Business Leaders Update Governor Crist on Florida’s Economic Climate (08/05/08)


For Immediate Release 
August 5, 2008   
Contact:
Governor's Press Office 850-488-5394

Business Leaders Update Governor Crist on Florida’s Economic Climate

~ Governor listens to needs of Florida business leaders ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today, continuing his focus on strengthening Florida’s economy, met with Florida business leaders as part of a Tallahassee Tuesday informal discussion at the Governor’s Mansion.  Governor Crist listened to the group’s ideas on how government can continue to nurture a business friendly environment.

“Florida has a good reputation for creating a business climate that allows entrepreneurs and business owners to succeed and provide jobs for Floridians,” Governor Crist said.  “As we move Florida’s economy forward, we must be sure to continue to listen to ways we can foster new businesses and give existing businesses the tools they need to grow.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, in 2007 Florida had an estimated 1,942,200 small businesses and was ranked as the third most efficient state in fostering the birth of new businesses, propelling growth in gross state product, state personal income, and total state employment.  The Tax Foundation in 2007 ranked Florida as having the nation's fifth most "business friendly" tax codes. Additionally, the Small Business Survival Index ranked Florida as the fifth friendliest state in the nation for entrepreneurship. 

Representatives from some of Florida’s top business organizations shared suggestions based on their business experience and expertise with Governor Crist.  On hand were Robert Parrish, president of the Florida Home Builders Association; Chuck Bonfiglio, president of the Florida Association of Realtors; Mark Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce; Ed Bustos, president of the Hispanic Business Investment Fund of Greater Orlando; and Susan Pareigis, president of the Council of 100, a diverse group of key business leaders who have advised Florida’s Governors since 1961 on promoting widely diversified Florida economy. 

“We recommend long-term investments that diversify our economy and create opportunities for Florida's entrepreneurs to flourish," said Mark Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Business owners participating in the Tallahassee Tuesday discussion were Tony Lapi, owner of Tween Waters Resort in Captiva, and Tallahassee business owners Keith Carr, Identity Theft Solutions; Fred and Nancy Sanguilano, Keystone Design; and Serge Osaulenko, The Crêpe Vine Restaurant.  Lt Governor Jeff Kottkamp and Dale Brill, director of the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, also listened to the group’s concerns and suggestions.

“The rise in food costs, daily operating expenses and fuel surcharges creates a business model that limits investors from helping business grow," said Serge Osaulenko, owner of The Crêpe Vine Restaurant in Tallahassee for more than two years.  "It is difficult to keep prices at their current levels, which is necessary to attract customers."

Later today, Governor Crist and Lt. Governor Kottkamp will visit the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI) to hear about the agency’s latest efforts to strengthen Florida’s economy through various workforce and unemployment programs, as well as the Office of Early Learning. AWI partners with Workforce Florida Inc., to create the Employ Florida network, which consists of 24 Regional Workforce Boards and 87 One-Stop Career Centers throughout the state.

“The Agency for Workforce Innovation is committed to Governor Crist’s priority of serving the people of Florida with excellence and a high level of customer service,” said Monesia Brown, director of Agency for Workforce Innovation.  “We will continue to focus on helping Floridians and ensuring easy access to job placement services and assistance.”

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