This is my first message of 2016. I hope you are as busy as we are at the Chamber. I have to thank my team that works with me in the office every day. They are working harder than they ever have to keep up with all that’s happening. Their efforts will ensure you’re receiving maximum benefits from the work your Chamber is doing.
I’d also like to thank the 2016 Board. They’ve really supported our ideas and thoughts and direction for our 50th year. I hope you’ll be a part of all we are doing to celebrate this impressive milestone. Mark your calendar for the 50th Anniversary Celebration Party on Sept. 15, at the Henderson. It’s sure to be the party of the half-century!
Rather than bring you all the information I can about our upcoming events, I’m going to go a different direction this time. (You can find all the event information you need at DestinChamber.com.) I want to tell you about some things we do that you usually don’t hear about. But these are just as important because it helps us set a tone for the economy, the business environment, and overall quality of place we enjoy in Destin and Florida.
We’ve been busy in the government affairs arena the first seven weeks of the year. So far, we’ve passed a resolution supporting the Okaloosa County TDD in its efforts to bring most of its marketing in-house. We feel this will give us more local control and oversight on the marketing and advertising strategies for our tourism marketing. We’ll continue to work with the TDD on these efforts.
We’ve also worked with Representative Matt Gaetz, providing him input on his bill that would permit the use of 10% of TDD bed tax dollars to be used for law enforcement. Rep. Gaetz was very cooperative with the Chamber Board in working through our concerns for uses of that money. While we, as a Chamber Board, are still not convinced this is the best use of the TDD money, because the use of the funds is optional, we felt it was the right direction. We have other ideas on how to fund the need for increased law enforcement, but we are only in preliminary discussions with those ideas.
The Board has again passed a resolution supporting $250 million for marketing dollars for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency. Many states across the nation are spending hundreds of millions of dollars pushing their message to lure and attract new businesses to their states. We feel Florida needs to do the same. Florida has led the nation in private sector job creation the last several months. We need to continue that. We need high-skill, high-wage jobs in the state and in Okaloosa and Walton counties to support the projected growth expected by 2030. Did you know projections show that Florida’s population will balloon by 6 million people by 2030? We need employment opportunities for them. Visit FlChamber.com for more information.
In late 2015, the Chamber Board passed a resolution supporting the elimination of the business rent tax. Florida is the only state in the country that still charges sales tax on commercial leases. We joined the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of 28 other chambers in the state to work toward reducing this tax. Thanks again to Rep. Gaetz, it appears that a permanent cut of 1% in the tax will come this year, with an optional 1% cut for the following year. We’ll continue to monitor this issue and work to reduce, or even eliminate, this tax.
As you can see, the Board has been working diligently to make Destin and Florida a better place to do business. After all, our mission statement is ‘Advocating for Businesses, Strengthening our Community.’ We’ll continue to work for you!
With wishes for continued success, and until next time,
Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP
Destin Chamber President and CEO