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February 18, 2009

Economic Stimulus Package 2.0 recommendations will create jobs, revenue
Barney Bishop ESP 2.0
Barney T. Bishop, AIF’s President and CEO, outlines the proposals included in the business community’s Economic Stimulus Package 2.0.Over 20 business groups have endorsed the package so far.

TALLAHASSEE – Members of Florida’s business community today unveiled recommendations to immediately inject revenue into the state’s economy and create thousands of jobs.  Joined by Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey), representatives from business associations and groups across the state lent their support to the Economic Stimulus Package 2.0 (ESP 2.0) which focuses on short-term, targeted infrastructure investments.  Topping the list were “shovel-ready” transportation, water infrastructure and deep-water port revitalization projects that could provide instant and high return on investment.

“Florida needs to capitalize on opportunities to jump-start our economic engine while working within the confines of our limited budget,” said Sen. Fasano.  “I appreciate the private sector pulling together to offer their valuable insight and suggestions on what we as a legislative body can do to better position Florida for an economic comeback.” 

A collaborative compilation of suggestions from more than 20 industry associations, the ESP 2.0 urges legislators to maximize Florida’s limited financial resources through infrastructure investments and funding for projects that have already been “green-lighted.” Additionally, the business community is encouraging government officials to consider these recommendations when making decisions regarding any funds the state may receive from the federal economic stimulus package.   

“The Economic Stimulus Package 2.0 offers recommendations that can put people to work and put food on tables now,” said Barney Bishop III, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida. “Further, this package suggests important regulatory reforms that can provide direct relief to Florida’s businesses without a big price tag.”

Investing in “shovel-ready” transportation projects not only offers an immediate opportunity to reinvigorate the economy, but also addresses Florida’s rising unemployment rate.  According to the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 billion invested by state governments in highway construction and improvements will support more than 27,000 jobs.  Studies have shown that the economic benefit of these projects could result in a $5.60 yield per $1 invested – an incredible return. 

Barney Bishop ESP 2.0
Craig Elmore, Vice-President of Hardrives, Inc., a road and highway contracting business, explains the importance of road projects in creating jobs and spurring economic activity.

Currently, the Florida Department of Transportation has identified $7 billion in “shovel-ready” projects that can begin within the next 90 to 120 days and can create an additional 195,000 jobs and $39 billion in economic benefits for Florida.

“These tough economic times have forced our family business to cut back from a workforce of 300 employees to 220.  I don’t want to have to look any more of my employees in the eyes and explain why I can no longer afford keep them on our payroll anymore,” said Craig Elmore, Vice President of Hardrives, Inc., a Delray Beach-based road/highway contractor.  “We need to invest in transportation projects that will get people back to work and paychecks in their hands today.  Right now, I have two yards full of equipment ready to roll and there are unemployed workers I can hire, but the projects need to be put in motion.”

Barney Bishop ESP 2.0
Also speaking at the press conference was Chuck Carden, Director of Operations and Facilities for Tampa Bay Water. Investments in alternative water supply projects have a direct multiplier effect on the economy.

Significant water and ports infrastructure investment opportunities also exist.  According to Florida Department of Environmental Protection, there are $1 billion in ready-to-go water and wastewater projects.  In addition, Florida expects to receive approximately $220 million in federal stimulus dollars targeting this area, which will enable the state to bond $250 million bringing the total to just under half a billion. These capital investments are infrastructure intensive and create jobs for construction workers, engineers and many others throughout the state.  

“Much of central Florida has been affected by a historic three-year drought.  Providing funding for water infrastructure addresses a critical need for our state – future water supply – and puts the wheels in motion on projects that have been waiting in the wings,” said Chuck Carden, Director of Operations and Facilities for Tampa Bay Water. “Right now, we have five regional projects in need of additional funding sources in order to get started.  We encourage the Legislature to fund water infrastructure construction projects that will not only help diversify our state’s water supply sources, but also put fellow Floridians to work.” 

The current expansion of the Panama Canal provides a great opportunity for economic stimulus through Florida’s 14 deep-water ports.  In the ESP 2.0, business leaders encourage government officials to aid in building warehouses and distribution centers to position Florida as a competitor with the mega ports of Savannah and New Orleans.  Specifically, the package recommends the state law port security costs be brought into proper balance to allow Florida ports to compete financially.

“The Economic Stimulus Package 2.0 outlines active steps to take now that will build upon Florida’s strengths and energize its economy,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “These recommendations represent one-time state investments that will create recurring benefits – it’s the kind of gift that keeps on giving to all Floridians.”

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO, Dominic Calabro, presents the results of an economic impact analysis of the business community’s ESP 2.0. Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) thanks members of AIF and the business community for bring forth new ideas on how to stimulate Florida’s economy.