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Florida Chamber unveils ambitious plan for job growth, diversified economy in 2016

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Florida’s Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to the upcoming Legislative Session with a new blueprint for the effort to advance jobs, economic growth and opportunity in the Sunshine State.

Now entering its 100th year, the Chamber unveiled its 2016 Legislative Agenda during a Tuesday news conference at the Florida Capitol. The Florida Legislature is scheduled to convene its 2016 Regular Session Jan. 12.

Presenting the agenda was Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson, Chamber Chairwoman Tracy Duda Chapman, senior VP/General Counsel of A. Duda & Sons Inc.; and Chamber Board Member Sydney Kitson, chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners.

Next year’s impressive wish list includes more than 30 scored items, each with the intent to make Florida more competitive. Among them are:

  • A tax climate that helps generate job growth (the Chamber supports Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for a $1 billion tax cut);
  • A talented workforce to fill those jobs (employing continued education reform);
  • A diversified economy, and further improving Florida’s business climate (the Chamber also supports Scott’s call for a $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund and other improvements to EFI);
  • improved quality of life through a science-based water policy; and
  • Smarter health care outcomes by way of increased transparency, competition and ending the cost shift.

According to Chamber representatives, Florida is clearly “making positive strides.” Among them are more than 941,000 private-sector jobs created since Scott first took office, as well as the nearly 3,000 regulations eliminated or improved and more than $1 billion in tax cuts. The chamber also praised Florida’s unemployment rate, which is at the lowest in seven years.

Estimates from Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish show that by December, Florida will have reached a significant milestone: 1 million net new private-sector jobs created under Scott, with another 220,000 new jobs next year.

However, Wilson cautions that now is no time for complacency, even as Florida continues to move in the right direction.

“Florida is in competition for private-sector jobs with other states,” Wilson said. “And therefore we must ensure a tax and business climate that is welcoming to job growth, ensure that we have a talented workforce to fill those jobs, ensure that Florida’s quality of life provides sustainable water resource solutions and that we lower the cost of health care through better outcomes.

“Now is the time to put Florida’s long-term economic security ahead of short-term political fixes.”

A complete list of Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda – the guideline of lobbying, tracking and scoring for the Legislative Session – is available in the group’s “Where We Stand” post on www.FloridaChamber.com.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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