My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

May is Military Appreciation Month, and while the brave men and women who serve our country deserve praise each and every day, this month offers a unique opportunity to recognize the commitment and sacrifices made by our current and former military service members.

American FlagFlorida is home to more than 61,000 active service members and 12,000 National Guard members who report to one of the state's 20 major military installations. In addition to these men and women, more than 1.5 million veterans have chosen to call our state home, which accounts for the third largest veteran population in the country. Because Florida keeps taxes low and has created the conditions for economic success, veterans are choosing to build businesses across Florida−businesses that contribute greatly to our growing economy.

In fact, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, veterans are 45 percent more likely than their civilian counterparts to become successful entrepreneurs. Currently, Florida ranks third in the nation for the highest number of veteran-owned businesses, which generate $62 billion in revenue annually and employ more than 310,000 Floridians. One in every 11 businesses in Florida is owned by a veteran, which means more than likely you’ve shopped at a veteran-owned business in your community. These numbers show that from the frontlines to storefronts, Florida’s veterans are continuing to serve.

Florida’s veteran population is both robust and dynamic, consisting of 160,000 women veterans, 1.2 million wartime veterans and more than 231,000 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Throughout the month of May, our Department will highlight a few of these men and women from across Florida for their leadership in service and in business. I encourage you to visit the Department of Financial Services' Facebook and Twitter pages to read their inspiring stories.

I am eternally grateful to all active duty service members and veterans for their commitment to our country, and I will remain steadfast in my commitment to upholding Florida’s reputation as one of the most military-friendly states in the nation. I hope you will take time this month to say thank you to the men and women in your lives who have served or continue to serve valiantly to enable all of Florida and the United States to thrive in freedom and liberty.


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Jacksonville Business Journal: Visit Florida: 98.9M visitors came to Florida last year

Orlando Business Journal: Florida's leading indicator goes up in March

Orlando Business Journal: Florida among top states where people want to work from home

Orlando Sentinel: Job satisfaction jumped in 2014, report says

News 4 Jax: Florida Ranks Second in Job Growth

Palm Beach Post: More than a quarter million Floridians likely to return to housing market by 2023

Tampa Tribune: The importance of financial smarts

State Fire Marshal Celebrates Arson Awareness Week

State Fire Marshal BadgeIn honor of Arson Awareness Week, celebrated May 3- 9, 2015, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater recognizes the Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations for its work to reduce and solve arson-related crimes in Florida. The bureau’s work is bolstered by its team of arson detection K-9s that work alongside handlers to sniff out signs of arson on fire scenes. This year, Arson Awareness Week focuses on these highly-trained dogs and their unique abilities to detect accelerants commonly used to start fires.

"Our dedicated K-9 units have been instrumental in the arrest and prosecution of arsonists by fearlessly entering fire scenes to detect signs of arson," said CFO Atwater. "When natural ability meets highly specialized training, these dogs become a powerful weapon in the fight against this destructive financial crime."

The bureau’s K-9 units include:

  • K-9 Bailey and handler Travis Kincaid in Pensacola,
  • K-9 Booker and handler Jeff Batz in Lake Wales,
  • K-9 Fresca and handler David Young in Jacksonville,
  • K-9 Penzy and handler Amelia Bowling-Hitchcock in Daytona,
  • K-9 Brandon and handler Jayson Deese in Panama City,
  • K-9 Ember and handler Ross Holt in Plantation, and
  • Explosives detection K-9 Bella and handler Monty Taylor.

During fiscal year 14/15, which ends June 30, the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations has investigated 1088 incendiary, or arson-related, fires that represent a dollar loss totaling more than $14 million. These cases represent nearly 500 K-9 unit call-outs and 277 arrests for arson-related crimes. Arson detection K-9s have noses 100,000 more acute than a human’s and the ability to work an entire fire scene in less than hour, which allows investigators to perform better, faster and more efficiently than while working alone.

To report an arson-related crime in Florida, visit or call the Arson Tip Hotline 1-877-NO-ARSON.

Florida's Bottom Line: Federal Finances

Florida’s Bottom Line is CFO Atwater’s quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's economic and financial health. Inside FBL, discover Florida's emerging economic and business trends, learn from Florida's top business and community leaders in exclusive guest articles, gain access to essential small business and consumer resources and visualize key data with unique infographics. The following article discusses the state of federal finances:

FederaldDeficits will double in size by 2025According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal government continues to spend more money than it takes in. The federal deficit, or the amount by which the federal government's spending exceeds its revenues, for the 2015 fiscal year is expected to be $486 billion, amounting to approximately 2.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). To put this into perspective, the projected federal deficit in 2015 alone is approximately six times the size of Florida’s total current budget. The CBO also expects that this trend in higher spending will continue into the future with annual federal deficits surpassing the $1 trillion mark by 2025. Over time, the cumulative federal deficits are projected to total $7.2 trillion from 2016-2025.

Read more on page 6 of the spring edition.

Florida Economic Briefs

New home construction rising in Florida
New home construction activity continued to strengthen statewide in March with new building permits up 40 percent over the year. The increase is led by a surge in new multi-unit home construction activity, which has more than doubled over the past year. Single-family home construction continued to post steady gains in March.
Source: U.S. Census

U.S. economic growth stalls in Q1
Real gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at a 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter of 2015. Real GDP increased 5.0 percent and 2.2 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2014, respectively. The lackluster report is attributed to harsh winter weather and the effects of a stronger dollar.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

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 following workshops:

  • Thursday, May 7th - Boca Raton
    10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
    The Volen Center
    1515 W Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, Florida 33486
    Register | Directions | Flyer

  • Wednesday, May 20th - Tallahassee
    10:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
    Smith-Williams Service Center
    2295 Pasco Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32310
    Register | Directions | Flyer