published: Sunday, October 06, 2013
Heartland leaders gather for to hear Gov. Scott speak
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - Education and economic development representatives from all over the heartland turned out at the Highlands County convention center Thursday evening to hear Florida Governor Rick Scott talk about the relationship academia has with the development of business in the Sunshine State.
Organized by the six-county Florida Heartland Rural Economic Development Initiative, an array of economic development board members and county commissioners were joined at the Highlands County convention center by school superintendents, administrators and school board members from Highlands, Desoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry and Okeechobee counties.
Dubbed "The number one recruiter for Florida," Scott first gave the crowd a keynote address then answered questions from school board chairman Andy Tuck and FHREDI Chief Executive Officer Gina Reynolds.
Scott took the opportunity to tout his programs for better education and lower taxes as the cornerstone of a plan to make Florida the top business location in the world.
"We have to make this the place where businesses can be more successful," he told the audience. "Florida is the land of opportunity - we have better education, lower taxes and we are the gateway to Latin America."
The governor told the audience that recent statistics show that Florida fourth graders are second in the nation in reading. He also recognized a number of students in attendance both from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program as well as those participating in the International Baccalaureate program
Scott told the crowd that government should allow people to be successful and to make it easy to do business
"I believe in the dream. I believe that anything is possible in this country," Scott said. "It does not matter where you start - rich or poor, rural area or big city - anything is possible. There should be no limitations."
Saying that Florida is competing with the rest of the world, he noted that businesses could not be successful if they could not recruit good people. Therefore, the link between education and economic development is vital.
"If we don't tie education to economic development, we don't win," he said. "I have not talked to anybody in college who expects to be unemployed. They all want jobs."
Scott told students in the audience that their responsibility was to determine a job path for themselves and to weigh the cost of their education against the benefit they expected to see in the workplace after they graduate.
To that end, Scott said that currently there are 260,000 job availabilities in the state. He attributed that to the lowering of taxes and the reduction of regulations, which has allowed businesses hampered by the recession to now be allowed to flourish.
Following the recovery of tourism, agriculture and the manufacturing sector - Scott pointed to technology as the next step in the process. He noted recent expansions by Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld as current economic indicators as well as large agricultural purchases made in Florida by the Coca Cola company.
"Florida is the fourth biggest state in aerospace and aviation jobs and the military industry is moving here because we are military-friendly," he said.
Those trends, Scot maintained, demonstrate that Florida is moving in the right direction.
"We need to get our students involved in science, technology, engineering and math," he said.
Scott pointed to a recent discussion he'd had with an un-named technology business that had made a significant amount of new hires - none of which had been schooled in America.
"That cannot be allowed to continue," he said.
Scott pledged to continue to work on the improvement of education and the resolution of business problems in the state.
Wait??? Better living conditions... (by: D.J.Steward - 10/8/2013)
What in the heck is wrong with the living conditions of the inmates? Are they feed, do they have a roof over their head, can they read, watch TV?
scott (by: amw - 10/7/2013)
He need to focus on more important issues like education and more food stamps and more better living conditions for inmates.
Get it Right! (by: Two ears, one mouth! - 10/6/2013)
It is named the Highlands Today Center, not the Highlands County convention center. Florida fourth graders are second in the WORLD, not nation in reading.
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