The 2017-18 Leadership Pensacola (LeaP) class made their annual trip to Tallahassee in February to hear from the state government officials and see the Florida Legislature in action.
On day one, the class heard from Florida Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, as well as representatives from the Attorney General’s office and from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The class then watched the Florida House of Representatives from the House gallery and was recognized by members of the Northwest Florida delegation. That evening, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran provided keynote remarks at the LeaP class dinner.
The next day, members of the Northwest Florida delegation provided their perspectives on the 2018 legislative session and how the members of the LeaP class can become engaged in the political process. The class heard from State Representatives Mel Ponder, Clay Ingram, and Frank White as well as State Senators Doug Broxson and George Gainer. We appreciate our elected officials taking time out of their busy schedules to address the LeaP class.
The class also received an overview of the legislative priorities of the Florida Chamber of Commerce from Joshua Gabel, Director of Grassroots Development and Engagement at the Florida Chamber. Gabel provided useful data about Florida’s future growth and how the business community needs to prepare for this growth.
As a part of their statewide “Road Show”, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) visited Pensacola on February 27th to take citizen input on proposals that had been approved by CRC committees. Over 140 citizens spoke at the meeting, which lasted almost six hours.
Commissioner and former Senate President Don Gaetz presided over the meeting and called up individuals to speak on the thirty-seven issues that have passed through the committee process. Gaetz admonished audience members that cheered or booed speakers, so audience members were given red or green cards to hold up to show their support or opposition to a speaker. Each speaker was given two minutes to make their points.
Some of the popular items discussed by speakers include Proposal 29 which would force businesses to use the E-Verify system for checking the immigration status of employees. Many attendees spoke on Proposal 67, which would prohibit gambling on greyhound racing is Florida. Participants spoke in favor of Proposal 91, which would ban oil and gas drilling in the nine miles of Florida state waters.
Due to commitments related to the legislative session, a number of commissioners were unable to attend the hearing. Following the final stops on the CRC’s Road Show, the commissioners will determine which items will be placed on the 2018 November ballot for consideration by Florida voters. A proposal will need 60% approval by voters to become a part of the constitution.
The Greater Pensacola Chamber spoke in favor Proposal 91 and in opposition to Proposal 29. You can see Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs, Todd Thomson speak on behalf of the Chamber at the 52-minute mark in this video:
The topic of a new convention center/indoor sports facility in Escambia County is still being researched. To further the conversation on the topic, Susan Sieger with Crossroads Consulting recently provided a presentation on what type of facility would be most appropriate for Escambia County.
Crossroads Consulting was initially tasked with providing a study of the need for an indoor sports facility in Escambia County. Over the past few years, the concept has evolved into the potential of a facility that could host sports competitions, conventions, meetings, and other events. The Greater Pensacola Chamber Foundation was one of the initial investors in the indoor sports facility study. The latest study focused on meeting space demand in Escambia County.
The meeting space study produced by Crossroads Consulting demonstrated that there is a need for this type of facility in the Pensacola area and that a facility with adequate meeting space would be an economic benefit to the area, contributing jobs and generating additional revenue.
You can view the Crossroads Consulting New Meeting Facility Report here.
The Triumph Gulf Coast Board did not meet in February. The next scheduled Triumph Gulf Coast meeting will be held in Milton on March 16th.
The Greater Pensacola Chamber has teamed with the Home Builders Association of West Florida and the Pensacola Association of Realtors to commission the State of Housing and Economic Study of Escambia County. Dr. Rick Harper will present the results of this study during a March 14th luncheon at Skopelos at New World. Deadline to purchase your ticket is MARCH 9th. For more information and tickets go HERE.
Leaders from business, government and the military attended the Northwest Florida Military Fly-In to Washington DC to discuss the future of military bases in Northwest Florida. Attendees heard from officers representing the various branches of the armed forces providing overviews on topics ranging from trends in defense spending, public/private partnerships and the economic impact of the military in Northwest Florida.
The economic impact of the military in Northwest Florida and Escambia County is substantial. The annual regional economic impact for Northwest Florida is over $22.1 billion a year providing 182,449 jobs. Direct defense spending in Northwest Florida is over $8 billion a year. In Escambia County, the economic impact of the military is over $7.6 billion a year and there are 60,589 military jobs in Escambia County. There is almost $2.2 billion of direct defense spending in Escambia County a year.
Chamber board members Steve Moorhead, Keith Hoskins and Dave Hoxeng attended the fly-in and participated in the various sessions. There were also panel discussions moderated by Congressman Matt Gaetz that focused on military mission testing in the Gulf of Mexico and what can be done through the legislative process to enhance military readiness.
The Chamber will remain engaged with our business and military partners to continue to make Escambia County a welcome home to our current and future missions.