Focus on Manatee: Chamber already focusing on 2014 legislative session

July 29, 2013 

Details matter.

That was one message Gov. Rick Scott had for business leaders when he visited with Manatee Chamber board members a few weeks ago. It was the second time in less than a year that the governor was in Manatee County to host a roundtable discussion with local businesses.

And, Manatee Chamber members were specific in sharing their ideas on what could help our employers, community and economy. We covered issues like transportation challenges on U.S. 301 in Ellenton requiring FDOT involvement, tourism messaging, Port Manatee and incentives for business expansion. The Manatee Chamber has voiced these and other ideas to our state's leaders in several face-to-face meetings over the past two months.

In fact, we've been joking that Tallahassee seems to have transplanted to Manatee County because of the number of elected state officials the Manatee Chamber has hosted over the past two months.

During one week in May we hosted Florida Speaker of the House Will Weatherford for a special guest luncheon meeting. We also hosted a roundtable discussion and news conference in our board room with Florida CFO Jeff Atwater. And, we started that busy week at our semi-annual "Pancakes & Politics" with our local state delegation sharing results of the legislative session and a look ahead to 2014.

These opportunities for state leaders to hear directly from Manatee County business leaders are critical to continuing Florida's recovery through pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-community legislation.

All of these opportunities are important because details matter -- and so does advocacy when it's delivered in person through meetings with elected officials. If the Chamber's not advocating, then who is? A huge strength for local businesses is that this is a top priority and focus of the Manatee Chamber. We dedicate tremendous resources to studying, monitoring and speaking out on issues that matter to our members.

While Florida's next legislative session doesn't convene until March of next year, we're already formulating and reaffirming our position on a number of issues we want to advocate in Tallahassee.

The topics range from economic development to education, transportation to the environment. We choose priorities to support our mission of building a positive business environment while en

hancing our community's quality of life.

And, it's important to note that our advocacy is focused on local and federal officials, too. Manatee County is blessed that business leaders get involved. They share their ideas, research their positions and strengthen their message through the power of the Manatee Chamber's 2,000+ businesses' voices. I encourage our members to share their thoughts on specific issues that could or do impact their business.

Neil Spirtas, vice president of public policy & small business for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at 941-748-3411 or NeilS@ManateeChamber.com.

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