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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

As Floridians, we are fortunate to live in a state with beautiful beaches, fresh seafood and hospitality that is second to none. Year after year, visitors flock to our state providing the fuel for one of our state’s most important economic engines: tourism. As I meet with businesses across the state, I see firsthand how important our tourism industry is to many of Florida’s small businesses.

Last year, Florida attracted approximately 86 million visitors, breaking the previous record set in 2007. In fact, Florida tourism has steadily increased each year by a total of five percent since 2009. Notwithstanding the adversity that small businesses have faced over the past few years, I am confident that these gains are a strong indication that Florida’s tourism economy is on the road to recovery.

Although it is important that we continue to create conditions that will attract new industries to Florida, tourism will always be a core component of our economy.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Artist Kelvin Hair Exhibits at the Capitol

CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater met this week with artist Kelvin Hair of Ft. Pierce, a 23-year veteran of the St. Lucie County Fire Department who retired as a lieutenant in 2000 to paint full time and has gained widespread recognition for his talent.

CFO and Kelvin Hair at the exhibit

Hair grew up surrounded by art. A self-described passionate artist fueled by bold imagination, Hair was introduced to art as a toddler by his father, famed Highwayman Alfred Hair, and has been creating original works of art since middle school. These days, Hair is a widely collected Florida artist with a loyal fan base.

Hair’s work is on display in the 22nd Floor Capitol Gallery in Tallahassee through March 29 as a part of the Division of Cultural Affairs’ Capitol Complex Exhibitions program. Exhibit hours are Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is free.

News of Interest

Sunshine State News: Jeff Atwater: Man charged with workers’ comp fraud

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida attracts record number of tourists in 2011

Sun-Sentinel: Business hiring in South Florida on the rise

Fort Myers News-Press: Asian companies on a roll in Southwest Florida

Florida Times-Union: Jax business women's group wants 'makeover' for small business

Orlando Sentinel: Retailers hope to score big with NBA All-Star shoppers

Washington Post: BP could reach settlement for Gulf oil spill this week

Florida Holocaust Museum Marks 20th

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg. The longevity of the museum is a testament to the importance that Floridians place on honoring the victims of the Holocaust. Each year, the museum helps educate thousands of visitors who are encouraged to remember of millions of innocent men, women and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. The museum’s mission is to illustrate to each visitor the inherent worth and dignity of every human life in order to prevent future genocide. Florida Holocaust Museum

More than 65 years later, the repercussions of the horrible tragedy are still felt by Holocaust survivors around the world, including the estimated 12,500 living in our state. One such repercussion has been the international wire transfer fees—that amount to about a 10 percent tax—in order to receive their Holocaust reparation payments from the German government.

The CFO’s office has partnered with hundreds of Florida’s financial institutions and their local branches to waive the wire transfer fees on Holocaust survivors’ reparation payments. Waiving these fees is a powerful reflection of the willingness of Florida’s financial community to contribute to the well-being of this important group of Floridians.

To learn more about this program, visit www.myfloridacfo.com/feewaiver.

Florida's Economic Inside Track

Read the quarterly newsletter for the inside track on Florida's financial health. To provide up-to-date information on Florida’s economy, we have a companion website featuring the latest data and easy access to our published editions.