Governor DeSantis’s Legislative Affairs Director Stephanie Kopelousos Shares Insights on EFI, Legal Reform & VISIT FLORIDA on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

TALLAHASSEE, FL (February 12, 2020) – When Governor Ron DeSantis outlined his 2020 legislative priorities during his annual State of the State speech just five weeks ago, he encouraged lawmakers to continue improving on Florida’s bottom-five legal environment by passing meaningful lawsuit abuse reforms.

On the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Stephanie Kopelousos, Legislative Affairs Director for Governor Ron DeSantis explains why it’s important to improve on Florida’s bottom-five legal climate.

“I think you see legislation this session that are going through that I think will make a difference. But the Governor’s made it a clear priority, just look at how many judicial appointments he’s made in really trying to get us from the bottom – we are at the bottom – in making that climate better for Floridians,” Kopelousos says.

Additionally, with a budget battle brewing between the House and Senate, Kopelousos explains why it’s important for the legislature to invest, as Governor DeSantis has recommended, in Florida’s tourism marketing and economic development programs by funding VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida, Inc.

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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.

Diversifying Florida’s Economy

 

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Why It Matters to Florida

Diversifying Florida’s economy is key to creating jobs and opportunities. To do so, the Florida Chamber will continue to build our core industries, tourism, agriculture, and construction while diversifying Florida’s economy into next generation targeted industries. We must continue to attract growing and innovative industries and new technologies that will allow Florida to lead the way in high-skill, high-wage job creation. Florida wins when we continue to diversify our base of job creators and work to attract and grow targeted high-wage industries.

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

  • Diversifying Our Economy and Creating Jobs through Economic Development
    The Florida Chamber supports the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund and other improvements to EFI, which will ensure we continue to diversify and improve Florida’s business climate by investing in workforce development and infrastructure.
  • Championing Rural Business Opportunities
    In order to double the rural county share of Florida gross domestic product by 2030, Florida must continue to provide resources and assistance to Rural Areas of Opportunity and other rural counties and continue to advance economic development opportunities.
  • Fostering Innovation by Growing Targeted Industries
    The Florida Chamber supports projects that will diversify Florida’s economy and attract businesses through innovations in technology, research, and development and public-private partnerships.

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

Florida continues to move in the right direction by growing private-sector jobs, expanding new industries and strengthening international trade and logistics relationships. But our work is far from over. The Florida Chamber believes a globally competitive business climate helps businesses and families succeed.

Act Now

When we stay the course of creating a diverse and globally competitive economy, Florida wins. Join our fight to secure Florida’s future.

EFI Partners with Manufacturing Associations to Help Local Companies Grow

Originally Published in Florida Trend

Today, Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) announced two new partnerships to assist small and medium-sized Florida manufacturers. EFI signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with the Manufacturing Association of Central Florida (MACF) and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast Manufacturing Association (MASC). These partnerships will provide Florida businesses with additional resources and grant opportunities to help develop and expand their international markets.

“Enterprise Florida is thrilled to partner with the Manufacturing Associations of Central Florida and the Space Coast,” said Manny Mencia, senior vice president of international trade and development. “We look forward to helping more Florida manufacturers expand internationally and grow their client base.”

“MACF is excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Enterprise Florida to promote, expand, and grow Central Florida manufacturing to markets across the globe,” said Sherry Reeves, Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of Central Florida. “This strategic partnership will create new opportunities and add value to our manufacturing membership.”

 

Click here to read the complete article.

Florida’s $10 Billion in Tax Advantages Getting National Attention

As President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, I’ve been interviewed in the past two months by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and several other news outlets and they all want to know the same thing- what are the significant tax advantages in Florida and what is the Florida Chamber doing to prepare for the expected job growth headed our way?

Thanks in large part to national tax reform, Governor Scott’s leadership and focus on jobs, and thanks to marketing by Pete Antonocci and our teammates at Enterprise Florida, Inc., leaders in other states are realizing the tax advantages of moving their families and businesses to Florida.

Following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employers nationwide announced pay raises, bonuses, lower prices, capital investments and more, due to the resulting benefits from federal tax reform. One would think this push to make America more competitive would be met with significant fanfare from all political stripes, but this has not been the case in certain states.  Here are a few actual examples of what other states are doing:

  • In California, two Assemblymen sought to punish businesses benefiting from federal tax reform by introducing a constitutional amendment that creates a new 10 percent tax on companies that have net earnings of more than one million dollars.
  • A group of Northeastern states, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut, are planning to sue the federal government, claiming the federal tax bill “unfairly targets” high-tax states because of caps to state and local deductions, ignoring that their tax codes and economic models are the reason for their significant tax bill.

Unfortunately, politicians in high-tax states also have no issue with taxpayers in Florida and the rest of the nation subsidizing their state’s spending. This “Robin Hood”-type scheme is being exposed for what it really is – a failed tax and spend scheme.

Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish shares in his latest edition of By The Numbers, that $879,000 in income migrates to Florida every hour. Many high-tax states in the northeast are losing residents to Florida. In fact, 88,500 net new people in one year have moved to Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania alone.

Florida’s leaders know that a competitive tax climate increases corporate investment and creates jobs, and with 26 million people expected to call Florida home by 2030, two million net new jobs will need to be created in order to keep unemployment below five percent. This is one reason Forbes has listed Florida as the number one state for growth.

Not only does Florida have no personal state income tax, it has cut taxes and fees by $10 billion since 2010 and has created nearly 1.5 million private sector jobs -outpacing the nation in job growth. Furthermore, Dr. Parrish now predicts Florida will be a $1 trillion economy by the end of 2018.

Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is doing a good job marketing Florida’s friendly business climate and promoting the advantages of Florida. The Florida Chamber was pleased to partner with EFI to highlight why now is the right time for businesses in other states to move to Florida. Click here to see the Wall Street Journal ad campaign.

Yet, despite having the most pro-jobs governor in America, in the recently completed legislative session, lawmakers made Florida a little more expensive for families and Florida a little less competitive for businesses.

I’m so proud of the Florida Chamber’s team of advocates for stopping more than a dozen bad ideas from becoming law this past session. These bills would have increased employer mandates, implemented overreaching regulations and further worsened Florida’s troubling lawsuit abuse climate.

What Others Are Saying

Business leaders across Florida recognize the unique opportunity that Florida has to further grow jobs and create economic prosperity for all.

  • Dr. Jackson Sasser, President of Santa Fe College and the Florida Chamber’s North Central Florida Regional Board Chair recently spoke about the importance of economic development – and the important role education plays – during a recent edition of the Florida Chamber’s Series on Free Enterprise.
  • Representative Clay Ingram discussed how infrastructure and tourism investments play a role in Florida’s economic development, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.
  • Husein Cumber, Executive Vice President of Florida East Coast Industries and Florida Chamber Northeast Regional Board Chair, was featured in the Florida Times Union sharing his support of Florida’s growing economy, and the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund which is helping transform Florida’s economy into next generation targeted industries.

While we’re looking forward to working with future legislative leadership, the Florida Chamber looks forward to ensuring candidates that believe in jobs and growing the economy are elected this fall.

Following a year in which sitting lawmakers earned the lowest grades in the history of the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card, there is simply no time to waste in electing candidates that want to see Florida succeed.

 

Join the Conversation at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity

Thank you for your strong support of the Florida Chamber. I look forward to working with you to ensure we continue to secure Florida’s future. If you have not yet registered for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity on May 3 in Orlando, click here.

We Don’t Like Cold Weather or High Taxes. That’s Why We Live in Florida

If you’ve been thinking about moving your business and your family to Florida, the new federal tax law and our work to make Florida business-friendly has made relocating to Florida a better deal than ever before.

See the below advertisement that appeared in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend.

Did You Know?

The newly-passed federal tax reform bill is making Florida’s already business-friendly climate an even more appealing tax shelter than ever before. See what others are saying.

The Florida Chamber encourages you to join the fight to secure Florida’s future. Consider calling companies looking to expand and grow in all the states Florida is welcoming wealth from. Invite them to look at the additional advantages Florida now has after the new tax package.

Legislative Agenda Puts Jobs, Growth and Economic Opportunity in the Driver Seat

 

Urges Lawmakers to Put Florida’s Long-Term Competitiveness Ahead of Short-Term Political Fixes

TALLAHASSEE (November 17, 2015) – As the Florida Chamber enters its 100th year of fighting for business, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its 2016 Competitiveness Agenda – a comprehensive legislative agenda that focuses resources and expertise to advance jobs, growth and greater economic opportunities for Floridians. Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda builds on 104 pro-jobs bills passed and signed into law in the last five years, and is helping position Florida to be America’s number one private sector job creator.

Although there are more than 30 scored items in the 2016 agenda, here is a sample of what will make Florida more competitive:

  • A tax climate that helps generate job growth (we support a $1 billion cut),
  • A talented workforce to fill those jobs (continued education reform),
  • A diversified economy, and further improving Florida’s business climate (we support the $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund and other improvements to EFI),
  • A quality of life that includes science-based water policy, and
  • Smarter healthcare outcomes through transparency, competition and ending the cost shift.

Looking at Florida’s economic horizon, it’s clear Florida is making positive strides. More than 941,000 private-sector jobs have been created since Governor Rick Scott was first elected, approximately 3,000 regulations have been eliminated or improved, more than one billion in taxes have been cut, and Florida’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in seven years.

Looking forward, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish projects that by December, Florida will have created one million net new private-sector jobs since Governor Scott was elected, and he projects that Florida will create 220,000 new jobs in 2016.

“While Florida is moving in the right direction, now is not the time to be complacent,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Florida is in competition for private-sector jobs with other states, and therefore we must ensure a tax and business climate that is welcoming to job growth, ensure that we have a talented workforce to fill those jobs, ensure that Florida’s quality of life provides sustainable water resource solutions and that we lower the cost of healthcare through better outcomes. Now is the time to put Florida’s long-term economic security ahead of short-term political fixes.”

Based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business from 2015, the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda is a blueprint of legislative priorities that it will lobby, track and score this Legislative Session.

LOWERING THE COST OF LIVING ON FLORIDA FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES

To lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business, the Florida Chamber recommends approximately one billion dollars in targeted tax cuts as follows:

  • Phasing out the Business Rent Tax (taxes on commercial leases),
  • Continuing to phase out the corporate income tax,
  •  Permanently eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment, and
  • Supporting sales tax holidays on back-to-school items and hurricane preparedness.

CHAMPIONING A TALENTED WORKFORCE TO FILL JOBS

Talent is the new economic development currency. A quality education is the best way to ensure students can compete in a global economy, and therefore the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Staying the course on school grades, and issuing school grades this year, and
  • Providing educational opportunities and economic independence for individuals with unique abilities.

DIVERSIFYING FLORIDA’S ECONOMY & IMPROVING FLORIDA’S BUSINESS CLIMATE

To build the perfect business climate, the Florida Chamber recommends:

  • Investing in Florida’s Enterprise Fund,
  • Fixing Florida’s broken legal system by addressing Assignment of Benefits and Fair Settlement lawsuit abuses, and
  • Engaging a workers’ comp legislative solution if the Florida Supreme Court rules against job creators and in favor of trial lawyers in pending court cases.

SECURING FLORIDA’S WATER FUTURE

To secure Florida’s water future, and avoid California’s mistakes, the Florida Chamber recommends science-based water policy that will:

  • Help ensure a clean and abundant water supply,
  • Reduce the prospect of “water wars” among users in resource-limited areas, and
  • Promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sector in achieving water resource development goals.

LOWERING THE COST OF HEALTHCARE

Whether or not the legislature expands Medicaid, the Florida Chamber recommends reducing the cost of healthcare by:

  • Greater transparency – whether pricing outcomes or value of procedures or facilities – provides greater competition and is a win for Florida families,
  • Eliminating healthcare fraud and abuse through innovative practices and technologies,
  • Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative healthcare delivery system to increase capacity, deliver high quality of care and control costs, and
  • Increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential.

 

A complete listing of the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda which outlines more than 30 priorities the Florida Chamber will be lobbying, tracking and scoring this Legislative Session, is outlined in Where We Stand and available at www.FloridaChamber.com.

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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 Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Urge Senators to Fund International Programs

With the Florida Legislative Special Session underway, the Florida Chamber needs your help to advocate for funding for Florida’s international program. This program, ran through Enterprise Florida (EFI), helps small and medium-sized businesses enter or expand into the international market through training and grants.

At the conclusion of the regular session, the House had increased EFI’s international program by $1 million.  The Florida Chamber needs your help to request the Senate to match the House’s budget.

Click the button below to send your Senator an email urging them to consider matching the House’s EFI international program funding proposal.

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Why is This Funding Request Important?

80% of global purchasing power, 92% of economic growth, and 95% of consumers are outside of the USA. Enterprise Florida’s international program helps businesses wishing to expand or enter the international marketplace with marketing plans, counseling, and funding.

The benefits to small and medium businesses that export are significant:

  • Exporting companies have higher employment growth than non-exporting companies
    Fluctuations in the economy impact companies that export less
  • Wages in exporting companies are higher by about 15 percent compared to wages in companies that don’t export

Contact Your Senator Now

Click the button below to send your Senator an email urging them to consider matching the House’s EFI international program funding proposal.

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Urge Key Legislators to Support Florida’s Economic Development Programs

“Your opinion matters…it’s important your elected officials hear from you now, more than ever.”

–  David Hart, Florida Chamber Executive Vice President

The Florida Legislature is poised to start finalizing the budget as early as tomorrow morning. Contact these six key legislators to advocate your support for Florida’s economic development programs. This includes fully funding the economic development toolkit, funding $20 million to market Florida’s business climate across the country, and $1 million for international business start-up programs.

Florida’s Economic Toolkit

The economic toolkit funds all competitive incentives and is used to attract and retain businesses in Florida in several high-wage, high-skilled industries. These incentives include the Quick Action Closing Fund, the Capital Investment Tax Credit, the Brownfields Tax Credit, and others.

Why Does It Matter?

These incentives give Florida a competitive advantage when targeting businesses to our state, or preventing existing businesses from leaving our state. Now is the time to ask the Florida Legislature to fully fund Florida’s economic development toolkit to keep Florida competitive.

Marketing Florida’s Business Climate

Florida currently spends $0 telling Florida’s success story to businesses in other states, while California spends $50 million and New York is in the middle of a $200 million ad campaign. Now is the ideal time to urge key lawmakers in your region to invest $20 million to “Market Florida.”

Why Does It Matter?

Growing Florida’s economy means attracting innovate and diverse businesses to Florida- which helps create jobs and opportunities.

Enterprise Florida’s International Program

EFI’s international program helps small and medium-sized businesses enter or expand into the international market through training and grants. At the conclusion of the regular session, the Florida House had increased EFI’s international program by $1 million. The Florida Chamber needs your help to request the Florida Senate match the House’s budget.

Why Does It Matter?

Two out of three businesses in Florida are small businesses and out of the more than 60,000 Florida exporters, 95 percent are small to mid-sized businesses.

Take Action Now

Contact these key legislators and advocate your support for Florida’s economic development programs.

 

Bill Johnson Takes Over as CEO of Enterprise Florida

By: Kevin Derby
Bill Johnson, well-known throughout the Sunshine State for his leadership of Miami’s port, was chosen on Thursday to replace outgoing state Commerce Secretary Gray Swoope as CEO of Enterprise Florida, the public-private partnership focused on expanding economic development. After leaving PortMiami, Johnson took over as director of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department.

Named by the Enterprise Florida board during its meeting in Tallahassee on Thursday. Johnson starts his new post on March 1. Speaking to the board, Johnson vowed to lead economic development efforts across the state

“I am thrilled that the Enterprise Florida board has voted for Bill Johnson to become the new executive director, Scott said. “For over 30 years, he has worked with local, state and federal officials to get projects done in Florida to benefit our families -– and I know he will continue to work with elected leaders at all levels of government to bring more opportunities to Florida and ensure we continue to win job creation projects.

“Bill did a stellar job running PortMiami — one of the nation’s top container cargo ports and the busiest cruise port in the world — and has overseen the massive Deep Dredge project which will generate around 30,000 jobs in our state,” Scott added. “His vision to expand and grow PortMiami will allow Florida to take advantage of increased trade opportunities with global markets and enable our state to grow as the leading hub for trade and logistics. Bill has a clear record of creating opportunities in our state and is laser-focused on our goal to make Florida the global destination for jobs. I am confident he will help us on our mission to beat Texas to become the No. 1 state for job creation.”

Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, praised Johnson who had been on that organization’s board, insisting the new hire would help Scott bring new jobs to the Sunshine State.

“Thanks to Gov. Scott and Enterprise Florida’s effort to promote Florida’s business climate, companies like Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Deutsche Bank, Embraer, GE, Hertz, Lockheed Martin, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, Darden, USAA, United Technologies Corp. and Verizon and more have either located or expanded in Florida, creating thousands of jobs and economic opportunities,” said Wilson. “With Bill Johnson at the helm of Enterprise Florida, the Florida Chamber is confident Florida will remain competitive in its efforts to secure new private-sector jobs.”

Florida Chamber Congratulates Former Chamber Board Member Bill Johnson on Being Selected as New Enterprise Florida President and Florida’s Secretary of Commerce

Trade and Logistics Leader Will Create Opportunities for Florida’s Families and Job Creators

Florida Chamber Congratulates Former Chamber Board Member Bill Johnson on Being Selected as New Enterprise Florida President and Florida’s Secretary of Commerce

Trade and logistics leader will create opportunities for Florida’s families and job creators

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is pleased to share that today, Governor Rick Scott appointed Bill Johnson as Florida’s new Secretary of Commerce and President of Enterprise Florida- Florida’s economic development organization. Bill succeeds Gray Swoope who recently announced his resignation, and plans to join the private sector.

The Florida Chamber welcomes Bill, a former Florida Chamber Board of Director member, and former Director of PortMiami, and we say thank you to Gray for his exemplary leadership during his four-year term at Enterprise Florida.

“Thanks to Governor Scott and Enterprise Florida’s effort to promote Florida’s business climate, companies like Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Deutsche Bank, Embraer, GE, Hertz, Lockheed Martin, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, Darden, USAA, United Technologies Corporation and Verizon and more have either located or expanded in Florida- creating thousands of jobs and economic opportunities,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “With Bill Johnson at the helm of Enterprise Florida, the Florida Chamber is confident Florida will remain competitive in its efforts to secure new private-sector jobs.”

In the early 1990’s, the Florida Chamber Foundation recommended the creation of Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI) as a public private partnership organization to place economic development and international trade at the helm of its mission and work in bringing jobs to Florida. Several years later, the Florida Chamber of Commerce led the effort to formally create Enterprise Florida in 1996.

As a member of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors, Bill Johnson was laser focused on helping ensure Florida becomes a global hub for international trade and exports.

“Through key infrastructure investments and business development, the Florida Chamber has set an aggressive state goal of doubling trade exports.” – Bill Johnson

“The Florida Chamber’s Trade and Logistics Study is the most insightful and actionable economic impact study and I have had the privilege of reading.” – Bill Johnson

Did You Know:

Enterprise Florida has seven trade offices around Florida and 15 international offices in 13 countries? International business accounts for 17 percent of Florida’s economy, and Florida has the second highest number of exports in the U.S., many of which are small businesses.

Join Us:

Register to attend the Florida Chamber Board of Governors Capitol Days March 4-6 in Tallahassee as Bill Johnson leads a panel discussion on more opportunities for global competitive growth. CEOs, small business leaders, local chamber executives and elected officials from across the state will gather to discuss Florida’s transitioning economy and top business priorities for the 2015 legislative session.

The Florida Chamber again congratulates Bill Johnson. We look forward to continuing to make Florida more competitive.