future growth also means ensuring that we have a qualified workforce to close the talent gap. That’s why we will again encourage the legislature to prepare Florida’s workforce to address the skills gap, and improve attainment and access to higher education and post-secondary learning.

2019 Florida Business Agenda

During last week’s 2019 Legislative Fly-In we had the opportunity to share your 2019 Florida Business Agenda with Governor Ron DeSantis and members of the Florida Legislature, the Cabinet and state agency leaders. Chief among guest speakers were Governor DeSantis, who hosted Legislative Fly-In attendees at a reception at the Governor’s Mansion, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson, Florida Department of Transportation Senior Policy Advisor Doug Callaway, Representative Chris Sprowls and Senators Wilton Simpson and Joe Gruters.

Each week during the legislative session, you’ll receive the Florida Chamber’s Weekly Legislative Update and learn the latest on how the Florida Business Agenda is fairing. When important “pro-biz” votes are scheduled, we’ll reach out and encourage you to share your support with lawmakers. And when there are bad “no-biz” bills that may force additional employer mandates on job creators, we’ll be there to push back against those who want free enterprise to fail.

Thank you for your support of free enterprise and in us.

Danny Burgess Confirmed to Lead Florida’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs

On January 24, former Representative and Florida Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Advocate Award recipient Danny Burgess was unanimously approved as the new executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA).

Burgess earned the Distinguished Advocate Award in 2017 for his work on pro-jobs legislation while serving in the Florida House of Representatives. While in the legislature, he served on the House Veteran & Military Affairs Subcommittee and was a leader on military, defense and veterans’ issues.

“In order to continue Florida’s economic momentum, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is committed to ensuring Florida remains the most veteran-friendly state in the union,” said Frank Walker, Vice President of Government Affairs. “As a veteran himself, Danny Burgess will bring the same tireless enthusiasm for advancing the cause of our veterans as he did to bettering Florida’s business climate while in the legislature. Danny is the embodiment of a servant leader and we look forward to continuing our partnership with him in his new role.”

Burgess is a veteran of the United States Army and has held the title of Reserve Captain since 2012. Outside of the legislature, Burgess worked as an attorney in his native Pasco County.

“Danny’s commitment to our nation and especially to Florida’s veteran community make him the perfect fit,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement.

The Florida Chamber proudly welcomes Burgess back to Tallahassee in his new position at the VA.

Engage With Us

  1. Register for the Florida Chamber’s annual Legislative Fly-In, where business leaders will engage with elected officials and learn details about the upcoming Legislative Session.
  2. Register for the Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit to engage with military leaders, industry experts, elected officials and business leaders on the future of Florida’s military, defense and veterans. Click here to learn more.