DEO’s Ken Lawson Shares Importance of Investing in VISIT FLORIDA, the QTI Program, and Communities Impacted by Hurricanes

With the Florida Legislature currently putting finishing touches on Florida’s next state budget, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity CEO Ken Lawson tells the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line that Floridians enjoy a friendly tax climate because of Florida’s visitors contributing to the economy.

“By virtue of tourism, we’re not paying a state income tax. Out-of-state tourists are investing in Florida, spending money across the state, that means that’s increasing our tax base. So, it’s very important that VISIT FLORIDA is funded to help market the state across the country and the world.”

-Director Ken Lawson
CEO, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Director Lawson, Florida’s top economic development leader, also shared the importance of not letting the Qualified Targeted Industries (QTI) program sunset.

“QTI is a great tool for small, medium and large communities across Florida. This tool causes companies to create jobs in aerospace, finance and diversified areas,” he explained about the program that allows job creators who invest in their business, create jobs and pay their taxes, to seek tax refunds based on their investment.

Director Lawson also highlights how DEO is playing a vital role in helping with long-term hurricane disaster recovery.

“Under Governor DeSantis’s leadership, DEO is fully committed to long-term disaster recovery, ensuring they put funds out across the State of Florida,” Lawson said. “With Hurricane Irma, we awarded $300 million so far, with Hurricane Michael we are working on our state action plan.”

Call, Text, Email Your Lawmaker

Florida’s businesses need your support. Reach out to your lawmakers and encourage them to support continuing Florida’s QTI program and VISIT FLORIDA. Find your Representative HERE. Find your Senator HERE.

The Florida Chamber also has a goal for every community to have resiliency plans in times of natural disaster. Tell us HERE about your community’s resiliency plan.

Florida’s Top Economic Development Leader Pushes for VISIT FLORIDA and Qualified Targeted Industry Investments

Shares How Florida’s DEO is Helping with Long-Term Hurricane Disaster Relief

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (February 25, 2020) – With the Florida Legislature currently putting finishing touches on Florida’s next state budget, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity CEO Ken Lawson tells the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line that Floridians enjoy a friendly tax climate because of Florida’s visitors contributing to the economy.

“By virtue of tourism, we’re not paying a state income tax,” said Lawson. “Out-of-state tourists are investing in Florida, spending money across the state, that means that’s increasing our tax base. So, it’s very important that VISIT FLORIDA is funded to help market the state across the country and the world.”

Director Lawson, Florida’s top economic development leader, also shared the importance of not letting the Qualified Targeted Industries (QTI) program sunset.

“QTI is a great tool for small, medium and large communities across Florida. This tool causes companies to create jobs in aerospace, finance and diversified areas,” he explained about the program that allows job creators who invest in their business, create jobs and pay their taxes, to seek tax refunds based on their investment.

Director Lawson also highlights how DEO is playing a vital role in helping with long-term hurricane disaster recovery.

“Under Governor DeSantis’s leadership, DEO is fully committed to long-term disaster recovery, ensuring they put funds out across the State of Florida,” Lawson said. “With Hurricane Irma, we awarded $300 million so far, with Hurricane Michael we are working on our state action plan.”

Click HERE to watch the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line public affairs program.

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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.

Gov. Scott: Florida’s Tourism Industry Booming, Achieves Highest Quarter Ever

On June 5, 2018, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida welcomed an all-time record 33.2 million visitors to the Sunshine State in the first quarter of 2018. This represents an increase of 7.4 percent over the same period in 2017 and is the largest quarter for visitation in Florida history.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Florida set an all-time record by welcoming over 33 million visitors to our state during the first quarter of 2018. This historic tourism number represents a 7.4 percent increase over last year and demonstrates the momentum that our state has built. Since December 2010, Florida has created more than 1.5 million jobs, and a large part of this growth is because of the incredible success of our state’s tourism industry. I appreciate the team at VISIT FLORIDA and their help making these historic numbers possible.”

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a record 29.1 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in Q1 2018, an 8.5 percent increase in domestic visitors over the same period last year. Following efforts by VISIT FLORIDA and Governor Scott to better market Florida visitation in Canada, 1.4 million Canadians came to Florida in Q1 2018, an increase of 2.5 percent from Q1 2017, continuing Florida’s strong growth of 4 percent in calendar year 2017. Total enplanements at Florida’s 18 major airports in Q1 2018 increased 7.6 percent over the same period the previous year, with Orlando International Airport reporting the most enplaned passengers at nearly 6 million. Of total enplanements, 80.1 percent were domestic, up 1.4 million compared to Q1 of last year. The number of rooms sold and the hotel occupancy rate in Q1 2018 also grew by 3.3 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.

Ken Lawson, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said, “This record setting quarter of 33.2 million visitors to our state, the largest quarter in our state’s history, shows that VISIT FLORIDA is marketing our state like never before. With the help of our 12,000 industry partners, we saw a historic 7.4 percent increase over last year, which is fantastic news. We will continue developing more innovative and cutting-edge marketing programs to build on this success across the country and across the world. I am very proud of our team’s efforts as we continue to market Florida as the number one global destination.”

 

To view additional Florida visitor data, go the research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website.

Tourism is Key to Florida’s Competitiveness

Florida reached another record-breaking year for tourism, by welcoming more than 116 million visitors from other states and countries in 2017.

Tourism is key to Florida’s competitiveness. The truth is that visitors to Florida help “pay the bills” and help ensure Floridians don’t pay a personal income tax.

Florida’s tourism industry brings in more than $6 billion in state taxes, and more than $5 billion in local taxes which in turn helps fund schools, improve healthcare and support other government services.

During tough economic times, investments in tourism marketing helped lift Florida up while also creating jobs for families. In fact, for every 85 visitors to Florida, one job is created.

Interestingly, first time visitors become long-term residents after learning of Florida’s welcoming and competitive business climate, and no personal income tax. And tourism is helping diversify Florida’s economy by increasing our international exposure – or increasing international trade in services.

However, one of the greatest benefits of Florida’s competitive advantage in tourism is that jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry are among the biggest training grounds for the skills employers are looking for.

At a time when Florida’s job creators are increasingly concerned with workforce quality, these are the very skills that will move Florida forward and support the 398,000 people looking for jobs.

While some jobs created are entry-level positions, Florida must continue to create an entry point into the workforce. This is especially important for helping the 2.9 million Floridians in poverty, by providing our residents with work-based solutions. We must keep in mind that the economic benefits of helping people into the workforce includes the opportunity to gain skills and earn an income – reducing dependence on social programs.

Through on-the-job training, internships and apprenticeships, employees learn valuable skills that contribute to a quality workforce in the future. Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry takes on-the-job training to new levels, and according to the U.S. Travel Association, two out of five workers that start their careers in hospitality end up earning six figures.

There’s little doubt that those who have moved to Florida – more than 100,000 in just the last year from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut – were first exposed to Florida as tourists. Florida will see increasing amounts of new residents from these states and others because of the change in tax laws benefiting Florida’s families and businesses. Florida Chamber Foundation’s Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish expects Florida’s population to expand by at least 400,000 residents during the next year. This means nearly 1,100 net new residents a day.

Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry are vital to Florida’s economy, and as Florida’s population continues to grow, so must our focus on making Florida the best place to live, work, and visit!

What Others Are Saying

  • Ken Lawson, President & CEO, VISIT FLORIDA: “Florida is open for all tourists from all the states and all countries.”
  • Q&A with Jim Dean, President of SeaWorld, Orlando
  • Expedia: A Partner in Florida Tourism

Help Secure Florida’s Tourism Industry

Florida welcomed 116.5 million visitors from other states and other countries in 2017. As the third largest state in the nation, how does tourism impact Florida’s long-term future? When visitors come to Florida, they help create jobs and pay $6 billion in state taxes and $5.3 billion in local taxes. Sales and other taxes paid by visitors help keep Floridians from having to pay an income tax. In fact, visitors to Florida pay in taxes the equivalent of $1,535 per Florida household. Tourism in Florida not only helps create jobs, but also allows Floridians in those jobs to acquire employability skills.

If you believe Florida’s tourism industry can continue to lead the way in the nation, sign the petition today.

Ken Lawson on the Importance of Tourism Industry

 

View New Scorecard Data on International Visitors
 

“Florida is open for all tourists from all the states and all countries”

According to research from TheFloridaScorecard.org, in 2017 Florida welcomed 116.5 million visitors who spent $111.7 billion in our stated. We caught up with Ken Lawson, President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA who shared his thoughts on the importance of tourism to Florida’s economy.

Click the video below to see why this industry matters.

 

“People depend on tourism for their jobs, that creates more opportunities… Tourism ensures that our state is competing against other states and countries for those dollars that drive our economy.”

Ken Lawson, President & CEO, VISIT FLORIDA

Florida Chamber President Provides Hurricane Irma Economic Outlook During Testimony Before Senate Commerce Committee

 

Read Testimony   Fight AOB Fraud    Local Chamber Relief Fund

 

In a testimony before the Florida Senate Commerce Committee, Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson told lawmakers that Florida will rebound from Irma.

During his remarks to the committee, which is chaired by Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), Wilson encouraged lawmakers to focus on continuous improvement and to join forces with the private sector to help secure Florida’s future.  Click here to read Wilson’s testimony.

Irma yielded the largest evacuation in U.S. history, and as Wilson explained, there’s no question we’ll learn lessons from this storm. From an economic outlook perspective, Wilson testified that:

  • Tax revenue likely won’t keep up with storm expenses,
  • Job growth will continue to slow,
  • A gap in skilled labor – particularly for home repairs and rebuilding – will hurt in the short-term, and
  • Lawsuit chasers, as highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, “are trying to milk the public’s pain for their own gain.” Wilson encouraged lawmakers to side with consumers in frivolous class action claims.

Looking forward, he applauded state leaders for making smart public policy decisions to reduce exposure and spread risk in Citizens Property Insurance and Florida’s CAT Fund. However, he warned that the tsunami of assignment of benefit-related claims that have flooded the market – unrelated to Hurricane Irma – are causing property insurance rates to skyrocket. He encouraged lawmakers to make meaningful reforms this session.

Wilson was joined on the panel by partners in Florida’s business community, including:

  • Cissy Proctor, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Ken Lawson, President & CEO, VISIT FLORIDA
  • Michelle Dennard, President and CEO, CareerSource Florida
  • Cheryl Kirby, Associate State Director, Florida SBDC
  • Lance Lozano, Chief Operating Officer, Florida United Business Association

 

Call on the Legislature to Fight AOB Fraud

Fight back against the growing storm of assignment of benefits fraud. Sign the petition and call on the Legislature to stop this “Category 5 hurricane.”

 

Support Local Chambers in Need

Support local chambers in need of relief following Hurricane Irma by contributing to the Florida Chamber Local Chamber Relief Fund.