A Day at the Capitol
Space Coast Chambers Advocate for Brevard’s Business Community
Representatives and business partners of all four Brevard County Chambers of Commerce traveled to Tallahassee recently with a joint legislative agenda to lobby state legislators at the Capitol. Among the various issues raised were the Indian River Lagoon and water quality; workforce readiness and education; workforce housing; tourism; transportation infrastructure improvements; and space commerce, exploration and tourism.
Over 20 appointments were scheduled in the one-day effort to shed light on the issues most important to Brevard and its business community. The effort proved that bringing community leaders together for common goals is powerful.
The Chambers also assisted State Representative Tyler Sirois (R-51) in creating the county’s first ever “Brevard County Day at the Capitol” on the Capitol grounds. Representatives from over 15 different Brevard entities joined the Chambers at the Capitol to showcase to staffers, senators, representatives and numerous visitors all that Brevard has to offer.
Displays of the Kennedy Space Center, Brevard Zoo, and Ron Jon’s Surf shop, plus representatives from local colleges and space exploration left positive impressions.
“This is an effort we plan to continue on an annual basis and we look forward to continuing to assist in any capacity we can to showcase the incredible assets we have here on the Space Coast,” said Jennifer Sugarman, President and CEO, Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The day began with breakfast in the Senate Chamber of the Historic Capitol where attendees were greeted by Rep. Tyler Sirois (R-51) and Sen. Tom Wright (R-14), the two state legislators who initiated Brevard Day at the Capital. The pair provided a brief update on their focus for the legislative session and were followed by remarks from Sen. Debbie Mayfield (R-17) along with Representatives Randy Fine (R-53), Thad Altman (R-52) and Rene Plasencia “Coach P” (R-50). The entire Brevard delegation seemed focused on passing meaningful legislation beneficial to the Space during the latest rapid 60-day session in Tallahassee.
Breakfast was followed by group appointments with multiple leaders including Fine, Altman and Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson. Sen. Wright (R-14) gave a tour of the Senate chambers.
During each meeting, the participants discussed the needs of Brevard’s business community and presented legislators and Cabinet leaders with the 2020 Brevard County Joint Chambers Legislative Agenda.
“The strength of having 75+ community leaders converge on Tallahassee with a joint legislative agenda is priceless,” said Nancy Peltonen, President and CEO of the Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce. “Our consolidated message is well received and the critical needs of Brevard County become the focus. It is an excellent experience for both the legislators and the attendees.”
The Chambers thanked Fine for his ongoing leadership on issues important to all Brevard citizens, specifically for championing water quality and care for the Indian River Lagoon. They also noted his continued support for Junior Achievement and for the planned Brevard Zoo Aquarium.
The morning meetings were followed by a luncheon featuring an update from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Among his many relevant points, the governor emphasized the strength of Brevard’s business community, commitment to space exploration and exciting new endeavors as we launch Americans once again from U.S. soil. He also reinforced his commitment to ensuring the water quality of our lagoon as part of his support for environmental issues and the sustainability of Florida’s natural resources.
The afternoon was packed with further legislative member meetings, including a discussion with Senate President Bill Galvano. Then, attendees were apprised by many of Florida’s Executive Branch leaders. Those included an in-depth briefing by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary John Truitt, where he discussed current water quality legislation in play and even delved into the area of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting issues.
That was followed by briefings from Space Florida’s President and CEO Frank DiBello and Visit Florida’s President and CEO Dana Young.
“Our annual Tallahassee fly-In is such a great opportunity for our members to connect with, not only Brevard County’s legislative delegation, but with both the legislative and executive leadership of our state,” said Michael Ayers, President and CEO, Melbourne Regional Chamber. “It is important for legislators to hear about the priorities of the business community and we thank the Orlando Melbourne International Airport for making this trip financially feasible for our members.
“Collaboration is our greatest opportunity for success as a region, and it is exciting to see all of the pieces coming together, agencies engaging with one another and sharing the overall vision for our future. It was impressive to see the reputation of our area and our delegation in the State Capitol, and a reminder of how important it is for us to remain engaged on not only a regional level, but a state and federal level, as well, to make sure we can continue to see the growth and prosperity in our own neighborhoods.”
Contributions by all four Chamber of Commerce presidents:
Michael Ayers, President & CEO, Melbourne Regional Chamber
Marcia Gaedcke, President, Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce
Nancy Peltonen, President & CEO, Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce
Jennifer Sugarman, President & CEO, Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce
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