Category Archives: Chamber Initiatives

Key Strategic Initiatives

21Jul/09

Education and Employment Fair- Free to Job Seekers and Exhibitors

Congressman Adam Putnam and Senator Mel Martinez will sponsor an Education and Employment Fair on August 4 in Plant City. The event is free to both individuals seeking employment and employers looking to hire. The following is a letter from Congressman Putnam.

Dear Friend,

        It is my pleasure to inform you of the upcoming Education and Employment Fair which I am hosting with my colleague in the United States Senate, The Honorable Mel Martinez.  The event is free to exhibitors and job seekers and will be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at the Plant City Campus of Hillsborough Community College, John R. Trinkle Center, 1206 N. Park Road, Plant City, FL 33563 from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

        Due to the state of the economy and its affect on unemployment, the Senator and I would like to notify all businesses, education providers, non-profit agencies and job seekers in Polk & Hillsborough Counties about the fair.  It is our hope to attract all businesses in need of one or more workers to participate as exhibitors. Please feel free to share this with your business networks to assist in us gaining more employer exhibitors.

        Please be so kind as to inform your human resources department, organization members and any individual seeking employment of this great opportunity. An informational flyer and exhibitor registration form are attached for your review.

        If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Pam Fuller or Cheryl Flood at 863-534-3530.  Thank you!

Sincerely,

Adam H. Putnam

Member of Congress

14Jul/09

Union Threat Increase

The U.S. Senate may be voting soon to consider a new version of the Employee Free Choice Act, S. 560. This act would take away the employee’s right to secret ballot in union organizing elections. Not only is the right to secret ballot taken away, but the right to employer negotiations with labor unions regarding union contracts is taken away as well. This provision would force retailers into a mandated contract after 120 days of negotiation.

The Employee Free Choice act will not just affect large businesses, but it will affect small businesses as well. S. 560 will make it easier for unions to organize. For example, if a business employs 10 people, it would only require 6 people to agree for the business to become unionized. The employees could be forced to agree under pressure or coercion because the voting is not private.

In the Senate, 60 votes are required to bring this dangerous piece of legislation up for “cloture” or final vote. Adopting this legislation would then only require 51 votes.  Supporters are claiming that they have 58 Democrats prepared to vote yes on cloture.  Please contact Senator Bill Nelson by phone or by email and request that he vote no on cloture for S. 560, the Employee Free Choice Act.

Senator Bill Nelson     (305) 536-5999 FL office      (202) 224-5274 DC office

24Jun/09

Governor Crist Vetos Property Insurance Bill

Florida Chamber Alert:

Today, Governor Charlie Crist vetoed Chamber-backed property insurance reform legislation – HB 1171.  Here is the Governor’s veto letter.

The Florida Chamber continues to believe that Florida is financially unprepared for a hurricane and that we must enact solutions to fix our state’s insurance crisis. The Chamber will continue to work closely with Gov.  Crist and the Florida Legislature to craft legislation to address this critical issue.

The report “Into the Storm: Framing Florida’s Insurance Crisis” by the Florida Chamber and The Florida Council of 100 outlines several of the policy recommendations we will continue to pursue.

24Jun/09

USF Poly sees nothing but Blue Skies

(Lakeland, Fla., June 24, 2009) – Late yesterday, as violent thunderstorms doused central Florida yet again, Marshall Goodman sent a tweet: “No need to worry about the rain, Central Florida. Blue Sky is coming soon!”

Goodman, VP and CEO of the University of South Florida Polytechnic, announced today that USFP’s business incubation facilities will be named Blue Sky. Earlier this year the Central Florida Development Council invested $700,000 toward the construction of an incubation facility on the new I-4 campus, expected to open in 2012. In the meantime, however, the community will be served by at least two incubation facilities: one in Lakeland and one in Winter Haven, dubbed Blue Sky West and Blue Sky East, respectively.

Blue Sky West will be a 6,428 square-foot location at 116 S. Kentucky Ave. in Lakeland. Blue Sky East will open at 199 Ave. B NW in Winter Haven with 3,000 square feet. USFP officials expect both facilities to open in early fall 2009.

A tweet refers to a post on Twitter, the popular social networking site. Goodman used the relatively new technology, as well as his personal Facebook page, to tease online followers not about the weather but about economic development in central Florida.

The Blue Sky facilities will be the first public business technology incubators in Polk County. They will focus on attracting and nurturing entrepreneurial businesses by creating a place where USF Poly faculty, staff and students can work with businesses to develop innovative technology.

“This is an important step for our region, as we cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation,” says Goodman.

“These facilities will provide opportunities for a wide range of enterprises. Some will be raw start-ups, and some will be more advanced. Regardless of the stage, Blue Sky represents an opportunity to thrive.”

According to Goodman, “The story of innovation is the story of entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship is all about calculated risk. That is the principle upon which we’ll base Blue Sky. We will provide a climate to nurture innovation.

“This is a huge opportunity, not only for entrepreneurs but also for investors. We hope it will bring to this area more technology-oriented businesses with the potential for growth and new jobs”

Initially, USF Poly will seek information technology companies interested in software, networking and developing specific IT projects.

“We have felt for the past five years at least that an incubator is integral to this region’s long-term economic success,” says Tom Patton, executive director of the Central Florida Development Council, which has donated a total of $1 million to the USF Poly incubator concept. In addition to the $700,000 for construction on the new campus, CFDC donated $300,000 for current operation of Blue Sky. USF Poly has pledged to match those operating funds to provide $600,000 to fund Blue Sky.

The $700,000 for construction will be used to apply for state matching funds and in pursuit of an Economic Development Administration grant. According to Patton, the long-term goal is a technology park that develops around the incubator at the heart of Florida’s High Tech Corridor.

“This is a major step forward in developing and growing our technology incubator,” says Steve Budd, USFP’s program director for entrepreneurship and venture planning. “It will become a living, learning laboratory for interdisciplinary and applied research, education and training that directly impacts technology commercialization and business development.

“Our incubator will be a focal point where the university’s academic development and our community’s economic development will blend and synergize to create a win-win for all stakeholders — the business community, our students, our faculty, and many others.  I believe that this is where the magic happens, where we will create high-tech, high-wage jobs.”

There are 7,000 incubators and counting around the globe, and they create jobs, grow companies and help technology evolve. President Obama has pledged $250 million a year in federal funds to seed a regional network of such organizations–an effort aimed at growing jobs and innovation.

“This is the first time in the U.S. that a new administration has made this kind of commitment to innovation, entrepreneurs and technology,” says Dinah Adkins, president and CEO of the National Business Incubation Association. “This is the first time we’ve had a presidential administration that wants to invest in this.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration says business incubators provide communities with significantly greater results at less cost than do any other type of public works infrastructure project.

A recent study conducted for the U.S. Economic Development Administration showed that business incubators provide communities with significantly greater results at less cost than do any other type of public works infrastructure project. In the study of the economic impacts and federal costs of EDA construction program investments, researchers found that business incubators are the most effective means of creating jobs – more effective than roads and bridges, industrial parks, commercial buildings, and sewer and water projects. In fact, incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure projects (for example, water and sewer projects) at a cost of $144 to $216 per job compared with $2,920 to $6,872 for the latter, the report notes. For more information on the study visit www.nbia.org/works.

“Business incubators are critical components of the nation’s entrepreneurial support infrastructure and the only public works projects that were designed entirely as job generators,” says Adkins. “The jobs created by incubators aren’t one-time construction jobs, but enduring, high-paying positions that contribute to community and U.S. global competitiveness.”

Business incubation programs provide entrepreneurs with a guiding hand to help them turn their ideas into viable businesses.  Many thousands more jobs have been created by companies that have graduated from these programs and now operate self-sufficiently in their communities. For more information about business incubation and the EDA study, visit www.nbia.org/works.

For more information on Blue Sky see poly.usf.edu/BlueSky.