My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Last week, we held our annual unclaimed property auction in Tampa, and what a success it was!

We auctioned nearly 500 lots, which contained more than 70,000 individual items. These items had a combined reserve value of three quarters of a million News Channel 8 in Tampa phone bank with CFOdollars, but sold for $1.57 million. Those funds will go into the unclaimed property program where a rightful owner can come forward at any time to collect.

This year’s auction was the second-highest yielding auction ever, second only to $1.7 million raised three years ago in Fort Lauderdale. The highest grossing individual item was a platinum, 5.5 carat, emerald-cut diamond ring that sold for $18,000.

CFO Atwater at the phone bankAs part of the auction activities, our team hosted a live telephone bank in partnership with Shannon Behnken and WFLA, a Tampa television station. For two-and-a-half hours, our unclaimed property team answered phone calls from Tampa Bay residents who were looking for unclaimed property accounts we may be holding in their names.

The phone lines lit up and the action was non-stop. In just 24 hours, more than 5,500 Tampa Bay area residents found unclaimed property accounts worth a staggering $1.34 million. After 48 hours, the numbers spiked even higher, with 7,700 residents finding accounts totaling more than $1.85 million.

It is my goal to return every last dollar of unclaimed property back to its rightful owner. I enjoy events like telephone banks and check deliveries because they are a great reminder of just how excited people are to receive funds they didn’t even know they were missing. Even if the account is just a hundred dollars from an old cable company deposit, that’s enough to purchase your child’s back-to-school supplies. Sometimes the account is a work-related savings account you forgot to cash out when you changed jobs, and sometimes, the account is from a loved one’s life insurance policy that you didn’t know existed. Those accounts are wonderful memories for families and reminders of just how important this work is for the people of Florida.

If you live in the Tampa Bay area and we found an account for you, congratulations and thanks for calling in or checking our website online. If you haven't checked, and you’re curious if we have something waiting for you in our vault, hop online to www.FLTreasureHunt.org. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Next year’s auction will be in South Florida, and we hope to see you there. In the meantime, we load new accounts into our unclaimed property system every day, so if you don’t find anything tomorrow or next week, keep checking! Nearly one-in-five Floridians has an account in their name, so the odds are in your favor!

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart Workshops

Operation S.A.F.E.Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • The Psychology of a Scam
  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft
  • Resources to Keep You Safe

Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshops:

  • Tuesday, August 23 - Belle Glade
    10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
    West Senior Center
    2916 State Road #15, Belle Glade, FL 33430
    Register | Directions
  • Wednesday, August 24 - Lake Worth
    10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
    Mid-County Senior Center
    3680 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, FL 33461
    Register | Directions
  • Thursday, August 25 - Palm Beach Gardens
    9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
    North County Senior Center
    5217 Northlake Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
    Register | Directions

Florida's Bottom Line: Florida's Seaports

Doug Wheeler guest authored a column in our latest edition that focuses on Florida seaports. Here is an excerpt:

Florida’s 15 public seaports are very diverse and vary in size, scope, structure, governance, and cargo. So diverse in fact, there really isn’t a cargo our ports can't handle. Our state is unique in its role as a major player in the global marketplace due to its geography and infrastructure. This marketplace continues to evolve, with growth occurring in South American and Caribbean markets, the expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate larger vessels, and continuously shifting trade routes.

In response to these developments, Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature have made seaport investment a priority by allocating $1 billion of strategic infrastructure funding over the last six years. In addition, $3.5 billion has been identified for future investments to ensure Florida maintains its position as a global gateway to the world.

Read more from Doug Wheeler in Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's economic and financial health.

Florida Economic Briefs

Record number of tourists visited Florida in second quarter 2016
A record 27.3 million tourists visited Florida in the second quarter of 2016, an increase of 3.1 percent over the second quarter of last year. According to Visit Florida, an estimated 2.6 million tourists were from overseas and 1.1 million were from Canada. Tourism-related jobs also increased to 1.24 million, up 4.1 percent over the year.
Source: Visit Florida

Small business optimism plateaus in July
Small business optimism increased slightly last month according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. Of the ten components that make up the index, four of them increased over the month, four decreased, and two remained unchanged.
Source: National Federation of Independent Business