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Jeff Atwater Promoting Forum to Help Small Businesses Help Florida

August 23, 2012 - 6:00pm

Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is seeking a little give-and-take with a group of small-business owners that may assist efforts to revamp federal financial laws or identify state regulations that need to be repealed.

Following the Republican National Convention next week, Atwater will be participating in a small-business forum in Tampa with the Jim Moran Institute at Florida State University.

The aim of the two-day 2012 Small-Business Leadership Forum, Sept. 6-7, at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel, is to connect with a sampling of the states 2.2 million small-business owners, providing information on access to capital, matters of human resources and potentially linking them with mentors and investors.

At the same time, Atwater will be mining for issues the state could use to improve the states business climate and possibly help push for the repeal of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, better known as Dodd-Frank, after sponsors Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Im certain were going to hear about the challenges they (the small-business owners) have getting access to capital, and how challenging it is that the community banks they have been with are not able to provide the credit theyre looking for andhave historically had access to, said Atwater.

Part of the reason for the limits of access to capital is due in part to Dodd-Frank, which Atwater described as horrific on community banks.

Dodd-Frank, signed into law in July 2010, has been considered a harsh measure following the late 2000 recession that has overreached in restricting financial institutions and establishing government partnerships with large Wall Street institutions.

The Wall Street lobbying firm Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association has urged Congress not to change the law as a means to keep stronger enforcement from being pushed.

With about 125 attendees expected to be on hand, with help from the Florida Chamber of Commerce identifying businesses to invite, Atwater said the intimate setting and small-group size should be helpful in exchanging ideas.

Atwater, while Senate president, backed efforts to expand Scripps Florida in Jupiter, the Burnham Research Institute in Orlando and, from California,Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in Port St. Lucie.

Ive been supportive of all these other initiatives, but what we need to be sure of is that the environment is conducive and the environment is in place for small businesses to succeed in Florida, Atwater said.

Breakout sessions during the forum will focus on selling products, managing ones brand, legal issues and cost management.

The keynote speaker is Gary Vaynerchuk, author and social media guru, who helped expand his family liquor store from a single location in Springfield, N.J., into a global wine retailer by taking their company online.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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