Lawmakers Tour Boyd Industries Manufacturing Facility in Clearwater
The Florida Chamber of Commerce partnered with Board of Governors member Boyd Industries to host Senator Jeff Brandes and Representative Ben Diamond for a tour of their manufacturing facility in Clearwater. Senator Brandes and Representative Diamond met with Boyd Industries employees, who are also their constituents, to see advanced manufacturing processes in action.
Following the tour, Senator Jeff Brandes, who earned an “A” grade and an Honor Roll award from the Florida Chamber said, “Boyd Industries is a true leader in the dental industry right here in our back yard. It is exciting to see manufacturing jobs continuing to grown in the state of Florida.”
Representative Ben Diamond, a 2018 Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate Award winner, said “It was great getting to visit with the Boyd Industries team, and to see a factory like this one employing so many people in our community. I am so impressed with the work they are doing, and very much appreciate their interest in our state’s legislative process. We are lucky to have a company like this one in Pinellas County.”
Boyd Industries, which began in 1957 has been a partner with the Florida Chamber for nearly a year now. Their dedication to ensuring they provide the best quality products for dental practitioners has made them a leader in manufacturing dental specialty equipment. With products made in the U.S.A and a home base located right in Clearwater, Florida, Boyd Industries has spent more than fifty years creating jobs and products that spur economic growth within Florida.
“I appreciate the work that Senator Brandes and Rep Diamond are doing to enact policy to help companies like Boyd grow,” said Adrian LaTrace, President and CEO at Boyd Industries, “Boyd continues to add more Florida-based jobs due in large part to Florida’s pro-business climate and support for international expansion.”
We thank Boyd Industries for taking the time to meet with us and we applaud your commitment to moving Florida forward.
Help Grow Florida’s Manufacturing Industry
Growing Florida’s manufacturing industry is essential, especially as Florida continues to be a global hub for trade. Florida’s manufacturing industry provides more than 90 percent of Florida exports and creates private-sector jobs while diversifying Florida’s economy. To help the Florida Chamber fight for you in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., please take a moment to complete our executive survey.
Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) has approved policies to encourage adding storage batteries to homeowners who use solar energy to power their homes. JEA currently produces 50 megawatts of solar power. That number will jump to 250 megawatts by 2019. The new policies will reduce the $0.10 per kilowatt hour of energy that homeowners are paying now to $0.03 per kilowatt hour.
A recent Jacksonville Business Journal article, JEA Shakes Up Solar Policies, discusses how JEA’s new policies are helping to securing Florida’s future.
JEA unanimously approved Tuesday policies to increase the authority’s reliance on solar energy, to cut an incentive for homeowners to install solar panels and to create an incentive for homeowners to add storage batteries to their solar arrays.
JEA will add up to 250 megawatts of solar power to its energy portfolio. It is budgeting up to $50 million to buy land for solar farms, which could be operational by late 2019. This addition of solar power, which dwarfs the 50 megawatts currently produced by JEA, would make Jacksonville the largest solar community in the United States per capita, based on projections of other cities’ portfolios.
JEA staff members lauded solar power in their presentation to the board of directors. They noted that solar power had reached price parity with fossil fuel generation and that JEA customers are increasingly adding solar panels to their homes. The cost to install solar systems has fallen 70 percent since 2010, leading to a 68 percent annual growth rate for the industry nationwide, according to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Yet, JEA is rolling back net metering benefits that homeowners rely upon to justify the high upfront cost of solar system installation. Under the current net metering policy, which began in 2009, homeowners with solar systems receive $0.10 per kilowatt hour of energy that they produce above their consumption. Starting Apr. 1, this will roll back to just over $0.03 per kilowatt hour. However, those currently receiving the $0.10 payout will be grandfathered in for the next 20 years.
The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee is taking action to improve Florida’s waterways. Committee chair Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, has proposed SB 204 to lawmakers. The bill would spend at least $75 million per year on natural spring projects. The bill also budgets for $50 annually for projects restoring the St. Johns River and other side streams.
A Senate panel on Monday cleared a ‘water bill’ aimed at cleaning up some of the state’s waterways.
The Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee OK’d the measure (SB 204) with a unanimous vote. Legislative committees are meeting in the Capitol this week, in advance of the 2018 Legislative Session that starts in January.
The bill, by committee chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, would approve spending at least $75 million a year on springs projects and $50 million annually on projects related to the restoration of the St. Johns River—the longest entirely within Florida—and its tributaries, as well as the Keystone Heights Lake Region.
Bradley said it’s “incredibly important” that the river “remain healthy”: “It really defines the character of so much of our state.”
But, he added, “there’s a limited pie of dollars and we need to figure out where to put them,” he added, referring to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
Chambers of Commerce Oppose Existing Triumph Legislation
Originally Published in the Panama City News Herald, April 14, 2017
By TOM McLAUGHLIN The state’s Chamber of Commerce opposes a couple of the strings lawmakers want attached to the money coming to Northwest Florida from the BP oil spill settlement.In a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson makes the case that preventing the region from spending its $300 million BP windfall on economic development and tourism marketing is counterproductive.
“In 2013, the Florida Legislature created Triumph Gulf Coast, a nonprofit corporation, to administer funds as a result of the BP settlement from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Wilson’s letter said. “Triumph funding was to be used for programs and projects that encourage economic recovery.”
Alleging that “current legislation prohibits these non-taxpayer dollars from being used for economic diversification or tourism marketing efforts,” Wilson claims in his letter lawmakers “will put Northwest Florida at a competitive disadvantage.”
“The Triumph funding was a path toward attracting large-scale, competitive projects,” the letter said. “But now economic development projects are off the table in this move by the Florida Legislature. Taking economic development strategies that work off the table is shortsighted.”
The letter cites research conducted by a state Chamber Foundation economist that indicates both the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin metropolitan statistical area and the Panama City-Lynn Haven metropolitan statistical area rank among the “least diversified economies in the entire state.”
Northwest Florida relies heavily on tourism and the military to drive their economies. Tourism dried up following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, at the same time deep military cuts were being made because of sequestration.
After the spill, then-state Senate President Don Gaetz introduced legislation calling for 75 percent of all BP legal settlement dollars to go to eight coastal Northwest Florida counties most directly affected by the oil spill.
Gaetz, who often said “when the military catches cold Northwest Florida gets the flu,” argued the severe downturn the region suffered following the spill pointed out the limitations of its two-tiered economy.
Triumph Gulf Coast was conceived by Gaetz as a nonprofit run by a five-member board of directors that would allocate BP dollars to economic projects that could help diversify the region.
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran strongly opposes providing incentive money to convince businesses to locate or expand in an area. He refers to the practice as “corporate welfare.”
Corcoran has advocated doing away with Enterprise Florida, the state’s business recruitment agency, and severely cutting back funding to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm.
The Destin and Greater Fort Walton Beach Area chambers of commerce crafted a letter of their own about Triumph Gulf Coast. It largely echoes the Florida chamber’s position.