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


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


‘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


Series on Free Enterprise: Mayo Clinic Helping Those Seeking “Hope & Healing”


Healthcare     Economic & Jobs Outlook Summit


Mayo Clinic Helping Those Seeking “Hope & Healing”

In our latest Series on Free Enterprise podcast we sat down with Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, the outgoing CEO of Mayo Clinic of Florida, who was recently selected as the CEO of Mayo Clinic’s nationwide operations.

Dr. Farrugia discussed the impact healthcare innovations have on Florida’s economy and international competitiveness, future innovations at Mayo Clinic, the cost of healthcare, and most importantly the need to raise the standard of care for every patient.

“Mayo [Clinic] is really proud to be part of a vibrant Jacksonville community, we are very focused on the needs of the patients who need us the most,” said Dr. Farrugia “Most patients come to us who seek hope and healing for really complex medical problems and they often come to us after spending months or even years seeking health care elsewhere.”

To listen to the full podcast with Dr. Gianrico Farrugia click below.


Is Florida Ready for Growth?

Learn what industries are growing and how Florida will continue to create jobs in 2019 at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2019 Economic & Jobs Outlook Summit, January 14, 2019. Register today!

Series on Free Enterprise: A Conversation with Chris Coan, Gas South


Growth & Infrastructure Summit


Gas South: A “Fuel for Good”

According to research from the Florida Chamber Foundation, Florida will need 76 percent more energy to support the 26 million people calling Florida home by 2030. In the latest Series on Free Enterprise podcast, we sat down with Chris Coan, Vice President and General Manager of Business and General Markets at Gas South, to discuss what makes Florida different in term of energy and natural gas choices and the multiple partnerships that help keep Florida moving forward.

“At Gas South we are a purpose driven company, and our purpose is to be a fuel for good, and part of being a fuel for good is for Gas South to elevate and help the industries that we serve.”

Click below to listen to the full interview with Chris Coan.



Are Florida’s Infrastructure Systems Ready for 2030?

Join statewide leaders at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2018 Growth & Infrastructure Summit, December 11, 2018 to discuss Florida’s current and future infrastructure needs and how Florida can prepare for a growing population.

Series on Free Enterprise: Orlando Magic


2030 Rollouts


‘Free Enterprise Helps Make Lives Better’ – Alex Martins, Orlando Magic CEO

In the latest edition of the Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise, Alex Martins, CEO of the Orlando Magic, discusses new developments in downtown Orlando, the importance of community, and the future of autonomous transportation.

“We have really focused over the years on not just playing basketball games and providing entertainment, but being a catalyst for improvement overall for our community,” said Martins. “The Amway Center itself sits in the Parramore neighborhood of downtown Orlando, an underserved community that we as an organization have invested in significantly.”

Click below to listen to the full interview with Alex Martins.


Join Us For a Florida 2030 Statewide Rollout

Are you interested in what your region needs to succeed from now until 2030? Join the Florida Chamber Foundation at one of 12 regional meetings across the state. Click here to see when we will be in the Orlando area.


Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise: Beth Kigel

“We have to view ourselves as being in a global economy. In order to be globally competitive, we actually need to get mobility right.”

Beth Kigel, President and CEO of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce

Click the audio below to hear the full interview.


As part of the Florida 2030 initiative, the Florida Chamber Foundation has traveled to all 67 counties in Florida and has heard from more than 10,000 Floridians on the issues that matter to them.

In a recent interview, Secretary of the Florida Transportation Commission, and President and CEO of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce Beth Kigel shares her thoughts on what businesses in her region feel Florida needs to get right for 2030 and beyond.

We have to view ourselves as being in a global economy. In order to be globally competitive, we actually need to get mobility right.

As we grow, we really need to be efficient and innovative and in this global innovation economy that we’ve got going right now, we really also need to prepare our current and future workforce for the jobs that it’ll create and those that it might replace.

The Florida 2030 initiative (the next part of the Chamber Foundation’s well-known Cornerstone report series) is driven by the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Six Pillars, a visioning platform that identifies the key factors that drive Florida’s future economy and helps organizations speak with one voice. Communities, regional planning councils and state agencies from around Florida are currently using the Six Pillars framework to guide their planning, research and advocacy efforts, including the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.

The Six Pillars have been really important to us. The Florida Chamber Foundation uses processes that are really inclusive and comprehensive. The [Chamber] Foundation really doesn’t leave any stone unturned in terms of topics –whether its early learning, the changing demographics or our population or environmental issues – and the same goes for the Foundation’s outreach to stakeholders. All stakeholders really, regardless of the sector they represent, have an opportunity to participate. And this collaborative and comprehensive approach really inspired how our chamber approached our five year strategic plan, which has been readily accepted by our diverse set of stakeholders… just as the Florida Chamber utilizes the Six Pillars Framework in order to determine legislative priorities, we utilize our strategic plan in the same way.

We’ve also been inspired by the fact that the [Chamber] Foundation’s approach has garnered respect from Florida’s policy and lawmakers and inspires them to take action. So we’ve found that by adopting that philosophy as well we see the same results in Palm Beach North.

Part of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s mission includes non-partisan research that identifies the needs for Florida’s future, meant to guide and inform each part of our state. From the Florida Chamber Foundation’s initial report in 1989 that led to the creation of Enterprise Florida, to the 2017 Less Poverty Through More Prosperity report, Palm Beach North also utilizes the data, metrics and reports released by the Florida Chamber Foundation.

Given the quality and the depth of the Chamber Foundation’s reports, we turn to those first to gather key data for initiatives that we pursue. For example, the Trade and Logistics 1.0 and 2.0 studies combined were a great foundation to get our Palm Beach North logistics initiative kick-started. Both because it provided a great baseline education on the possibilities and because it provided credibility that Florida is committed to growing the industries related to logistics and views that as an imperative to being competitive in the global economy. We also utilized the Florida Jobs 2030 report as a validation of the types of workforce gaps that exist now and those that’ll exist in the future if we don’t plan and execute appropriately.


Syd Kitson, New Florida Chamber Chair, Will Help Make Florida More Competitive

For the last 100 years, the Florida Chamber has focused its agenda on one simple and powerful idea: free enterprise. We have made it our mission to unite with business leaders who believe in free enterprise principles, who have Florida’s long-term future in mind and who want to actively help secure Florida’s future. This is why we are proud to announce that Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners, has been elected as the 2016-2017 Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors.

Click the image above to hear Syd Kitson share his thoughts on Florida’s future on the Florida Chamber’s most recent edition of The Bottom Line.


Syd Kitson’s leadership in the creation, development and management of master-planned communities like Babcock Ranch in Southwest Florida makes him a forward thinking leader who can help keep Florida moving in the right direction. Kitson is an advocate for free enterprise and believes that entrepreneurialism will help ensure Florida’s diverse communities can unite under an integrated business agenda. But more than that, he is an advocate for businesses in every part of our state, at every size, and at every stage of their development.

As a leader in Florida’s business community, Kitson realizes the importance of Florida businesses creating 1 in 10 jobs in the nation. He is also very aware of the real challenges and issues that could harm Florida businesses, issues like harmful workers’ comp rate hikes, or unnecessary regulations and federal government overreach. He understands that to help Florida grow successfully, we must focus on ensuring our state has enough water for six million new residents by 2030, that our education reforms help create a talented workforce for Florida’s long-term future, and that we continue to make Florida the number one place to start and grow businesses.

“As Florida continues to grow, we have an opportunity to diversify our economy and expand employment opportunities,” Kitson said.  “It is an exciting time for the business community.  Working together, we can make Florida a place where innovative businesses take root and grow into higher-paying jobs for all working Floridians.”

Kitson is a graduate of Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. He had a notable career in the National Football League playing offensive guard for both the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. Upon his retirement from pro football, he began his career in real estate in 1986. He founded Kitson & Partners in 1999, locating the firm’s company headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens. In 2006, Kitson completed the historic purchase of Babcock Ranch in Southwest Florida, which includes the largest single land preservation agreement in the State’s history (73,000 acres) as well a sustainable, environmentally-friendly green community where residents will live, work, learn and play. Kitson is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and the International Council of Shopping Centers, lectures at Princeton University, sits on the Policy Advisory Board for the Florida Solar Energy Center, serves on the Board of Directors for the Palm Beach Zoo and is on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Florida Council of 100, as well as on the Board of Trustees for Florida TaxWatch and the Board of Directors for the Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation.  Kitson is a member of the NFL Alumni Association and the National Football League Players’ Association. In 2000, Syd received the Rainbow Award from the Adam Walsh Children’s Foundation.

Kitson joins a long list of leaders who continue to fight for our state’s future each day. In addition to outgoing Chair Tracy Duda Chapman, Past Chairs of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors have included: Steve Knopik, Chief Executive Officer of Beall’s, Inc.; Eric Silagy, President and CEO of Florida Power and Light Company; Lars Houmann, President and CEO of Florida Hospital and President and CEO of the Florida Division Adventist Health System; Anthony Connelly, Senior Vice President-Operations, Disney Cruise Line, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, U.S.; former Speaker of the House Allan Bense; Steve Halverson, President and CEO of The Haskell company; Marshall M. Criser, III, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida; Susan Story, President and CEO, American Water Works Company; former Lt. Governor and Senate President Toni Jennings.


Free Enterprise and Economic Development Go Hand in Hand

Last week, I had an opportunity to speak at The Federalist Society meeting in Orlando to discuss how free enterprise and economic development go hand in hand. The Federalist Society, an organization that seeks to promote legal order and individual liberties, provided an opportunity for us to share our state’s success story. In Florida, you cannot discuss free enterprise without pointing out the economic development successes we’ve seen. Consider the following:

  • Since December 2010, Florida businesses have created more than one million private-sector jobs,
  • Florida is the third most populous state in the nation and the 18th largest economy in the world,
  • One out of every 11 jobs in America is created by a Florida businesses,
  • Our state’s unemployment rate remains below the national average, and
  • More than 3,000 taxes and regulations have been cut since December 2010.

The path to Florida’s success was and is paved by a united businesses community that rallies behind a competitiveness agenda that focuses on free enterprise. Yet, as I shared with leaders last week, our work is far from over. If Florida’s economic success is to be used as an example on how to lead the nation and move our economy forward, we must:

  • Continue to pursue targeted tax reforms that eliminate “double-taxation,”
  • Focus less on special interest ideals that would dictate “one-size-fits-all” federal minimum wage  and instead, focus on creating greater opportunities for Floridians to find jobs and further their skills, breaking the cycle of generational poverty and building solid educational foundations that will enable all Floridians to prosper,
  • Encourage international trade agreements like TPA or TPP that would create Florida jobs, and support the continued authorization of Ex-Im bank, which since 2007 has supported $8.17 billion in export sales and more than 52,000 Florida jobs,
  • Work to market Florida nationally as the number one place to do business and grow jobs,
  • Continue to make infrastructure investments that will support the nearly six million more residents estimated to call Florida home by 2030,
  • Become a hub for technology and innovation by welcoming new and “disruptive” technology and innovators, and
  • Continue to champion legal reform and finally rid Floridians of the $3,400 per family lawsuit abuse tax.

Free enterprise principles create jobs and economic opportunity for all Floridians, and help ensure each of our 67 counties are moving toward the same goal—securing our state’s long-term future.


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Learn More

To learn more about the Florida Chamber’s economic development efforts, visit our issue page.

Florida Chamber Names Plum Creek Executive Regional Board Chair

CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261

Todd Powell of Plum Creek
Appointed for 2014-2015 Term

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (May 20, 2015) – The Florida Chamber today announced Todd Powell, General Manager, Real Estate at Plum Creek has been appointed to a 1-year term as the Florida Chamber’s North Central Florida Regional Chair.

“Plum Creek is committed to investing the time and resources necessary to support the Florida Chamber’s initiatives to make Florida the number one place to work and live,” said Todd Powell, General Manager, Real Estate of Plum Creek. “This appointment as Regional Chair of North Central Florida is an opportunity to help secure Florida’s future. I urge all of my fellow business leaders to join us in the arena as we continue the fight for free enterprise.”

Powell was appointed by Steve Knopik, President and CEO of Bealls, Inc. and Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and will work directly to unite North Central Florida area business leaders with Florida legislative leaders to create the most competitive business environment for businesses to succeed.

“Todd Powell is a seasoned business leader that fully understands the important role North Central Florida plays in continuing to move Florida forward,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “In his role as a Florida Chamber Regional Chair, Todd will volunteer his time and talent in support of the Florida Chamber’s pro-business initiatives.”

Powell is one of twelve regional chairs that are a part of the Florida Chamber’s Regional Chair Program.



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 for more information.