Our Region

Community Celebrates “Open for Business”

Monday, December 17, 2012

In an unprecedented showing of regional collaboration, nearly 200 leaders representing government and business organizations across Central Florida gathered together on Friday, December 14, 2012, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, for a "Community Celebration" to announce the first-ever Regional Approach to Streamlining Permitting.

This is the first time in the nation that a region has worked together to develop such a far-reaching regional effort to streamline the permitting process. Working together with business leaders across the region, staff and elected officials from 31 pioneering Central Florida local governments developed a series of streamlining principles based on feedback from leaders in the business community and pledged to publicly document how the standards are applied.

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Above left: Elected officials and staff representing 7 "Open for Business" counties of Central Florida. Above right: Elected officials and staff representing 24 " Open for Business" cities of Central Florida.

Central Florida is the 188h largest region in the United States and home to over 3.8 million people. Research conducted by "Open for Business," a coalition of Central Florida business associations representing thousands of employers in the seven-county Central Florida service of Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, and Volusia counties, revealed that the 91 different permitting standards is one of the greatest barriers for businesses throughout the region.

"This regional approach to streamlining permitting will provide consistent base standards for all municipalities, allowing businesses to open faster, efficiently and more intelligently. It will also serve as a sounding board for businesses and municipalities to provide feedback on how government and business is working together to advance our region's economic recovery," said Brian Butler, President and CEO of JCB Construction and a co-chair of the "Open For Business" Regional Task Force, along with Maitland Mayor Howard Shieferdecker, that recommended tackling a regional approach to permitting.

"Open for Business" was successfully advanced by the following Founding Partners: Associated Builders & Contractors, Central Florida Partnership, Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando, Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, and Workforce Central Florida ; with Shelley Lauten, President of myregion.org, serving as Project Director.

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Above left: George Walton, Chair, myregion.org, Vice President, Parsons Brinckerhoff. Above right: Brian Butler, Co-Chair, "Open For Business Regional Work Group, President/CEO of JCB Construction.

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Above left: Howard Schieferdecker, Co-Chair, "Open For Business Regional Work Group, Mayor of Maitlan. Above right: Howard Tipton, Brevard County Manager.

Representing the Regional Work Group that developed these regional standards, Brevard County Manager Howard Tipton, shared with the audience the launch of the new website, www.openforbusinesscfl.org, which went live at this event and will provide one place where permitting standards for all 31 certified "Open for Business" jurisdictions can be found. In addition, Mr. Tipton encouraged all in attendance to explore the site and provide feedback, not only on the permitting standards, but other initiatives that the region should begin to tackle to enhance Central Florida's business climate.

Click here to learn more about this project: www.openforbusinesscfl.com

Led by Seminole County Commissioner John Horan, a group of business leaders representing large and small business owners discussed the economic impact this initiative will have on their respective businesses included: Adam Barringer, Mayor of New Smyrna Beach and owner of SoNapa Grille in New Smyrna Beach and Maitland; Scott Kearney, Real Estate Executive for Wawa convenience and food service stores, opening stores in multiple cities and counties across Central Florida; Ralph Merritt, Jr., President and Founder of Commercial Property Group, which has recently expanded from South Florida into Central Florida.

These leaders concurred that this project is sending a strong signal to the world that Central Florida is "Open for Business." The message this project sends to businesses looking to expand and grow in Central Florida is that by working together, business and government leaders are committed to making Central Florida the best place in the nation to grow business and create jobs.

This business-focused discussion was followed by comments from Kim Wilmes, Vice President of Marketing for Enterprise Florida and Dr. Dale Brill, President of the Florida Chamber Foundation. They offered congratulations for this focus in Central Florida on building collaboration to solve pressing economic issues and encouraged Central Florida leaders to continue "raising the bar" for other regions throughout Florida and around the nation.

"You have a reputation and a tradition for being "civic entrepreneurs" here in Central Florida," said Dr. Brill. "You have the opportunity and obligation to set the standards for others as we tackle the issues that matter most to all of us."

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Above left: John Horan, Seminole County Commissioner and member, "Open For Business Regional Work Group"; Shelley Lauten, President, myregion.org and Project Director, "Open For Business"; and Duane DeFreese, Executive Board of Advisors, myregion.org. Above right: Seminole County Commissioner John Horan discusses "Open For Business" with panelists Adam Barringer, Mayor of New Smyrna Beach and CEO, SoNapa Grille; Ralph Merritt, President of Commercial Property Group and Scott Kearney, Real Estate Executive, Wawa, Inc.

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Above left: Dr. Dale Brill, Florida Chamber Foundation. Above right: Kim G. Wilmes, Vice President, Marketing Enterprise Florida, Inc.

The event concluded with representatives from the 31 "Open for Business" Communities, facilitated by Jacob V. Stuart, President of the Central Florida Partnership, participating in a public "Signing Ceremony" in support of, and commitment to, working together to be "Open For Business."

To date, the following counties and cities have signed a Resolution of Support (click here to read more) documenting their approaches to the key principles that will promote business climate, great service, job creation and business investment, so that the business community can benefit from regional standards that are easily accessible:

Brevard County

City of Cocoa

City of Melbourne

City of Palm Bay

City of Rockledge

City of Titusville

City of West Melbourne

Lake County

City of Clermont

City of Groveland

City of Minneola

City of Tavares

Orange County

City of Apopka

City of Edgewood

City of Maitland

City of Orlando

Osceola County

City of Kissimmee

City of St. Cloud

Polk County

City of Auburndale

City of Haines City

City of Winter Haven

Seminole County

City of Sanford

Volusia County

City of DeLand

City of Deltona

City of New Smyrna Beach

City of Ormond Beach

This "Community Celebration" represents another important step forward, when it comes to this unprecedented regional cooperation and collaboration, helping to celebrate our communities working toward our shared goal to help advance the region's economic recovery, by helping to put working families back to work.

Click here to view the "Community Celebration" program.

Click here to view the video aired at the "Community Celebration."

For more information, go to www.myregion.org.

myregion.org is one of four lines of business by which the Central Florida Partnership focuses on "Regional Research and Resolves." By identifying and examining the changing demographics and powerful trends that are shaping the Central Florida Region – myregion.org is helping to identify the issues and challenges that affect our future.

Working together with Orlando, Inc., (Regional Entrepreneurship), BusinessForce (Public Policy Advocacy), and Leadership Orlando (Regional Leadership), the Central Florida Partnership is moving "Ideas to Results."

About myregion.org
Click here to learn more about myregion.org.
Click here for the myregion.org Executive Board of Advisors.