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Ken Lawson

Ken Lawson on VISIT FLORIDA funding: ‘Protect our people’

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Ken Lawson, CEO of the embattled VISIT FLORIDA, again pleaded with lawmakers to fully fund his agency, saying jobs depend on it. Lawson appeared before the Legislature’s tourism and economic development budget conference on Friday as Gov. Rick Scott left the state to attend a National Rifle Association meeting in Atlanta. Meantime, Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, has been “robo-calling” residents in key districts, asking them to encourage their lawmakers to vote for $200 million to start work on…

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Rick Scott pushes ahead for VISIT FLORIDA funding

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Gov. Rick Scott went once more unto the breach Tuesday, pressing his case for full funding of the state’s VISIT FLORIDA tourism marketing agency. The Republican governor—surrounded by VISIT FLORIDA’s CEO Ken Lawson, board chairman William Talbert, and others—spoke with reporters outside his Capitol office. The GOP-majority House of Representatives, which at first wanted to eliminate the agency, instead reduced its budget to $25 million for next year. Scott wants $100 million to market the state to visitors, saying every dollar…

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Personnel note: Cynthia Hefren named CFO of VISIT FLORIDA

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Cynthia Hefren is coming home: She will be VISIT FLORIDA‘s next chief financial officer, President & CEO Ken Lawson announced Wednesday. Hefren most recently was Assistant State Audit Supervisor for the North Carolina Office of the State Auditor. But she’s a Florida state government veteran, previously serving as: — Director of Auditing for the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation. — Executive Director of the Florida State Boxing Commission. — Operations & Management Consultant Manager for the Florida Department of Children…

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Rick Scott stumps for economic development, tourism dollars in Tallahassee

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Proponents of keeping Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA have been repeating the talking point that even Coca-Cola, king of market share, still advertises. And so on Monday, Gov. Rick Scott kept driving home his counter-frame to House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s “corporate welfare” narrative that killing the state’s economic development organization and tourism marketing agency will kill jobs. “Here in Tallahassee, we need to diversify the economy, we need to get more tourism, we need to get more manufacturing companies,” he said,…

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Assessing Visit Florida beneficiaries’ assertions, predictions and anecdotes

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As the debate over whether to fund or eliminate Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida escalates at the Florida Capitol, it’s important to consider that those who directly benefit from the mostly taxpayer-funded organizations are among their most vocal supporters. It’s natural, and predictable. It’s also entirely appropriate that incentives and tourism marketing recipients have the opportunity to make their case for continued funding. But their appeals shouldn’t always be taken at face value. Take Amy Lukasik, director of tourism marketing…

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Ken Lawson “will continue to fight” for VISIT FLORIDA

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Ken Lawson, the new head of VISIT FLORIDA, is telling supporters he won’t give up the fight for the state’s embattled tourism marketing agency. In an email, Lawson thanked the tourism industry for showing up to a House hearing this week where the Careers and Competition Subcommittee cleared a measure to eliminate the agency, the Enterprise Florida economic development organization and dozens of state incentive programs. “You showed up to help and your voice was heard,” Lawson said. “… I could not be prouder…

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David Wilkins consulting at struggling VISIT FLORIDA

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David Wilkins, who led the state’s perennially troubled child welfare agency, is now helping new CEO Ken Lawson right the ship at VISIT FLORIDA. An internal email sent Wednesday and shared with FloridaPolitics.com says Wilkins, secretary of the Department of Children and Families under Gov. Rick Scott in 2011-13, is “assisting VISIT FLORIDA in the review of some of our contracts, processes and procedures.” The email was sent to staff by Meredith DaSilva, the state tourism agency’s director of executive operations.…

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