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CFO Alex Sink Asks BP to Help Get the Word Out – “Florida Is Open for Business”

5/8/2010

CONTACT:  Jayme O’Rourke, 561-603-8336 or
 Jerri Franz, 904-610-1440
 
CFO Addresses Floridians’ Concerns with BP Representative in Meeting Today

ST. PETERSBURG – Florida CFO Alex Sink met today with BP Executive Keith Seilhan at the Deepwater Horizon Incident Command Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., and asked for BP’s commitment to help the state and its small businesses recover from economic losses by funding an advertising campaign to let the world know that Florida and its beaches are oil-free, open for business, and as beautiful as ever.

“Getting the word out that Florida is open for business, and that our white sandy beaches are still pristine and beautiful is what we need most right now, and what the people of Florida have been telling me is job No. 1,” said CFO Sink. “Our businesses and our state cannot afford for our number one industry to be impacted by misinformation. We must act quickly to preserve the most economically important months of the tourist season, especially for our Gulf Coast counties.”

During her trips to the area this week, local businesses asked CFO Sink for her help getting this word out. Through www.VISITFLORIDA.com, vacationers are able to view live Twitter feeds and read up-to-the-minute information on the status of any city or region in Florida, allowing them to see first-hand whether or not an area is currently affected. VISIT FLORIDA is working closely with DEP and other state agencies to ensure that Floridians and visitors are kept informed of any potential impacts through real-time updates.

CFO Sink had called on BP to dedicate an executive level representative to Florida who would focus on the mounting costs to Florida businesses from business interruption caused by concerns from visitors about the oil spill. CFO Sink’s Consumer Services Division has heard from Panhandle businesses already experiencing business interruptions from the oil spill. During her meeting with Seilhan, she emphasized the need to expedite the claims process for Florida’s small businesses.

In her meeting with Seilhan, CFO Sink shared the frustration of the small businesses she’s heard from during her trips to Florida’s Panhandle this week with long wait times on the phone, confusion about documentation needed, how soon to expect contact from claims adjusters and how long the reimbursement process will take.
In a discussion about the potential need for cleanup and recovery efforts, and with Floridians still facing record high unemployment, CFO Sink asked that BP actively recruit Florida residents to do the work, and to buy needed supplies from Florida’s businesses. 
 
 “We discussed the pressing concerns of Florida’s citizens and our local community leaders, and I will continue to hold BP accountable for ensuring that our small businesses and our state are fairly compensated,” said CFO Sink.

CFO Sink traveled to Pensacola three times this week, receiving emergency briefings, speaking with local business owners, and participating in roundtable discussions with local, state and federal officials. She also traveled to Mobile, Alabama, for emergency briefings and aerial tours of the spill.

On Monday, CFO Sink outlined three protective state and federal actions to better protect Florida’s economy — expediting the federal Small Business Administration Disaster Loans and temporarily suspending loan repayments; state activation of Emergency Support Function 18 and expansion of the state Small Business Emergency Loan Program; and the creation of an Oil Spill Environmental Task force. To view a video of CFO Sink’s Monday media availability, click here.
 

 As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, CFO Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services.  A successful business leader with nearly three decades of experience in the private sector, Sink is serving her first term as Florida's CFO.  CFO Sink's priorities include using her business experience to cut wasteful spending, holding government accountable to Florida’s taxpayers, and cracking down on financial and insurance fraud.