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My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

CFO Atwater addressing the ribbon cutting memorial.Did you know that Florida’s firefighters respond to a call every 21 seconds? These selfless heroes put themselves in harm’s way in order to keep us safe. They are the men and women who endure burns, smoke inhalation, and unbelievable stress to their bodies as they battle flames. The time has come to offer a permanent place in Tallahassee where we can honor those who have fallen while in the line of duty.

That is why, as your State Fire Marshal, I spearheaded the creation of a Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Florida’s Capitol courtyard as a place ofRibbon cutting remembrance to those firefighters who paid the ultimate price while protecting others. I share a special affinity for the work done by Florida's firefighters as both my father and son chose to serve their communities in the fire service.

Yesterday, Florida’s leaders, fire service professionals, and the families of fallen firefighters gathered in the Florida Capitol Courtyard to pay honor and tribute to the fire service personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to witness the unveiling of the Fallen Firefighter Memorial. The 181 firefighters who have been lost in the last 130 years have their names etched into granite slabs, which rest near fire-engine-red flames. The memorial was designed by firefighters who donated their time and skill in the spirit of brotherhood.

On behalf of all Floridians, I want to say thank you to the more than 55,000 active firefighters in our state. We will never forget your brothers and sisters who have fallen and we thank you for your daily commitment in protecting us all. I invite all Floridians to watch a replay of this moving service for the Fallen Firefighter Memorial. Photos for the event can be seen here.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Tallahassee Democrat: Firefighter memorial honors those who sacrificed

Sun-Sentinel: Open government important to Florida's financial health

Daytona Beach News Journal: Honoring fallen firefighters

FL PIP Guide: CFO Jeff Atwater Supports Fighting Fraud During 2015 Legislative Session

Sunshine State News: Jeff Atwater Showcases Florida's New Financial Software

Tampa Bay Times: Florida unemployment rate unchanged at 5.7 percent

Business Wire: Fitch Affirms Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Rev Bonds at 'AA'

WZVN-7 Fort Myers: Montel Williams out as payday loan pitchman in New York

March is Women's History Month

Each week this month, we are featuring prominent American women leaders and highlighting their contributions to our country.

Eartha WhiteEartha M. M. White 1876-1974

In everything she did, Eartha White, a Jacksonville native, thought of her fellow Floridians through her lifelong commitment to helping others. Her motto was, "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, for all the people you can, while you can," and she did just that through her charities and her business ventures. Throughout her long life, White was a professional opera singer, a teacher, a businesswoman with several businesses, which included a dry goods store, employment and housecleaning bureaus, a taxi company, and a steam laundry. Her versatility and determination enabled her to become a licensed real estate broker, the first woman employee of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company in Jacksonville, and a charter member of both the National Negro Business League and Jacksonville Business League.

As a philanthropist and humanitarian, White was called the “Angel of Mercy,” using her success and wealth to lift others up in their times of need. White’s charities helped other African-Americans in Jacksonville, most notably through the establishment of what is known today as the Eartha White Nursing Home, and also an orphanage for African-American children, a home for unwed mothers, a nursery for children of working mothers, a tuberculosis rest home, the Boys' Improvement Club, and the Clara White Mission for the Indigent.

CFO Atwater Introduces Florida PALM

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has announced the new Florida PALM project for the Department of Financial Services’ efforts to replace the antiquated and obsolete systems known as FLAIR and CMS. FLAIR, which made its debut more than 30 years ago, processes nearly $90 billion in payments each year for the State of Florida.

Florida PalmThese efforts, formerly known as the FLAIR and CMS Replacement (FCR) project, have progressed and have recently been rebranded as the Florida PALM project. PALM is an acronym for Planning, Accounting and Ledger Management, which speaks to the broader functionality of the state’s new system.

CFO Atwater provided this update to agency leaders and key stakeholders including Florida TaxWatch, the Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber, the Council of 100 and the Florida Institute of CPAs. These organizations have vocally supported and advocated for resources to advance this critical endeavor.

Florida Economic Briefs

Retail activity continues to climb in Florida
Retail activity has increased 9.5 percent over the year. Retail activity is derived from taxable sales, and is used as an indicator of regional economic activity. Autos and accessories saw the highest over the year growth (12.5 percent), followed by building investment (12.1 percent), and business investment (10.1 percent).
Source: Office of Economic and Demographic Research

Small Business loan approval rates increase in February
Small business loan approval rates attained a post-recession high in February, according to a report by Biz2Credit. Big banks approved 21.5 percent of small business loan requests in February, up 0.2 percentage points from January (21.3 percent).
Source: Biz2credit.com

Stop Adult Financial Exploitation

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 workshops in West Palm Beach and Miami Gardens.

  • Tuesday, April 7th - North Palm Beach
    10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
    Anchorage Park Activities Building
    603 Anchorage Drive, North Palm Beach, Florida 33408
    Register | Directions | Flyer


  • Wednesday, April 8th - Altamonte Springs
    10:00 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.
    One Senior Place
    715 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714
    Register | Directions | Flyer

Outlook on 2015Outlook on 2015

This issue of Florida’s Bottom Line highlights opportunities for 2015, as well as issues from 2014. It includes economic forecasts and expert analysis on Florida from leading economists, including one from Chris McCarty, Ph.D., director of the Survey and Research Center and the director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.

Florida’s economy is recovering. By virtually any economic measure, we are far better off in January 2015 than we were when the recession ended in 2009.

Florida Annual Population ChangeAnnual population growth is getting closer to pre-recession levels as retirees once again move to the Sunshine State. This trend should continue into 2015 as Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) demographers project population growth of more than 260,000 next year, not yet the average 300,000 growth we have seen over the last four decades, but getting there. Read more.