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Florida Chamber Continues Delivering Against 6-year Strategic Plan, Adds Horsepower with Three New Hires

The Executive Team at the Florida Chamber continues to be focused and intentional about the work being done toward accomplishing the goals of our 6-year, $105 million strategic plan and the continued talent acquisition necessary to achieve our mission.

With that in mind, today we are announcing the continued growth of the Florida Chamber enterprise with the addition of three team members who will bring insight, analysis, experience and additional horsepower to our already strong organization. After concluding national searches, Dr. Ben Tabatabaei has been named our Chief Economist and Executive Director of the Florida Chamber’s International Center for Economic Development, Dave Sobush, CEcD as Director of Research for the Florida Chamber Foundation and Alex Coelho as Director of Data and Analytics for the Florida Chamber.

“The Florida Chamber team is laser-focused on executing our strategic plan and executing a calculated talent strategy that is setting us up to advance our mission, further unite business leaders and secure Florida’s future the right way,” said, Chas Bailes, III, Chairman & CEO, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Florida Chamber Board Chair.

Dr. Ben Tabatabaei recently relocated from California to be part of Florida’s growth and contribute to free enterprise. His more than 20-year track record of extensive economic and policy expertise includes:

• International Business Economist, who has advised US policy makers on economic development and foreign policy issues. He has also counseled private companies as well as foreign governments on strategic investments, public relations, and economic development.
• Counterintelligence and Business Intelligence consultant on global threats against the US homeland.
• Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.
• Graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a PhD in International Political Economy and Public Policy and also holds an MA in Economics and an MA in Political Economy and Public Policy.

“Having studied and lectured extensively about non-democratic systems of governance which exert a great deal of control over their economy, I have seen how devastating this has been to lives of ordinary people. It has caused lack luster economic growth, endemic corruption, and environmental degradation. My work as an International Business Economist has solidified for me the importance of democratic norms, free enterprise and protecting that freedom at all costs, because ultimately the lives and happiness of hardworking ordinary people do matter,” said Dr. Ben Tabatabaei, Chief Economist, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In his role, Dr. Tabatabaei will be working with Florida’s leading job creators and policymakers on understanding and leveraging economic and demographic trends in Florida, opportunities for international trade and logistics and providing exclusive executive economic briefings for our Board of Governors members.

Additionally, Dr. Tabatabaei will head up the Florida Chamber’s International Center for Economic Development focused on advocating for free enterprise on a global stage, expanding trade with Florida’s key and emerging trading partners, increasing foreign direct investment, boosting exports, and growing manufacturing and infrastructure to continue positioning Florida as a global economic powerhouse.

“International trade is an essential part of Florida’s economy,” said Bob Grammig, Partner with Holland & Knight and Florida Chamber International Committee Chair. “The Florida Chamber is one of the foremost organizations in driving international trade in Florida and adding Dr. Tabatabaei’s expertise to our staff will continue to keep Florida competitive on the global stage.”

Dave Sobush is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) with two decades of economic development research and project management experience including:

• Senior Director of Policy and Research at the Tampa Bay Partnership leveraging data analysis, planning and reporting, coordinating with outside agencies, and development and implementation of recommendations to enhance prosperity and economic competitiveness throughout the Tampa Bay region.
• Business Development Manager for Pinellas County Economic Development, promoting business attraction, retention and expansion programs for the Aviation/Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Optics/Photonics, and Information Technology industry clusters, managing projects resulting in more than 4,500 new and retained high-wage jobs, including the high-profile retention of a Fortune 250 headquarters.
• Research positions at Hillsborough County, the City of St. Petersburg and as a faculty member of the USF’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR).
• MBA from University of South Florida, and a M.Ed. and a BA from University of Florida, and has been active with the International Economic Development Council, Florida Economic Development Council, and National Association for Business Economics.

As Director of Research for the Florida Chamber Foundation, Dave will oversee the Foundation’s numerous research projects, The Florida and head up the Florida 2030 Blueprint Caucus to continue uniting the business community on strategic alignment with trade associations, local chambers and business groups focused on growing Florida the right way. He will provide economic analysis to our local chambers, economic developers and other key members and partners.

“The addition of a Certified Economic Developer to the team will help propel the Chamber Foundation to even greater heights and bring to our members a unique perspective and expertise on how to continue moving the needle in our state,” said Susan Towler, Vice President of the Florida Blue Foundation and Chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Alex Coelho brings over a decade of political and analytic experience from across the country including:

• Data director for a Florida gubernatorial campaign as well as multiple state parties throughout the nation, with a focus on voter targeting, polling analysis, and database management.
• Specializes in identifying and understanding developing trends amongst populations and demographic groups, providing critical insight into the opportunities and challenges facing organizations well before they materialize.
• Graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

As Director of Data and Analytics for the Florida Chamber, Alex will provide Florida job creators analysis on key competitiveness issues and trends, voter attitudes, demographic changes, the evolving electorate and more. He will oversee Chamber initiatives such as ChamberHub (the Florida Chamber’s exclusive voter file) and the Partisan Performance Index. Alex will also be available to our members to provide deep dives into the newly formed districts and their impact on Florida’s future.

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