Getting Engaged

Open For Business Summit June 20, 2011

Regional Business Summit

Monday, June 20, 2011 7:00 am

Over 150 business and community leaders from across the region gathered at the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando on Wednesday for the Regional Business Summit, hosted by Open For Business-Central Florida Coalition for Growth & Prosperity and the Central Florida Congress of Regional Leaders.

The Coalition was established to address the region's economic recovery. Focused first on identifying economic and regulatory barriers, this broad-based coalition represents thousands of employers in the eight-county Central Florida service footprint made up of Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties. Included on the Coalition's Organizing Committee are Associated Builders & Contractors, Central Florida Partnership, Florida Bankers Association, Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando, Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, and WORKFORCE CENTRAL FLORIDA.

Open for Business Regional Business Summit Open for Business Regional Business Summit
Open for Business Regional Business Summit Open for Business Regional Business Summit
Click here for more photos from this event.

Presented during the Summit was current research and specific recommendations on how we can best address the regulatory and government barriers impacting business growth in our region. These recommendations are based on input from 900 surveys collected over nine days from business & community leaders and elected officials across eight counties of Central Florida. It was also noted that approximately 350 individual ideas and comments were provided by respondents.

Common themes that surfaced in the research were the political diversity of respondents, the fact that most companies do business in at least four of the counties in our region, the importance of regionalism, that business leaders are cautiously optimistic, and that most agree that Central Florida is moving in the right direction, with improvement expected next year.

Three specific action items were identified where the creation of regional solutions would significantly help to move Central Florida’s economic recovery forward: Creating Access to Capital; Streamlining Permitting and Licensing; and Reviewing Transactional Fees.

Suggestions and “best practices” provided during the Summit that could be advanced on a regional basis included:

Creating Access to Capital – Opportunities to further leverage non-profits and faith-based organizations to provide training and counseling on foreclosure issues; reduction of regulation on foreclosures which slow movement of homes back to market; and down payment assistance programs which are a critical piece to financing, as well as the role of the Federal Reserve Bank in the mortgage crisis.

Streamlining Permitting and Licensing – The need for a simplified, nimble, accelerated, permitting process (S.N.A.P. Brevard County); the creation of a regional permitting scorecard for cities and counties that would certify demonstrated excellence in streamlining the building and site permitting process; new one-stop-shopping for permitting in Orange County which adheres to the county’s mission “to serve” and on line permitting, where possible, that reduces time and duplication of effort.

Reviewing Transactional Fees – Many transaction fees today are still based on the property values and expected growth prior to the economic recession. The formulas should be reviewed and adjusted to encourage regional economic activity.

Stephen L. Precourt

As part of the program four special guests provided commentary on what was presented. The Honorable Stephen L. Precourt, Chair of the House Finance and Tax Committee, Florida House of Representatives (Dist. 41) emphasized the importance of initiatives in the Legislature to remove state barriers and encourage local control. He recommended the prioritization of resources, as well as the identification of specific actions and advocates in the Legislature, supported at home by the business community.

Adding to the community conversation were The Honorable Candace Lankford, Volusia County School Board; Robert M. Spooney, African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida; and Bud Beucher, CEO of Mission Inn in Lake County who commented that “It was a real pleasure to hear from Summit speakers. But, let’s not forget the most fundamental item. That is the sustainability of the small business owner, who by all accounts employs about three-fourths of all workers.”

Bud Beucher

He added, "Our family has been in Central Florida since the early sixties. We have a great story to tell…Grandfather had a 5th grade education, our father had one year of college. We came to Howey-in-the-Hills in 1964, purchasing 168 acres of land and growing our business from a handful of staff to over 240 today; unfortunately, this is down from 325. We are living the American dream…no hand outs, no entitlements. We have never missed a payroll or failed to pay a bill."

"But these are very exceptional times; the struggle is still in front of us," Beucher continued. "Most small businesses started our own cost control actions as much as 4 1/2 years ago. So it is over the top to expect the other half, the government sector, to be part of the solution too? If we believe in the American system then we know the small business person will be what gets us out this Great Recession."

The outcome of the Regional Business Summit is the formation of three Regional Work Groups. These Work Groups will be geographically-based, representing the public and private sectors, staffed by members of the Open for Business “Organizing Committee.”

"Streamline Permitting and Licensing" Work Group
Mr. Mark P. Wylie
Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc.
651 Danville Drive, Suite 200
Orlando, FL 32825
407.628.2070, Ext. 1272
Mr. Jacob V. Stuart
Central Florida Partnership
P.O. Box 1234
Orlando, FL 32802-1234
"Review Transactional Fees" Work Group
workforce central florida Home Builders of Metro Orlando
Ms. Elizabeth McGee
Home Builders Association
of Metro Orlando
544 Mayo Avenue
Maitland, FL 32751
"Create Access to Capital" Work Group
Metro Orlando EDC
Mr. Michael Kidd
Orlando Regional
REALTOR Association
1330 Lee Road
Orlando, FL 32810
Mr. Brian Walters
Metro Orlando Economic
Development Commission
301 East Pine Street, Suite 900
Orlando, FL 32801

It is estimated that each Work Groups will consist of 10-15 members who will meet at their own determination over the next 3-4 months, with the goal being to make recommendations before the end of November, prior to the 2012 Legislative Session. These final recommendations will be presented to the Central Florida Congress of Regional Leaders and to the “Organizing Committee,” for adoption and proposed action.

Each Work Group will have two (2) Co-chairs; one from the public and one from the private sectors. Co-chairs and Members of each Work Groups will be appointed by the “Organizing Committee” and will set their own calendars of work, advancing the specific goals addressed today.

If you have an interest in serving on one of these Work Groups, please contact the designated staff shown above or a Member of the “Organizing Committee.”

For video presentations and more on the Open For Business Regional Business Summit, click here. 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 – 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.”

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