The Business Case for Economic Prosperity

 

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In a recent blog post submitted to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center, the Florida Chamber Foundation discusses why businesses have the unique ability to help create economic prosperity.
 

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s mission is a simple, yet significant one – to secure Florida’s future. Through our efforts to develop foundational research, inform and educate businesses, and convene business leaders and stakeholders in in-depth discussions, we work to identify the challenges and opportunities that Florida has not just today, but 20 or more years from now. In fact, this mission is the basis of our Florida 2030 research, which over the course of two years has taken us to all 67 counties in our state, where we heard from more than 10,000 Floridians on the issues that matter to them.

One of those issues? Economic prosperity.

Consider the following:

  • There are 28 counties in Florida with a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher.
  • 44 percent of Florida’s 7.5 million households cannot afford the basic needs.
  • More than 3 million Floridians live in poverty. Of those, more than 944,000 are kids under age 18.
  • If we don’t do something today, 133,329 additional children in Florida will live in poverty by 2030.

So, how do we go about securing our state’s future if nearly 1 in 6 Floridians live in poverty?

Believe it or not, even after years of leading this discussion, we are still asked why the state chamber is driving these conversations. And when businesses ask us if the challenge of creating opportunities for economic prosperity for all Floridians is one of economic or moral significance, our answer is “yes” to both.

We believe all leaders in our state should be working together to ensure every Floridian – regardless of their circumstances – has the opportunity to lead successful and meaningful lives. And while there will always be situational poverty – the kind stemming from temporary setbacks – business leaders can play a strong and crucial role in helping break the cycle of generational poverty.

At the Florida Chamber Foundation, we took on the challenge of trying to identify what economic prosperity means for Florida and to educate businesses on how complex the issue of poverty is. Our Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity Report culminates years of research and analyzes poverty rates in all of Florida’s counties, and identifies the challenges that keep people from rising out of generational poverty. This report also identifies a few key opportunities to prepare our state’s workforce and create economic opportunity, which include employing two-generational strategies which recognize that focusing on interventions for children living in poverty without addressing the needs of the parents of those children leads to sub-optimal results, focusing on early learning initiatives so that students have a chance to succeed from a young age, creating workplace based solutions, and ensuring that low-income families have access to the services they need.

We are taking our research and our words and turning them into action. We are traveling the state to talk about economic prosperity, and bringing together businesses, non-profit organizations, community leaders, elected officials and more to discuss best practices and steps toward action at our annual Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity Summit.

Florida has led the way in economic growth and opportunity. We can and must do more to break the cycle of generational poverty by focusing on creating opportunities for all Floridians, especially those born into poverty. And with the business community leading the way, we can be successful.

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KORUS

U.S. and South Korea agree to begin the process to make amendments to Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). No details are yet available on the specific changes that will be made. U.S. and South Korea plan to use the agreement’s special “joint committee” process to make changes to the agreement rather than embark on a NAFTA like re-negotiation

The Administration and the President have indicated throughout the summer their desire to renegotiate or withdraw from KORUS – with the most serious statements coming at the beginning of September.

Over the summer, a rare bi-partisan letter from Congressional leaders overseeing the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees called for the White House to pursue further discussions instead of pulling out of a pact with an important economic and geopolitical partner, particularly at a time of heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement opposing pulling out of KORUS.

KORUS is five years old – nowhere near as mature as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  The U.S. currently maintains a trade deficit in good exports with South Korea.  Its important to note that trade is more than exports.  The U.S. also maintains a services exports surplus with South Korea.  While origin-exports are important drivers of economic growth — according to the Department of Labor—it is important to note that 80% of the U.S. work-force works in the service sector.

KORUS also includes an investment chapter that is designed to facilitate bilateral investment between the U.S. and South Korea. By any measure, the United States is the net beneficiary here. Korea is the 14th largest foreign direct investor in the United States with significant new investments in the horizon.  The Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors has stated that it plans to increase investment into the U.S. by 50% to $3.1 billion over five years and may build a new plant there. LG Electronics also is looking to increase investment by building a manufacturing facility in the U.S.

While there are opportunities to grow trade and tap into the South Korean market, KORUS agreement still has some matter to address such as issues relating to regulatory transparency, customs clearance, and regulatory overreach. Florida trade with South Korea has increased 86 percent since 2011.

Pushing Back Against Overreaching Federal Regulations

Florida Chamber Holds Washington, D.C. ‘Fly-In’ to Meet With Lawmakers/Federal Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 9 , 2015) – With job creators facing a tidal wave of overreaching federal regulations, the Florida Chamber of Commerce this week is leading a delegation of board members on a “Washington, D.C. Fly-In,” meeting with members of Florida’s Congressional delegation – urging their support of job creators and pushing back against burdensome regulations.

Overreaching federal regulations is the number one concern of Florida Chamber members and partners, according to its latest Florida Business Agenda survey.

“Florida companies are increasingly concerned about the tsunami of federal regulations headed their way,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber.

“The Florida Chamber’s Washington, D.C. Fly-In allows our members and partners to serve as citizen lobbyists, side-by-side with our professional advocacy team, to further strengthen the voice of Florida’s business community and to say enough is enough when it comes to overreaching federal regulations.”

In recent weeks, the Florida Chamber has officially opposed numerous overreaching federal regulations, including:

• EPA’s Waters of the U. S. Rule
• EPA’s Ozone Regulations Rule
• EPA’s Clean Power Plan Rule
• Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule

The Florida Chamber’s Washington, D.C. Fly-In includes meetings with:

• Congresswoman Corrine Brown
• Congressman Vern Buchanan
• Congressman Carlos Curbelo
• Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart
• Congressman David Jolly
• Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen
• Congressman Daniel Webster
• U.S. Chamber of Commerce
• U.S. Department of Agriculture

During the two-days of meetings, the Florida Chamber team also discussed:

• Reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank
• Transportation reauthorization (related to surface transportation)
• International trade

Spearheading this Florida Chamber advocacy opportunity are Alice Ancona, Director of Global Outreach, and Drew Preston, Chief of Staff & Vice President, Office of the President.

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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.

U.S. Chamber Honors Florida Members of Congress

The U.S. Chamber recently released its annual How They Voted scorecard and recognized nearly 250 Members of Congress with the Spirit of Enterprise Award for their 2014 votes.  In Florida, the recipients were:

  • Sen. Marco Rubio
  • Rep. Jeff Miller
  • Rep. Ander Crenshaw
  • Rep. John Mica
  • Rep. Daniel Webster
  • Rep. Richard Nugent
  • Rep. Gus Bilirakis
  • Rep. David Jolly
  • Rep. Dennis Ross
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan
  • Rep. Tom Rooney
  • Rep. Patrick Murphy
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

We are proud of the members of the Florida Delegation for their commitment to securing Florida’s future. For more information or to view the U.S. Chamber’s document, click here.

Florida Chamber’s International Days Focuses on Making Florida More Competitive

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

Global Economic Opportunities Takes Center Stage

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (April 8, 2015) – International businesses leaders joined forces today at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s International Days to focus on making Florida more competitive through global economic opportunities. Leaders from Shanghai to Canada, representatives from Fortune 500 companies and Florida’s 15 deep water seaports, the state’s leading economic development and transportation agencies are taking part in the state’s premier international event.

Global trade is big business in Florida. International business and foreign direct investments accounts for about 17 percent of Florida’s economic activity and supports more than one million Florida jobs. Florida is also home to more than 60,000 firms dedicated to bringing their goods and services to consumers around the globe – many of them small to medium sized businesses.

“It’s Florida’s time because we are in the right position, we have the right culture, we have the right infrastructure,” said Lee Sandler, chair of the Florida Chamber’s International Business Council. “So Florida, and Floridian companies, are really in a position to take advantage of the global economy in ways we didn’t have available before.”

In Florida, global trade means high-wage jobs and economic prosperity. According to a recent Florida Chamber Foundation Did You Know, Florida is the seventh largest exporter of state-origin products.

“Florida has come a long way in building international economic development efforts, but our work is far from over,” said Doug Davidson, Market Executive of Global Commercial Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “At Bank of America, we support the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research in trade and logistics because we know that Florida’s future lies in being globally competitive.

Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Secretary of Commerce Bill Johnson kicked-off the two-day event, and additional speakers will include Secretary of Transportation Jim Boxold, along with keynote speakers: Fredrik Eliasson, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, CSX Transportation, and John Murphy, Senior Vice President for International Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A complete line up of panels and speakers is located 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.

Employing People With All Abilities

Building a competitive business climate in our state requires fostering a diverse talent pool for businesses to choose from. Each industry has a need, just as each Floridian does. Yet, as we continue to focus on getting Floridians back to work, there is a large population that often gets overlooked. In 2013, the unemployment rate for people with a disability was 13.2 percent, compared with a 7.1 percent unemployment rate for people with no disability. This important group of prospective employees represents a large untapped pool of skills and talent in the U.S.

Successful businesses recognize that a diverse staff positively impacts their company. A report by the National Governor’s Association states that businesses report positive outcomes from employing people with disabilities. These benefits include increased productivity and above average performance and quality of work.

In addition, as our state’s population ages, the number of people in the workforce aged 18-64 will shrink, requiring those who remain in Florida’s talent pool to be ready to meet the needs of businesses. Broadening the scope from which employees are hired can provide greater diversity as well as access to the necessary skills and experience.

So what can Florida businesses do to fill the gap between unemployed Floridians and business need?

To help make the transition from unemployed to employed, people with disabilities benefit from programs such as internships, on-the-job coaching and job skills-training. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) have developed a report highlighting businesses that excel at creating a more inclusive workplace, including leading companies such as Florida Blue, Wells Fargo and Northrop Grumman. Many of the companies outlined in the report have created programs that not only help their bottom line, but give many Floridians and their families’ opportunities that, without the private sector, would not be readily available.

In Florida, the Able Trust has developed an internship program to help businesses properly structure internships in their operations, for all temporary and seasonal jobs, and for employees with or without disabilities. The seminars, which will be hosted around the state, are free and include a comprehensive tool kit to assist businesses in properly structuring temporary work experiences in their operations.

“In today’s competitive economy, a company’s workforce must mirror the marketplace in order to understand the changing needs for goods and services,” said Dr. Susanne Homant, President & CEO, The Able Trust. “The  internship program the Able Trust has developed and is providing free of charge to Florida’s businesses, is designed to help employers provide work experiences that train potential employees and assist employers in accessing needed talent from the workforce made up of people with disabilities, at no risk to those businesses.”

For a list of upcoming programs or to find ways to find out more about hiring persons with disabilities, visit the Able Trust Internship Program event registration page or call 850-224-4493.

Want to Take Part in Securing Florida’s Future?

The Florida Chamber Foundation is currently recruiting the brightest minds from industry across the state to help us secure Florida’s future. If you would like to Join the Florida Chamber Foundation Board or Trustees or want to help prepare the Cornerstone 2030 report, contact Tony Carvajal today.

 

About the Florida Scorecard Did You Know:

The Florida Scorecard, located at www.TheFloridaScorecard.com, presents metrics across Florida’s economy. Each week, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Stat that takes an in-depth look at one specific statistic. If you would like additional information on the Weekly Scorecard Stat or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Tracey Lowe with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1226 or TLowe@FLFoundation.org.  You can also follow the Florida Chamber Foundation on Twitter at @FLChamberFDN.