Florida Governor Charlie Crist on Stimulating the Economy and the Arts

How can Florida businesses find out how to tap into stimulus money coming to the state? Gov. Charlie Crist answers.

Stimulating the Economy and the Arts


Q: How can Florida businesses find out how to tap into stimulus money coming to the state? At my company, Human Resource Solutions, we are mostly interested in tapping into money for retraining and skills development and have been in touch with our local workforce development board about this. We know they have received funds for training, but it would be great if there were a one-stop shop that listed all the money, where it’s going and how to access it. I’m sure that there are other types of businesses (construction, etc.) that would appreciate this info as well. Maybe this information exists somewhere, but we haven’t found it yet? — Tracey Tapp, Principal, Human Resource Solutions, Destin

Gov. Crist: "(The state) has been able to develop a very good Web site for this process, sort of a clearinghouse, if you will. It is flarecovery.com. It is an easy-to-navigate site. You get good information from it. We’re getting thousands of questions about the recovery money, how to tap into it.

The stimulus money has been very effective, certainly as it relates to our state budget, our opportunity to continue to provide quality education for Florida’s children. But for that infusion, we would have had to let go 26,000 teachers. In terms of being able to continue to provide public safety, good education, improved infrastructure for Florida, I think it will be shown to be very productive.

A point I think it’s important to make is that a few governors were not receptive. I felt that a lot of our fellow Floridians’ dollars went up there to Washington and, as (former U.S. Sen.) Connie Mack taught me, we deserve to have our fair share."

(Editor’s note: Florida’s share of the $787 billion federal Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act is $15.3 billion. That includes $11 billion coming through the state budget plus $3.1 billion in benefits to Floridians and $1.2 billion in funds going directly to local government. Florida is one of only 16 states selected to provide detailed reports to the General Accounting Office every 60 days to show Congress how the money is being used.)


Q: A new study on the economic impact of arts and culture in Florida has just been completed and will be released in the fall. It is anticipated that the impact of the arts on Florida’s economy will well exceed the $2.9 billion impact reported by the last study in 2001. However, that impact will be greatly lessened in the near future with the loss of a public investment in those efforts. How can this state protect its need for tourism products that enhance and increase the statewide economic impact without investing in the arts as a critical spoke in that wheel? Have you considered proposing a designated source of funding with growth potential to apply to the state’s arts and cultural pursuits to prevent the unintended consequence of a negative impact on the economy? — Peggy Brady, Executive Director, Council on Arts and Culture, Tallahassee


Gov. Crist: "I agree that the arts help Florida’s economy. When I was in the state Senate, one of the license plates I chose to sponsor was for the arts. And the reason I did it, being opposed to tax increases to support projects, this is a voluntary way for individuals who care about the arts throughout the state of Florida to invest in it and thereby (the state is) able to distribute millions of dollars through local arts councils throughout the state. A lot of people are very philanthropic as it relates to the arts.

I think the state can benefit from those who choose to volunteer to help, whether it’s through the purchase of a license plate or other means.

And there is a return. Obviously, $2.9 billion is a big number. And it relates to tourism. People come to Florida because they want to have a good experience, they want to visit a beautiful place. Part of the draw is the historic nature of Florida. Pensacola is a pretty good example. There is a lot of great history there and that’s part of the arts, maintaining those forts. Same thing in St. Augustine. A lot can be gained by continuing to support the arts.

We’d certainly like to be able to recommend an increase in funding next year, but that depends on the financial constraints we must live within."


Want to Ask Charlie Crist a Question? 850 editor Linda Kleindienst meets quarterly with Governor Crist to ask the questions at the top of your list. E-mail your inquiries for the governor to editor@850businessmagazine.com and look in our upcoming issues for his responses. Please include your name, e-mail address and city.