My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Last week, I announced a new Department of Financial Services initiative called "Operation Dispatch." Operation Dispatch is a service transition program designed to streamline the process for military SFM Atwater and Operation Dispatchfirefighters to become certified in Florida by granting credit for military fire-serving training. I was joined for this special occasion by legislative leaders, men and women who guide Florida’s military and veteran programs, as well as representatives from the firefighting community–all of whom have supported this project from the beginning.

This unique program cuts out redundant training so military-trained firefighters take 40 hours of training specific to Florida standards. It reduces the costs associated with the Florida-specific training and testing requirements and allows participants to take the certification exam sooner, without having to wait for one of the regularly scheduled quarterly exams. One of the most exciting benefits of this program, made possible through partnerships with the Florida departments of Military and Veterans' Affairs, is that participants can use their Educational Dollars for Duty (EDD) and GI benefits to pay for this training. This program aims to help military firefighters continue their commitment to service in Florida by eliminating unnecessary hurdles, saving participants valuable time and money.

SFM Atwater and guests watch Operation Dispatch demonstration SFM Atwater and Operation Dispatch demonstration

In addition to serving as your CFO, I also serve as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, and it is my honor to help military service members and veterans continue important and long-lasting careers in Florida's fire service industry.

These outstanding men and women have bravely served our country and are already equipped with the skill sets required to be successful firefighters–they understand the value of a team and know the bonds of brotherhood. They’re accustomed to operating as part of the chain of command, and most importantly, they’re already trained firefighters. This program enables them to continue the service they’ve trained for and dedicated their lives to, just in a different uniform.

Florida has built a reputation as being one of the most military-friendly states in the nation, and it is my hope that this program further propels our state to being the best for veterans and active duty service members to live, work, and play–during their time of service and after.


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Florida Times-Union: State looks to give military firefighters a boost to civilian jobs

WJXT News4Jax: State eases process for military firefighters to be certified

Florida Today: Record tourism numbers for the Sunshine State

Florida Times-Union: Hurricane hiatus fills disaster fund

Miami Herald: How the Florida Microfinance Act helps small business

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Housing market: Buying a home still beats renting

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Gas will stay cheaper than it's been in years

U.S. News & World Report: Creating a Vision for Retirement

State Fire Marshal Atwater Introduces 'Operation Dispatch' in Jacksonville

CFO Atwater was joined in introducing Operation Dispatch by Florida State College at Jacksonville President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau, Commander of the Florida Air National Guard Brigadier General James O. Eifert and Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Deputy Executive Director Colonel Al Carter. Members of the military and firefighter communities were also present, including firefighter Dan Haley with St. John’s County Fire Rescue and Jonas Macskassy, a veteran who recently completed his firefighter training and received his certification from CFO Atwater.

SFM Atwater announcing "Operation Dispatch"""Military service members and veterans share the discipline, education and experience that’s integral to becoming part of Florida’s firefighting community," said CFO Atwater. "As State Fire Marshal, it is imperative to reduce unnecessary hurdles for those who have honorably served our country as firefighters to transition into careers as Florida-certified firefighters. I am honored to announce this program with the support of military and firefighter communities statewide."

"FSCJ has always been an avid supporter of the dedicated men and women who serve in our military forces using a combination of their education and training to protect our communities at home and abroad," said FSCJ President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau. "We are proud to partner with CFO Atwater to be a part of a program that operates on the same principle, allowing individuals to apply comparative experience-based training to fulfill certification requirements to continue protecting the safety and well-being of those in our communities."

"It is exciting to see the program, Operation Dispatch, begin in Florida and once again benefit service members.... to have the state recognize the training our military firefighters have been through is inspiring," said Brigadier General James O. Eifert. "For this effort, I would like to thank Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater."

"We are excited to work with the CFO’s office and firefighting community on this initiative and provide another seamless pathway for our patriots to continue a higher calling as they join the 60,000 elite firefighters in the state of Florida," said Al Carter, Deputy Executive Director for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. "This opportunity lays the groundwork for future opportunities in firefighting and rescue operations that inspire our returning veterans to join a higher calling and encourage them to make Florida their home."

"I am excited about the opportunity to work alongside former military men and women as they transition into the ranks of the civilian fire service," said firefighter Dan Haley with St. John’s County Fire Rescue. "These men and women have selflessly protected and served our great nation through military service. As a civilian firefighter, I have no doubt they will serve the local community with the same honor and courage that has been ingrained in them."

Designed to attract military service members and veterans to Florida, Operation Dispatch cuts out redundant training so military-trained firefighters take 40 hours of training specific to Florida standards. This program allows these dedicated men and women to continue meaningful and long-lasting careers in the Florida fire service industry.

"I am proud to be part of a program like Operation Dispatch that recognizes my military service training and allows me to continue doing the job that I love," said program graduate Jonas Macskassy. "I hope that my story inspires others to utilize this unique opportunity to continue their firefighting careers."

"Florida seeks to be the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation and we know that veterans contribute significantly to our workforce," said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio. "DEO is proud to work with CFO Atwater to promote the hiring of veterans through Operation Dispatch."

Through partnerships forged with the Florida Departments of Veterans’ and Military Affairs, Operation Dispatch reduces the costs associated with the Florida-specific training and testing to military firefighters. The program also allows participants to take the certification exam in a more timely fashion than the regularly-scheduled quarterly administrations, which upon successful completion helps newly-certified firefighters enter Florida’s workforce faster.

Science & Technology: The Internet of Things

Science & Technology: The Internet of ThingsFlorida’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 Internet of Things:

Imagine a world where your customers’ lawns decide to water themselves without intervention or their coffee pots start brewing because their alarm clocks told them to start. Many products used today will soon have sensors and the ability to communicate data to provide convenience, save money, or improve health. This technological transformation is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT can be defined as the computerization and connection of devices that have previously not been connected to the internet and each other.

Read more on page 7 about the Internet of Things.

Florida Economic Briefs

Record number of tourists visited Florida in the first quarter
According to Visit Florida, 28.4 million visitors came to Florida in the first quarter of 2015, an increase of 6.2 percent from the first quarter of last year. Travel-related jobs also increased to 1.19 million, up 4.8 percent from last year.
Source: Visit Florida

Small business optimism rises in April
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Survey rose 1.7 points in April to 96.9. The Small Business Optimism Index is composed of 10 categories, each of which increased or stayed the same in April except expected real sales, which decreased by 3 points.
Source: National Federation of Independent Business