After much frustration and irritation with Unified Command, the State of Florida has decided to take control of the State’s proactive measures in protecting our shorelines from the threatening oil slick that resulted from an oil rig explosion on April 20, 2010.

Governor Charlie Crist issued an executive order creating the “Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force” (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Task Force” which will facilitate efforts by Florida businesses and industries recovering from the loss of business and revenues due to the Oil Spill.

The Task Force will take on the task of:

– Coordinating the state agencies efforts to assist small businesses and industries.

– Monitor BP’s efforts in providing financial relief to impacted businesses and industries, including but not limited to the claim process.

– Coordinate processes and efforts to gather economic loss data and industry economic indicators.

– Ensure through a marketing plan, that the vitality of the business and tourism industry continue to prosper.

– Develop a web site to disseminate information and to communicate with businesses and industries.

The Task Force will be compiled by appointment of the Governor. Membership of the Task Force shall reflect a broad spectrum of interested parties such as the:

– Director of the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development

– Secretary of the Department of Children and Families

– Director of the Division of Management

– Executive Director of the Fish and Wildlife Commission

– Director of the Agency for Workforce Innovation

– Governor’s Director of the Office of Policy and Budget

– Executive Director of the Department of Revenue

–  A representative of Visit Florida

–  A representative of the Small Business Administration

–  A representative of the League of Cities

– A representative of the Association of Counties

– A representative of a local Chamber of Commerce

– A representative of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association

– A representative of the National Association of Charterboat Operators

– A representative of the seafood industry

The Task Force can also call on other State agency, department, division, or office to supply such data, reports or other information that is necessary to achieve its objectives and requests specifically for the Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture to cooperate with the Task Force and provide it with such information, personnel, and assistance as necessary.

The Task Force will also ensure Florida continues marketing Florida as a tourism destination and provides information to Florida businesses and industries in coastal areas, including the fishing, wholesale trade, tourism, retail and manufacturing industries.

The Task Force will be required to send in a monthly report to the Governor outlining their non- compensated support efforts.  The meetings will be noted and open to the public.

As a life long Floridan, I applaud the Governor and supporting cabinet’s stance to take recovery matters into their own hands. If we waited for BP, ahem, Unified Command, to organize our State’s efforts- our proactive intention would turn into an after-the-fact effort resulting in catastrophic loss for animals and businesses alike.

I am proud of my fellow Floridians for standing up and coming together in this time of need. Together, we CAN make a difference!!