Bob Grammig Discusses Economic Incentives

Florida Chamber Regional Chair Bob Grammig shares his perspective on how Florida can continue creating a competitive business climate that attracts new businesses.

“Not getting the $250 million (economic incentives) I think has hurt our reputation among businesses and site selectors and it’s created some uncertainty and made it more difficult I think, to compete with other states. However, from the [Florida] Chamber’s perspective, we still look at this as an opportunity. Even though the money is not there, we recognize that the great majority of jobs are not created as a result of economic incentives and we are looking at other ways to help attract businesses and help businesses expand that don’t involve economic incentives but generally focuses on around quality of life, infrastructure… and pointing out other benefits businesses will have should they relocate to the state…We need to focus on other things- let’s figure out ways we can improve the infrastructure, improve our education system, other factors of that nature that will help attract businesses to move to Florida with the high-paying jobs… that we want to see here that don’t involve direct economic incentives.”

And to Grammig, free enterprise means minimal government interference.

Free enterprise is a system where individuals and business are free to make their own economic choices with minimal government interference… This system results in true long-term benefits and a rising standard of living for our society, as opposed to approaches involving greater governmental interference in the economy, which tend to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few, encourages cronyism, depresses growth and encourages dependence on the government. One of the things I’m proud of is that the Florida Chamber really has been a champion of free enterprise since its inception and Florida is a much better place because of its efforts.”

 

Looking to gain insights into issues that will impact your business in the coming year?

Register today for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Economic Outlook Webinar on December 8.

Insurance Litigation, Assignment of Benefits Reform a Key Focus of Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Insurance Summit Oct. 26-28

 

Florida insurance officials and industry leaders will meet to discuss the state’s top insurance issues for the upcoming year

TALLAHASSEE (October 21, 2015) – State law that was intended to ensure a level playing field between consumers and their insurance companies in the handling of claims has instead evolved into a windfall for some trial lawyers, contractors and other vendors, according to a new report by the Florida Justice Reform Institute.

The report, Restoring Balance in Insurance Litigation, calls on state lawmakers to amend Florida law to curb abuse of one-way attorney fees and Assignment of Benefits, or AOBs. The one-way attorney fee statute allows trial lawyers to collect legal fees from insurance companies if they prevail in a claims dispute, but prevents insurers from recouping their legal costs if the court instead rules in their favor. Emboldened by the statute, plaintiffs gain negotiating power to inflate bills and gain attorney fees that are potentially unwarranted or disproportionate to any amount recovered.

Over time, the one-way attorney fee statute has become an incentive for trial lawyers, contractors and other vendors – often water damage remediation firms, roofers, or auto glass shops with aggressive marketing schemes – to file meritless lawsuits using Assignment of Benefits. AOBs are intended to allow contractors to work directly with insurers in getting paid for work performed, without having the policyholder put up repair money. However, some third parties are soliciting AOBs as a means of taking control of the policyholder’s benefits and then using that authority to inflate claims and file lawsuits, sometimes without the knowledge or consent of the policyholder.

The Institute’s report, authored by Mark Delegal of Holland & Knight and Ashley Kalifeh of Capital City Consulting – two Tallahassee-based attorneys with extensive insurance experience – will be presented during the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual Insurance Summit Oct. 26-28 at the Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando. The event attracts Florida’s elected officials, insurance regulators and private industry leaders to discuss the major trends and issues impacting Florida insurance consumers.

 

“Maintaining a healthy and competitive private insurance market is essential to ensuring Florida is an attractive destination for new businesses, capital investment and job growth, while also benefiting consumers with more choices in the marketplace,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Already, Florida’s lawsuit abuse climate is known as one of the worst in the country. Unfortunately, rampant Assignment of Benefits abuse is threatening to worsen our state’s legal climate and cost families more.”

 

The conference will include speaker presentations and panelist discussions on various insurance issues, including the property and casualty market, pricing and cost drivers, regulations, cyber security, medical malpractice and workers’ compensation. A key focus will be one-way attorney fees and AOB, as outlined in the Florida Justice Reform Institute report.

“This report is the first, hard look at how the growing use of AOBs is increasing costs and litigation,” said William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute. “Policyholders just want to be made whole for their losses, but with an AOB, vendors and their lawyers are incentivized to increase the claim’s scope of work and maximize profit and litigation fees.”

Assignment of Benefits abuse has become widespread in South Florida and is quickly spreading throughout Florida. State-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. says lawsuits over water damage claims are the main reason why it is raising 2016 premiums in the tri-county region of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Without AOB abuse, the rates for Citizens policyholders would have gone down. In addition, data mined from the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Service of Process Unit shows that AOB lawsuits have grown by 16,000 percent since 2000, and currently represent about one-third of all insurance litigation.

 

“As these water damage claims are absorbed by the insurance companies, it’s going to result in an increase in everyone’s homeowner premiums,” said Bob Rollins, an independent insurance agent for the Beacon Group in Boca Raton. “The best answer is a legislative approach. We need a law that has some teeth in it.”

 

Bills to address AOB abuse were introduced during the last three legislative sessions but failed amid intense lobbying pressure from trial attorneys, contractors and vendors who use this scheme. Similar legislation is expected to be filed for the 2016 session.

 

“The one-way attorney’s fee was meant to benefit the insured. It was not meant to benefit third party corporate vendors,” Large said. “Until legislators clarify this principle, the problem will only get worse.”

 

During the conference, Chamber organizers plan to unveil an educational video about the risks of blindly assigning insurance benefits to a contractor or other third party. John Rollins, Citizens’ chief risk officer, and Angel Conlin, general counsel for the American Strategic Insurance Co., will also discuss AOB abuse and its impact on insurers and homeowners.

NOTE: Media are encouraged to attend. RSVP to Edie Ousley at eousley@flchamber.com.

###

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.

Florida Chamber Regional Chair Bob Grammig on Free Enterprise, International Trade and More

“Florida is not just a great place to live and
do business, but it has an incredibly diversified
economy that allows businesses to thrive.”

– BOB GRAMMIG
Partner at Holland and Knight, Florida Chamber Board member
and one of twelve Florida Chamber Regional Board Chairs.

 

Businesses like Holland and Knight understand the value of a united business community. Bob Grammig, Partner at Holland and Knight, Florida Chamber Board member and one of twelve Florida Chamber Regional Board Chairs, discusses why businesses choose Florida.

“The range of goods and services that our state produces are unmatched in their range and sophistication,” said Bob Grammig, Partner at Holland and Knight. “Businesses elsewhere are increasingly well aware that Florida is a great state for businesses, as we continue to draw into our state a wide variety of dynamic businesses bringing exciting economic opportunities to the people of Florida.”

One such opportunity can be found in Florida’s thriving international initiatives, which help further diversify Florida’s economy as well as create high-skilled jobs. In fact, the Florida Chamber Foundation’s more recent Trade and Logistics study highlights global opportunities for Florida. But for Florida to continue to move in the right direction we should continue to focus on the three major principles in the Trade and Logistics study: Move, Make and Multiply.

“We need to emphasize on moving more trade through our seaports and air gateways, make, grow and refine more products for exports from Florida by expanding Florida-origin goods and we need to multiply the impacts of global trade,” said Grammig. “By expanding our state’s role as the global hub for trade and logistics, we are creating jobs, attracting and retaining talent and providing more opportunities for businesses who want to grow or expand in our state.”

As Florida Chamber Regional Board Chair for the Tampa Bay area, Grammig has a unique opportunity to unite a diverse region.

“In my role as Regional Board Chair… I hope to help unite business interests in the region to speak with one voice and to pursue our common goals,” said Grammig. “We have an outstanding and ever improving infrastructure consisting of seaports, airports and road and rail, and we have a number of dynamic businesses. We all seek to expand both domestic and international commerce and goods and services and to remain vigilant in protecting our free enterprise systems.”

For Grammig, free enterprise is more than an idea.

“Free enterprise is a system where individuals and businesses are free to make their own economic choices with minimal government interference. This includes the ability to compete internationally with minimal barriers. The Florida Chamber has been the champion of free enterprise since its inception and Florida is a much better place because of its efforts. We at Holland and Knight, a Florida home-grown enterprise, have long assisted our clients to create Florida jobs and drive economic growth and we fully support the [Florida] Chamber’s efforts to make our state the most economically vibrant in America.”

Florida Chamber to Build Trade Relations During Peru Trade Mission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Edie Ousley, 850-521-1231 or 850-251-6261
eousley@flchamber.com

 Peru Chamber of Commerce and
Florida Chamber to Sign MOU

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (March 20, 2015) – Building on Florida’s once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Florida’s economy into a global hub for trade, logistics and export-oriented manufacturing activities, the Florida Chamber of Commerce will join Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Enterprise Florida on a trade mission trip to Peru next week.

Alice Ancona, Director of Global Outreach for the Florida Chamber; Lee Sandler, Member, Florida Chamber Board of Directors, Chair of the Florida Chamber International Business Council, and Founding Member of Sandler, Travis, and Rosenberg, P.A.; and Bob Grammig, Member, Florida Chamber Board of Directors and Partner at Holland & Knight, will lead the Florida Chamber delegation.

“The Export Development Trade Mission to Peru will give Florida companies the opportunity to meet current and future trading partners in one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America,” said Bill Johnson, Florida Secretary of Commerce and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. “Expanding the exports of Florida products to Peru even higher than last year’s $2.8 billion will expand Florida businesses and put even more Floridians to work.”

According to research from the Florida Chamber Foundation, international business and foreign direct investment account for approximately 17 percent of Florida’s economic activity, and directly support more than 1 million Florida jobs. With more than 30 million people and one of the strongest economies in South America, there is a strong potential for Florida companies to expand their exports to Peru. Florida currently exports many different types of Florida-origin products to Peru, including industrial and electric machinery, fertilizers, vehicles, civilian aircraft, and medical instruments.

“Trade missions are effective investments in future trade and are an important way for Florida companies to develop relationships with prospective trade partners,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist at the Florida Chamber Foundation. “Companies that want to expand their exports often find that investing in relationship building leads to more success in finding trading partners and markets.”

Consider These Peru and Florida Facts:

  • With an estimated 229,000 Peruvian visitors to Florida in 2013, Peru is the 14th-highest nation for Florida visitors.
  • According to the Florida Visitors Study 2013, Peru is also the 9th-highest country in terms of tourist spending while in Florida, with more than $364 million spent in 2013.
  • Peru is Florida’s eighth largest trading partner with more than $2.8 billion in Florida products exported to Peru last year,
    Peruvian imports totaled $2.6 billion in 2013,
  • In 2013, Peru achieved its 15th consecutive year of economic growth at 5 percent and Peru continues to be one of the best performing economies in Latin America.

Building a global economy means opportunities for Florida’s small businesses as well. In fact, 95 percent of our state’s 60,000 exporters are small-to-medium-sized businesses that produce two-thirds of Florida’s total export value, according to the Chamber Foundation’s recent Peru Mission Equal Jobs and Economic Opportunity report.

“Big businesses can, in many cases, take care of themselves on this,” said Bob Grammig, Partner at Holland & Knight in a recent Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise interview. “But for smaller businesses, it’s very helpful to have an organization like the Florida Chamber to help drive necessary changes.”

The impact international relationships have on Florida’s businesses can be particularly helpful for small businesses trying to break into international trade like Florida Chamber Foundation trustee Endoscopy Replacement Parts.

“Global trade is an important part of not only our business, but also Florida’s future,” said John Hartnett, Vice President of Global Business Development at Endoscopy Replacement Parts. “The boost Florida companies receive to compete worldwide positions them in helping Florida further develop international business, help our diversification, and help create more jobs in our state.”

While on the Peru Mission, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Lima Chamber of Commerce will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to help promote trade and investment opportunities between Peru and the United States. The Wednesday, March 25 signing will include representatives from the Lima Chamber as well as Alice Ancona, Director of Global Outreach for the Florida Chamber, Lieutenant-Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Lee Sandler of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A., and Bob Grammig, Partner at Holland & Knight.

Others participating in the Peru trip include: CAMACOL, AMCHAM, Port Miami, Florida Department of Transportation, Port Everglades and more.

###

 

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.

Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise: Bob Grammig on Florida’s Global Economy

Florida is a global economy. In fact, if Florida was a country, it would be the 19th largest economy in the world. According to research from the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Trade and Logistics Study 2.0, the global economy is expected to double in size over the next 20 years, with more than one billion new consumers by 2020.

 

 

For Florida to move in the right direction, we need to focus on the Florida Chamber Foundation’s initiatives to MOVE, MAKE and MULTIPLY.

 

“We need to emphasize (on) moving more trade through our seaports and air gateways,” said Bob Grammig, Partner at Holland & Knight. “We need to have an emphasis on moving more imports directly into Florida and better balancing the inbound and outbound trade flows. Second thing we need to do is make, grow and refine more products for exports from Florida by expanding exports of Florida-originated manufactured goods, agricultural products and other natural resources. And the third thing we need to do is to multiply the impacts of global trade in Florida by providing value added services to trading businesses and our trading partners around the world, by expanding our role as the global hub for visitors, investment and talent.”

 

Building a global economy means opportunities for Florida’s small businesses as well. In fact, 95 percent of our state’s 60,000 exporters are small-to-medium-sized businesses that produce two-thirds of Florida’s total export value.

 

“One of the top things we can do is to continue to identify and elimate legislative and regulatory impediments to international business,” said Grammig. “Big businesses can, in many cases, take care of themselves on this. But for smaller businesses, it’s very helpful to have an organization like the Florida Chamber to help drive necessary changes. The other thing… we want to do is continue to support the Governor’s strategic emphasis on trade and logistics -expansion of our seaports, improvements of our airports- which will facilitate smaller exporters to have access to those international markets. And the last thing is generally, to provide continuing support through trade missions and export promotion activities to various trade partners around the world.”

 

 

Economic trade missions like the upcoming one to Peru, hosted by Enterprise Florida, and events like the upcoming International Days will benefit businesses of all sizes.

 

“Business leaders will hear some top international trade experts and thought leaders when they are there. many people in our state underestimate the scope of our international business,” said Grammig. “There’s more than $60 billion in exports that we do. Small businesses I think will find especially usual to learn about the programs that the Florida Chamber as well as the state federal government have to assist their international efforts.”