Robin Sollie, president and CEO if the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, addresses Gov. Rick Scott during his March 22 Fighting for Florida Jobs Roundtable at Allen Sports Center in Seminole.
SEMINOLE – Following a Florida House vote to kill Enterprise Florida and limit Visit Florida earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott is back on the road in an effort to save the agencies ahead of a State Senate vote.
Joined by new Visit Florida CEO, Ken Lawson, Scott’s latest stop brought him to Seminole’s Allen Sports Center, where he defended the agencies to local leaders and business owners, March 22.
During the Fighting for Florida Jobs Roundtable, Scott called out local legislators who voted against the agencies, including Pinellas County Reps. Larry Ahern, James Grant, Chris Latvala and Chris Sprowls.
“It’s shocking to me that the House of Representatives and many of your local House members voted to eliminate Enterprise Florida and limit Visit Florida,” Scott said.
Local Reps. Ben Diamond, Wengay Newton and Kathleen Peters voted in favor of the agencies.
Scott credited Enterprise Florida with boosting the state’s economy through job creation, and touted the economic impact of tourism in the state, stressing the importance of Visit Florida’s marketing reach to other states.
“If we’re the only state that’s not marketing, [tourists are] not going to come here,” he said.
Roger Edelman, city councilor and president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, spoke out against defunding the agencies.
“We all need Enterprise Florida. We need the value that it gives us to go out and market Florida,” he said. “Every state has an agency that markets. If we defund those two, who is going to market for us? Who is going to be supporting us in the community and our businesses? I have significant concern over that.”
Rick Butler, vice mayor of Pinellas Park, echoed the concerns.
“To see what’s going on in their minds [in Tallahassee] is beyond me. To see what this is going to cost us is beyond me,” he said.
Butler also spoke against proposed legislation that would eliminate Community Redevelopment Agencies throughout the state. He said city and county authority to create CRAs allows local governments to enhance and rejuvenate neighborhoods. The CRA measure being considered would block the formation of new CRAs and prevent those in existence from funding new projects.
“I don’t understand how it’s gotten to this point,” he said.