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.

Overall Voters Feeling Good About Florida’s Direction, But Undecided In 2018 Governor’s Race

TALLAHASSEE, FL (January 11, 2018) – A majority of Florida voters believe Florida is headed in the right direction, according to the latest statewide political poll released by the Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI).

In its first statewide poll of the New Year, 56 percent of likely voters believe Florida is headed in the right direction. Although the majority of voters approve of Florida’s direction, the views differ based on party. Republicans are especially optimistic at 76 percent, more than half of NPA’s (56 percent) believe Florida is moving in the right direction, while less than half of Democrats (34 percent) believe Florida is headed in the right direction.

More than half (57 percent) of all registered voters approve of Governor Rick Scott’s job performance. Among parties, Republicans overwhelmingly approve of his performance by 82 percent, while 30 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of NPA’s approve.

Ten months before electing a new Governor, voters from both parties are beginning to consider which candidates they will support, although there are more undecided than decided candidates.

Among candidates on the Democrat ticket, Gwen Graham leads with 14 percent, however 64 percent of voters remain undecided. Philip Levine garners 7 percent, Andrew Gillum garners 6 percent and Chris King garners 1 percent.

On the Republican ticket for candidates, 23 percent support Adam Putnam and 18 percent support Ron DeSantis, while 50 percent are undecided.

 

“Voters will elect a new Governor, all new members of the Florida Cabinet and 140 members to the Florida House and Senate. It’s still very early in what will be a busy 2018 election cycle. In the coming months, voters will begin to take a much closer look at the candidates for office,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President, Political Operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

 

On the issues that matter to voters, education tops the list at 17 percent, followed by jobs and the economy at 13 percent and healthcare at 12 percent. Immigration and global warming remain a concern – garnering 5 percentage points each. While issues like guns, terrorism and marijuana barely register among voters.

When considering constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot, Amendment 1 would pass if voted on today, while Amendment 2 is inching closer to the 60 percent threshold for passage.

Amendment 1 calls for increasing the homestead exemption:

  • 61 percent of voters support increasing the homestead exemption for homeowners.
  • 69 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of NPA’s and 52 percent of Democrats support increasing the homestead exemption for homeowners.

Amendment 2 would make a 10 percent cap on annual non-homestead property tax increases permanent:

  • 54 percent of likely voters support making the 10 percent cap on annual non-homesteaded property tax permanent.
  • 58 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of NPA’s and 50 percent of Democrats support making the 10 percent cap on annual non-homesteaded property tax permanent.

Beyond the Florid Chamber’s political polling, voter registration indicates interesting trends:

  • 42 percent of all new voters registered since January 1, 2018 are registering as NPA’s
    • 27 percent are registering as Democrats
    • 27 percent are registering as Republicans
  • 54 percent of new Hispanic voters are registering as NPA’s
    • 32 percent are registering as Democrats
    • 14 percent are registering as Republicans

 

ABOUT THIS POLL:  The Florida Chamber of Commerce political poll was conducted on January 2-5, 2018 by Voter Opinions during live telephone interviews of likely voters, and has a margin of error of +/-4 percent. The sample size included 235 Democrats, 259 Republicans and 106 Others for a total of 600 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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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.

 

 

The Fight for Jobs and Economic Growth

Voice of Reason

March 7, 2017

Today marks the start of the 2017 Legislative Session, and the fight to secure Florida’s future is more important than ever. That’s because jobs, and the future of economic growth in Florida, are under attack.

At the Florida Chamber of Commerce, we’re on the front lines and fighting for job creators. We’re carrying your message to #MakeFLMoreCompetitive through jobs and economic growth to lawmakers. In fact, the Florida Chamber’s 2017 Competitiveness Agenda provides a step-by-step legislative roadmap – focusing resources and expertise to advance jobs, competitiveness and economic opportunity for Floridians.

The road to securing Florida’s future won’t be easy. In fact, this week, the Florida House of Representatives will vote to end economic diversification efforts and eliminate Florida’s economic development toolkit, international programs, marketing and small business assistance programs (HB 7005). Worse yet, the Florida House is also fully prepared to gut VISIT Florida and withdraw investments originally intended for tourism marketing (HB 9).

At the Florida Chamber, we believe that our state must continue to invest in initiatives that support diversifying the economy and attracting visitors and businesses to our state. And we’re not alone in our fight.

 

“We have to keep diversifying our economy and investing in programs that actually help businesses grow jobs here in Florida,” GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT said today during his State of the State address which also expanded on his continuing efforts to never stop fighting for Florida families.

 

Throughout the next 60 day Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature can take additional steps to help ensure a stronger business climate that will grow jobs and the economy now and into the future. Chief among the Florida Chamber’s recommendations to #MakeFLMoreCompetitive are:

  • Fixing Florida’s broken workers’ comp system, and stopping the $1.5 billion jobs tax,
    Improving Florida’s Bottom 10 legal climate, which creates a $3,400 tax for a family of four each year,
  • Resolving Florida’s increasing Homeowners Fraud Tax that results from Assignment of Benefits abuse, which increases homeowners insurance premiums for families,
  • Protecting Florida’s family-friendly brand from expanded Las Vegas-style casino gambling,
  • Insuring Florida continues to attract and retain jobs, and
  • Preparing Florida’s workforce through continued improvements to our K-12 system, increasing educational opportunities in higher education and 21st century vocational trades – all to help ensure a talented workforce is Florida’s best long-term economic development strategy.

While there’s an awful lot of good going on in Florida, the truth is that things are fragile, and the Florida Legislature has the opportunity this session to ensure we #MakeFLMoreCompetitive for families and job creators. After all, people matter and jobs matter.

Free enterprise works, but it is never free. If you believe in business, support us. When we win, you win. When you win, Florida wins.

We look forward to working with Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Cabinet, Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and the entire Florida Legislature to continue making sure the right things happen in Florida.

Get Involved

Florida Chamber President Urges Congress to Begin Breaking The Cycle of Generational Poverty Through Economic Opportunity

“The battle of this generation is between economic equality and economic opportunity – between those who believe
that everyone is entitled to prosperity and those who believe everyone is entitled to the opportunity to succeed.”

– Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 1, 2016) – While voters in 11 states are casting ballots for their preferred presidential candidate today, Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce took to Capitol Hill to encourage the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources to seek ways to end generational poverty by lifting up Americans through economic opportunity instead of entitlements.

“The battle of this generation is between economic equality and economic opportunity – between those who believe that everyone is entitled to prosperity and those who believe everyone is entitled to the opportunity to succeed,” Mark Wilson said during testimony before the Congressional Committee.

As Wilson explained, there will always be poverty, the kind that results from temporary setbacks such as job loss, foreclosures, or unexpected challenges, and the Florida Chamber believes social safety nets are needed and necessary to help bridge a family back to a productive “work based solution.”

“While sometimes necessary, certain entitlement programs can have the unintended consequences of creating dependency, exacerbating the underlying issues and enabling a system that keeps those within it captive, unable to climb out,” Wilson explained. “We can break this cycle and create greater opportunities for the next generation by removing the shackles of government entitlement programs that are holding the poorest of the poor back, incorporating greater educational opportunities and allowing free enterprise to create more private-sector jobs. We can make generational poverty a thing of the past and the American Dream of economic freedom a reality.”

To break the cycle, Wilson urges Members of Congress to focus on closing the education gap and increasing workforce training and work based solutions.

“Jobs and education create equal opportunity and hope for all Floridians, including our most vulnerable residents. Florida’s business leaders have accepted the challenge to focus on prosperity as an economic driver and find solutions to curb generational poverty. If we are going to help solve the poverty problem, leadership must come from the business community, not just the tax base,” Wilson told members of the congressional committee.

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee is Chaired by Congressman Vern Buchanan, a former Florida Chamber Chair. This is the first committee meeting of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee that Congressman Buchanan is chairing.

Read Mark Wilson’s comments to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee by clicking here.

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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.

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.

 

Share Your Story

If you have an idea, statistic or example you’d like me to know about, please email me at mwilson@flchamber.com.

 

Learn More

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

One Million New Jobs In Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (December 18, 2015) – Below is a statement from Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, regarding today’s announcement that Florida has secured one million new jobs since December 2010.

“The Florida Chamber of Commerce congratulates Florida’s job creators for creating one million private-sector jobs in the last five years, and Governor Rick Scott for his leadership in creating a business climate favorable for job creation. Making Florida first for private-sector jobs is good for Florida’s families and our state’s economy.

The Florida Chamber looks forward to working with Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to make Florida even more competitive, further strengthening our state’s business climate, and to continue securing Florida’s future.”

 

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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.

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.

Did You Know Florida Has One of the Top Job Growth Rates in the Nation?

According to recent Bureau of Labor & Statistics data, Florida’s year over job growth rate of 3.0 percent was the fastest growth rate in the nation among the 10 largest states. Florida beat out California, Texas, New York and the national average of 2.0 percent, which is a good indicator of economic growth.

With 27 other states experiencing job losses for the month, Florida’s focus on job creation, regulatory reform and business climate continues to be a model for economic recovery. But with an estimated 2 million additional jobs needed by 2030, how will Florida maintain positive job growth to meet the workforce demand of the future?

Get Involved:

To be part of the conversation on job growth and diversifying Florida’s economy, join the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Innovation Caucus.

Half of Today’s Occupations Will be Obsolete in 2030

Technology and globalization will continue to be a factor in every job and in every sector, causing many of today’s positions to be radically transformed or disappear altogether by 2030. With transition comes the opportunity to innovate and create the next generation of jobs right here in Florida.

It is important to prepare tomorrow’s graduates and workforce for the workplace demands of the future.  A look at the types of jobs currently open across Florida point to one trend that’s likely to continue – the need for more Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training. STEM jobs are expected to grow 3 times faster than non-STEM jobs well into the future.

Get Involved

To be part of the conversation on innovation and preparing tomorrow’s workforce, join us at the Future of Florida Forum on September 28-29, in Orlando.

 

Florida Chamber Unveils 2015 Legislative Report Card

Missed Opportunities and Philosophical Differences Lead to Fewer Votes
Cast On Issues That Could Have Made Florida More Competitive

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (July 7 , 2015) – Following the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing actual grades earned by all members of the House and Senate on the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card. The grades reflect fewer scored votes cast than previous years on issues that would have made Florida more competitive – especially in the areas of healthcare, water policy, lawsuit abuse reform and taxpayer funded pension reform. Although this year will be remembered as the year the legislative process missed major opportunities, the Florida Chamber thanks Senate President Andy Gardiner and Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli for not allowing new lawsuits, new taxes or more regulations.

After tabulating more than 3,384 votes cast during the 2015 regular and special legislative sessions, nearly 54 percent of state lawmakers earned an “A” (90-100) on the priority pro-jobs issues outlined in the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Business Agenda. 3,384 actual scored votes is approximately only half of the scored votes as in previous years.

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

“Despite philosophical differences, lawmakers passed 20 Florida Chamber-backed measures during the two recent legislative sessions,” said Steve Knopik, Chair of the Florida Chamber and CEO of Beall’s, Inc. “Unfortunately, there were a number of missed opportunities, resulting in fewer votes taken on issues that could help make Florida more competitive.”

The Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card is an online tool that illuminates grades legislators earned based on their support of pro-jobs, pro-business issues during the annual legislative session.

Poll after poll shows that Floridians are concerned about the job the Congress and the Florida Legislature are doing. The latest Florida Chamber voter poll shows 41 percent of voters disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing, while 40 percent approve, compared to 70 percent of Florida voters who disapprove of the job Congress is doing.

“The Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card lets Florida’s families and small businesses know if legislators voted in favor of job creation and a stronger economy, and provides them with valuable information as they begin to consider the 2016 election cycle,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber.

Building on the Florida Chamber’s multi-year competitiveness agenda, this year the Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott approved more than $400 million in targeted tax relief, championed education reforms for a globally competitive workforce, invested in infrastructure and transportation, strengthened Florida’s economic development efforts, implemented Amendment 1 and made strides to address Florida’s forthcoming doctor shortage.

Analytics From the Florida Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Report Card Reveal:

  • 20 Senators earned an “A” – remaining steady from 2013 and 2014,
  • 61 Representatives earned an “A” – down from 71 last year, and
  • Grade Point Average for Representatives was 83 percent and 89 percent for Senators – down from 87 percent and up from 88.7 percent respectively last year.

The Florida Chamber entered the 2015 Legislative Session by encouraging lawmakers to focus on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small businesses. The Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs, Where We Stand, served as an important roadmap to educate lawmakers on the business community’s priorities.

Lawmakers were also notified prior to each vote impacting the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs that their vote would be counted. The tabulated results of each of those votes result in the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.

While 1,795 bills were filed, and 232 of them passed both chambers, the Florida Chamber has a focused agenda and the actual votes used to calculate the report card are those votes that tie directly to the Florida Chamber’s agenda for jobs. In the past four years, Governor Scott has had a perfect batting average in signing all 104 Florida Chamber-backed bills into law.

“While I wish the regulations process would have allowed more courageous votes, I’m extremely proud of the great work of the Florida Chamber’s Board of Directors, local chambers and the more than 30 lobbyists that have worked aggressively in support of free enterprise and job creation,” Hart said.

Moving forward, the Florida Chamber is already developing its 2016 Business Agenda, and the Florida Chamber’s Political Operations team, under the direction of Senior Vice President of Political Operations Marian Johnson, is actively enlisting pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to run in the 2016 election cycle.

The Florida Chamber will soon release How They Voted 2015, a detailed annual report summarizing the priorities of the recent legislative sessions and incorporating the 2015 Legislative Report Card.

 

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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.

Latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Poll Shows Floridians Overwhelmingly Support Cell Phone/Cable TV Tax Cut

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

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (June 1 , 2015) – By a margin of nearly five to one, Floridians support cutting taxes on cell phones and cable television, according to the latest Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) poll released today.

“Lowering the cost of living and the cost of doing business through targeted tax reforms is a top priority of the Florida Chamber of Commerce,”  said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of the Florida Chamber Political Institute. “Clearly, voters agree with Governor Scott and the Florida Chamber that lowering cell phone and cable TV taxes will put money back into the pockets of Floridians and help make Florida more competitive.”

Of the 605 Florida likely voters polled, more than 70 percent support a reduction in the Communications Service Tax (CST), while 15 percent oppose and only 12 percent were unsure. The CST tax cut is among proposals lawmakers are expected to consider during the June 1-20, 2015 Special Legislative Session.

Right/Wrong Direction and Financial Situation:

With more than 865,000 private-sector jobs created in the last five years, and an unemployment rate at 5.6 percent, the Florida Chamber’s poll also shows Florida voters still believe Florida is headed in the right direction, and that they are financially better off today than a year ago.

  • Right/Wrong Direction: 
    42 percent agree Florida is headed in the right direction. This number remains about the same as 2014 when 43 percent said Florida is headed in the right direction and 41 percent saying wrong direction. (Cross-tabs included)
  • Financial Situation: 
    40 percent of voters believe their financial situation is better today than a year ago – an eight percent jump from this time last year. (Cross-tabs included).

    • Feb/March, 2015– 36 percent better off; 25 percent worse off.
    • Feb/March, 2014 – 28 percent better off; 36 percent worse off.

Top Issues on the Minds of Florida Voters:

While the top three issues continue to be jobs/economy, education and healthcare, there has been significant changes in the numbers.

  • Jobs/Economy
    19 percent of Florida voters cite this as their number one issue – down 10 percent from May 2014.
  • Healthcare
    17 percent of the voters rank this as their number one issue – slightly up from 13 percent in May 2014.
  • Education
    16 percent of likely voters rank education as their top priority – remaining steady from previous polls.
  • Balance the State Budget, Crime and Immigration
    were the other issues selected by Florida voters.

The poll of 605 respondents, conducted on May 14-20, 2015 during live telephone interviews of likely voters, has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The sample was drawn from frequent voters and respondents were again screened for voter registration during the interview. The sample was balanced according to all known demographic factors. Sixty-four percent of the respondents were interviewed via landlines and 35 percent via cell numbers. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.5 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level.  This poll was conducted by Florida Chamber Political Institute, a research arm of the Florida Chamber.

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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.

Florida Chamber’s Targeted Tax Reforms Will Lower Cost of Living and Cost of Doing Business

As Florida lawmakers prepare for the June 1-20 special legislative session to pass a balanced budget, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is encouraging legislators to also lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business through targeted tax reforms.

“Special session has a lot on the table, including the creation of a state budget and the chance for meaningful healthcare reform,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is optimistic that the Florida Legislature can work through these items and still pass targeted tax reforms that will put money back in the pockets of Floridians and make Florida even more competitive.”

Driving a fair and equitable tax system is key to attracting and retaining businesses in Florida. Limiting burdensome taxes by enacting smart and targeted tax reforms helps place money back into the pockets of Florida’s families.

For a more competitive Florida, the Florida Chamber supports the following targeted tax reforms:

  • Communications Service Tax (CST) cut,
  • Reducing sales taxes on commercial leases,
  • Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday,
  • Small Business Saturday Tax Holiday,
  • Research and Development tax cuts,
  • Defense contracting tax credit.

    “The Florida legislature has the important responsibility of crafting the state budget during the special session, but also has a great opportunity to reduce taxes for Florida’s families and businesses,” said Dennis Grady, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches. “This opportunity can not only put additional money in the pockets of hard working families, but could mean the difference in job creation and business expansion. Our Florida economy is at its best when the legislature returns tax payer dollars to those who could use it the most.”

Florida Chamber members and partners look forward to working with lawmakers during the special session to help ensure targeted tax reforms can further help attract and retain jobs.

Take Action Now

How will targeted tax reforms help your business grow? Share your story by emailing me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Florida’s Agriculture Industry Benefits from International Trade

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

 

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (May 12, 2015) – Nine of the top 10 markets for Florida agricultural exports are located in the Americas, according to research from the Florida Chamber’s Global Florida Program.

“The Americas present a large portion of Florida’s international trade opportunity, especially for Florida’s agriculture industry,” said Alice Ancona, Director of Global Outreach for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Canada continues to be Florida’s number one destination for Florida agriculture products, while Brazil continues to rank as Florida’s top trading partner and export destination. Florida has a once in a lifetime opportunity to take advantage of changing trade routes and become the global hub for international trade.”

Florida ranks eighth in the United States for “Fresh from Florida” exports of agricultural commodities, valued at an all-time record of $4.2 billion, supporting more than 109,000 jobs and representing an economic value of more than $13 billion.

Canada also tops the list as the top international country for visitors and dollars spent in Florida- with more than $4 billion spent. Growing trade relationships with countries like Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and Peru work to create a competitive environment for Florida’s exporters – 95 percent of which are small-to-mid-sized businesses— to grow and thrive. In fact, the Florida Chamber recently led a Florida delegation along with Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, to Peru to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to help promote trade and investment opportunities between Peru and the United States.

The impact of international trade to Florida’s economy cannot be denied. International business and foreign direct investment accounts for approximately 17 percent of Florida’s economic activity, and directly supports more than 1 million Florida jobs. Florida is the seventh largest exporter of state-origin products with Florida-origin exports totaling more than $58.6 billion and exports from Florida supporting 275,221 U.S. jobs in 2013.

“International trade is critical not only for Florida’s overall economy, but for individual families and communities across the state, as well as visiting consumers,” said  Doug Wheeler, President and CEO, Florida Ports Council. “Increasing trade creates jobs and brings a better quality of life to our state.”

The Florida Chamber’s Global Florida Program’s mission is to educate and promote business opportunities, collaborate and advance policy initiatives in each of the four major geographic regions:  Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and Middle East/Africa. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam recently sponsored the Florida World Trade Month resolution, which was signed by Governor Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and CFO Jeff Atwater.

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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.

Atlanta Leader Explains, “Why Florida?”

From taxes, population growth and job projections to weather and quality of life- businesses have many different factors to consider when making expansion or growth decisions. For those businesses headquartered out of the state, Florida presents a unique opportunity for competitive growth.

Consider these Florida facts:

  • Florida has added more than 840,000 private-sector jobs since 2010,
  • Florida Chamber-backed education reforms have helped 4th grade readers rank number 1 in the nation, African American student achievement gains are the highest in the nation, Hispanic graduation rates are the highest in the nation, and high school graduation rates are at an 11 year high,
  • Florida’s business tax climate ranks 5th best in the nation according to Tax Foundation,
  • In 2014 Florida’s quality of life ranked number one according to Chief Executive Magazine,
  • Florida is ranked second in the nation for best business climate according to Chief Executive Magazine, and
  • Florida workers are not subject to personal income tax.

As a leader with a General Electric business headquartered in Atlanta, it’s hard to ignore the welcome mat that Florida has worked hard to create. I watched as Florida’s economy, along with the nation, plummeted during the recession. I also watched unemployment rates skyrocket to more than 11 percent. But I have also watched Florida businesses bounce back, and stronger than ever before. Florida has truly become a model for economic growth and recovery and the state as a whole, is better for that. The Florida Chamber united the businesses community under free enterprise principles that fueled the growth of today and more importantly, continued growth. When we consider business expansion projects, we always have options among several states. But as we decided to grow our GE Oil and Gas business, adding almost 500 jobs, the question was no longer “why Florida” but instead, “why not Florida?”

 

Written by Trey Paris, U.S. Manager of State Government Relations with the General Electric Company, Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Florida Caucus.

 

Get Involved:

The Florida Chamber’s Florida Caucus is designed for leaders who live out of state but have principle responsibilities in Florida. Interested in how you can engage? Contact Katie Richardson at KRichardson@flchamber.com.

Workers with Unique Abilities Play a Vital Role in Florida’s Workforce

Florida’s economic recovery is well underway.

Since 2010, Florida’s leadership has been focused on jobs.

In fact, Florida Chamber of Commerce members and others have created more than 800,000 private-sector jobs.

As Florida continues on the path to become the No. 1 job-creating state in the nation, Florida has an opportunity to help encourage underemployed Floridians — especially those with unique abilities — to reach their full employment potential.

Over the next 15 years, Florida will add 6 million new residents and need to fill 2 million new jobs.

Finding and keeping a talented workforce is among the chief concerns of Florida Chamber member businesses.

Broadening the scope from which employees are hired can help expand our existing workforce and provide even greater diversity and access to necessary skills and experience.

Typically, individuals with unique abilities struggle with higher unemployment rates.

These so-called “disabilities” come in many stripes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with a unique ability was 13.2 percent in 2013, compared with a 7.1 percent unemployment rate for people without what the federal government calls a disability.

Yet leading national reports show that businesses experience increased productivity and above average performance and quality of work simply by employing individuals with unique abilities.

This is something that our partners at the Able Trust have known for years, and they’ve made it their mission to be a key leader in providing Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment.

Leading Florida Chamber members and partners recognize that diverse, talented and dedicated people are critical to their success.

Florida Chamber member Darden Restaurants has also been recognized as a Corporate Champion by Able Trust.

The Florida Chamber Foundation is currently partnering on a research project to learn more about the best practices of hiring persons with unique abilities.

Initial findings will be released during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2015 Education Summit scheduled for June 9.

To provide input, please email: tlowe@flfoundation.org.

In the meantime, we look forward to advancing the legislative conversation to empower students with unique abilities as they prepare to play a leading role in Florida’s workforce.

Whatever the ZIP Code, whatever the unique ability, free enterprise is a ladder to success for everyone.

 

Mark Wilson, CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tallahassee