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

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Today is National Entrepreneurs’ Day, which makes it an ideal time to reflect and thank those creative and hard-working entrepreneurs who commit themselves every day to supporting our families, friends and communities. Entrepreneurial success plays an instrumental role in creating a vibrant and diverse economy, and we must continue our support and recognition of the efforts made to build successful communities across our state and our nation.

Entrepreneurship DayEntrepreneurs have long exemplified the spirit of the American dream. Our forefathers’ greatest gift to us was the freedom to pursue the entrepreneurial spirit that has inspired countless men and women to reach higher and aim bigger. Their sparks of creativity and willingness to risk it all in the pursuit of success has helped improve the lives of all of us not only through the jobs they create, but also through the greater efficiencies and cost savings they allow.

Small businesses, in particular, are the cornerstone of our economy, which is why I believe it is so important to work closely with their owners and continue taking steps to maintain our status as a very business friendly state. This week, I released the results of a small business survey intended to help better understand the needs of our small businesses.

The results of our survey were very encouraging. We found that 87 percent of the small business owners surveyed intend to grow their Florida business in the next 12 months. This news is great for Florida because it means we have a created an environment where businesses can succeed and lead our future growth and prosperity.

I encourage all Floridians to celebrate entrepreneurs not only during today’s celebration, but all year long by supporting the businesses whose hard work and long hours have enhanced our state’s diverse communities. As the 2013 Small Business Survey reveals, the future is bright for our state’s small businesses thanks to the support of people like you.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Sun-Sentinel: State's small businesses plan to expand

Tampa Bay News 9: US stocks close to scoring 'Perfect 10' for 2013

Orlando Sentinel: Orlando, Volusia top Florida home-price growth for October

Orlando Sentinel: Latest report shows Florida crime rate down

Sun-Sentinel: Businessman chosen to lead State University System

Sun-Sentinel: Forecast says Florida economy improving

Miami Herald: Florida’s holiday shopping projected to rise 4.5 percent

Miami Herald: Social entrepreneurs aim to solve society’s big challenges

Growth Outlook Bright for Small Businesses

This week, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater released the Florida Department of Financial Services’ 2013 Small Business Survey, which reveals a positive outlook for Florida’s small businesses. The results revealed that 87 percent of the 1,093 small business employers surveyed plan to grow their business during the next 12 months. Among these owners planning to grow, 30 percent plan to hire new employees, 27 percent plan to make new expenditures and 19 percent plan to expand their product lines. 2013 Small Business Survey

The 2013 Small Business Survey found evidence of an economic recovery taking place in Florida because owners reported both an increase in sales and in their capital expenditures over the past 12 months – two leading indicators for scalable growth and future hiring. A lack of access to capital, however, remains a concern for small businesses.

Survey results showed that more small businesses appear to be interested in alternative financing as a means to fund their growth and expansion. Nineteen percent of respondents regularly use alternative forms of capital to finance their small business and 44 percent of respondents indicated they would like to use alternative sources of financing in the future.

Among the respondents who had no plans to expand their small business over the next year (13%), the most frequently cited reasons for not doing so were economic uncertainty, lack of sales, lack of available financing, requirements of the federal health care law (PPACA) and regulations at all levels of government.

A survey form was developed by the Florida Department of Financial Services for the 2013 Small Business Survey with the purpose of identifying economic trends and emerging issues affecting small businesses in Florida. The survey was sent electronically to a sample of small business owners in Florida between August 20, 2013, and September 6, 2013. Survey participants were limited to small business employers headquartered in Florida with less than 500 employees. The use of email solicitation was the primary method for acquiring responses, which were collected through a web-based survey platform. The survey was distributed in partnership with the Florida Small Business Development Center Network and the Florida Chamber Foundation.

To read the complete 2013 Small Business Survey, click here.

CFO Atwater and the Florida Cabinet Recognize Accomplishments of Detective Dwight Murphy

This week, CFO Jeff Atwater and the Florida Cabinet recognized the accomplishments Detective Dwight Murphy and his exceptional efforts to protect Floridians. Detective Murphy was recently named the Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee’s 2013 Law Enforcement Detective of the Year.Dwight Murphy-2013 Law Enforcement Detective of the Year

During his tenure with the Department of Financial Services, Detective Murphy has served as lead investigator during several of the department’s most successful missions, including a 2009 investigation into a high dollar Ponzi scheme that swindled investors out of their retirement accounts. Thanks to Detective Murphy’s hard work, the suspect was indicted in federal court on 14 counts of wire and mail fraud and received a 30-year prison sentence. Additionally, in 2010, a case led by Detective Murphy resulted in a 30-year prison sentence for a Jacksonville man who reused syringes and knowingly infecting patients with Hepatitis C.

For these and many other outstanding achievements, Detective Murphy has received several awards and honors during his career including the 2012 Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, 2013 International Association of Special Investigation Units’ Public Service Award, and in April of this year, Detective Murphy was presented the prestigious Officer of the Year award by U.S. Attorney Bob O’Neill.

Florida Announces $4 Million Multi-State, Multi-Agency Life Claim Settlement Agreement with Aviva

This week, a $4 million life claim settlement agreement was reached with two companies (Aviva Life & Annuity Company and Aviva Life & Annuity Company of New York) who are collectively referred to as “Aviva.”

The settlement agreement with Aviva and other similar insurers focuses primarily on the asymmetrical use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF) to cease making annuity payments, but not to search for beneficiaries of a life insurance policy who may be due benefits. Aviva has agreed to implement business reforms correcting this practice and to make a multi-million dollar payment, which will be disbursed among the participating states. Florida’s allocation of the $4 million payment is expected to be over $342,000.

The multi-state examination was conducted by Florida, California, Illinois (managing lead state), Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Along with these states, the agreement includes the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS), the Office of the Attorney General (AG), and the Office of Insurance Regulation (Office).

“This settlement is another great win for Floridians who have been subjected to deceitful business practices and deserve to be compensated,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “Aviva and other businesses who have failed to pay the rightful benefits to Floridians must be held accountable.”

Established in 2011, the multistate examination process is guided and coordinated by the NAIC Life/Annuities Claim Settlement Practices Task Force, which is chaired by Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. For more information about this issue, visit the Office of Insurance Regulation’s Life Claims Settlement Practices website. To search or submit a request for unclaimed property, visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org, or call 1-88-VALUABLE or (850) 413-3089.

Florida Economic Briefs


Florida’s Unemployment Rate drops to 6.7% in October

Florida’s unemployment rate continued to drop last month, down to 6.7% in October with 182,200 jobs created over the year. The U.S. unemployment rate remained stagnant at 7.3% in October.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida housing market improves in October
Florida’s housing market remained positive in October with both sales and prices growing over the year. In October, the Florida's Bottom Line Aerospace and Aviationmedian sales price of a single-family home in Florida was $169,000, 17% higher compared to the same time last year when the median sales prices was $145,000 in October 2012.

Source: Florida Realtors

Inside the latest issue of Florida's Bottom Line, you’ll find expert commentary on Florida’s efforts to create and lead the next generation of innovation in the aerospace and aviation industry. It will be the continued commitment and creativity of Floridians who will make our state a global leader for innovation and economic prosperity in the 21st century. Florida's Bottom Line should help equip you with the resources to be a part of this mission.