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My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded of our many blessings - family and friends, health and happiness, the gift of living in a free country and the countless other blessings we enjoy as Floridians.

I am thankful every day for more than 1.5 million veterans who fought to secure and preserve the freedoms we enjoy. These service members and our active military members, alongside our state’s many fire and law enforcement personnel selflessly put their lives on the line in the name of our safety so we can spend time with our loved ones.

I am also thankful for the mothers and fathers in Florida who are raising the future leaders of our state, and for the teachers who are providing us the crucial education we need to be successful. Let us all remain thankful for Florida’s innovative business leaders who are fueling our economy.

Our record low unemployment numbers, our ranking as 5th best business climate in the nation and a housing market that’s on the rise are further reasons to appreciate our great state. Florida’s economic engines are turning and innovative entrepreneurs are creating jobs that will drive our state forward.

These blessings and our state’s unmatched natural beauty and quality of life make me very thankful this Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy your holiday and take time to appreciate the many ways our state has been blessed.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Tampa Bay Times: Surprise jump in Florida consumer confidence

Florida Trend: Florida retail sales outpace the nation

South Florida Sun Sentinel: Florida leads nation in new construction jobs

WESH: Record number of tourists keep flocking to Florida

Tampa Bay Times: Forecast: Florida holiday shopping will jump 5 percent

Tampa Bay Times: Quiet 2014 hurricane season coming to an end

South Florida Sun Sentinel: Per capita income rising slowly, feds say

Miami Resident Arrested for Identity Theft and Public Assistance Fraud

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater recently announced the arrest of Caribe Evans, 36, for using stolen identities to steal more than $30,000 in taxpayer-funded food assistance benefits. The charges follow a two-year investigation into Evans’ U.S. Department of Agriculture vendor-approved shell company, Green Thumb Farmers Market. Evans was found to be using the business to steal public assistance benefits with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards that he had fraudulently obtained with stolen identities.

"I’m proud of our team of investigators for holdingPublic Assistance Fraud crooks accountable when they steal from Florida taxpayers and particularly when it involves stealing money intended for families who need public assistance to make ends meet," said CFO Atwater. "Fraud will not be tolerated on my watch."

The investigation, led by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Public Assistance Fraud, found that Evans created Green Thumb Farmers Market to gain access to the business-issued Point of Sale card reader to traffic fraudulently obtained EBT cards. Investigators believe Evans’ stole at least 46 identities with victims as far away as California.

Evans’ scheme was uncovered when an employee in the Department of Children and Families’ Office of Public Benefits Integrity noticed dozens of EBT cases led back to the same address. Evans was booked into the Broward County jail and faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Florida Economic Briefs

Unemployment drops in Florida
The unemployment rate was 6.0 percent in October, down 0.1 percentage point from September (6.1%) and down 0.7 percentage points from October of last year (6.7%).
Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Florida’s annual job growth rate continues to exceed the nation
Florida added 34,400 jobs in October, an increase of 2.7 percent from October of last year and marked the 51st consecutive month with positive annual job growth. Nationally, job growth increased by 1.9 percent over the year.
Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Florida's Bottom Line - Veteran-owned BusinessesFlorida's Bottom Line on the Success of Veteran-owned Businesses

This edition of Florida’s Bottom Line highlights the active role Florida’s veterans play in contributing to our flourishing economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, veterans are 45 percent more likely than civilian counterparts to become successful entrepreneurs.

Today, Florida ranks third nationally for the greatest number of veteran-owned businesses, which provide more than $61 billion in revenue annually and employ more than 310,000 Floridians. Additionally, you’ll find helpful resources for veterans interested in starting their own business or who are in search of a job.

Fostering Financial Prosperity

This special issue of Florida’s Bottom Line offers an overview of the Department of Financial Services’ transparent, fiscally-sound and consumer-oriented accomplishments since 2011.

Fostering Financial Prosperity