Bush Announces Creation
Destination Florida Commission
TALLAHASSEE - Governor Jeb Bush today
announced the creation of the new Destination Florida commission (see attached
biographies below). The commission will evaluate Florida's competitive
position in attracting retirees and to make recommendations for the future
that would make Florida more retiree friendly. The commission will continue
the Governor's Communities for a Lifetime initiative, which encourages
communities to prepare for the retirement of the baby boomer generation.
to focus on enhancing state's senior friendly image and attracting senior
residents and retirees
"Florida is a senior friendly state. For
more than half a century, Florida's beautiful natural environment and rich
cultural heritage have made our state the destination of choice for retirees,"
said Governor Bush. "We are committed to maintaining our first place ranking,
and will aggressively sell the advantages of living in Florida to all of
our nation's seniors."
Since the 1950s, Florida has been the destination
of choice for one in every four migrating retirees. In the 1960s and 1970s,
the state's age 55 and older population grew by 65 percent each decade.
During the 1980s, that figure declined to 29 percent with the percentage
continuing to drop during the 1990s to a 19 percent rate.
While many factors may have contributed
to this decline, there has been a growing interest nationwide in the value
of this population to a region's economy resulting in greater competition
in luring seniors by other states. In the 1980s, several states in and
out of the Sun Belt have formed retiree attraction programs. As a result,
Florida began to see a decline in seniors choosing to relocate and retire
in the Sunshine State.
"We recognize the significant
contributions seniors make to the state of Florida,"
said Terry White, Secretary of the Department
of Elder Affairs. "People are living longer than ever before and living
longer lives often means living better lives. In Florida, we appreciate
our seniors who bring a wealth of wisdom and experience to our communities,
businesses, schools and religious organizations."
Destination Florida is expected to provide
an interim report this fall, as well as make final recommendations to the
Governor and Secretary White in January 2003. The first meeting is scheduled
to take place before August 15, 2002. Using the recent Thomas Warren &
Associates study as a baseline to begin their analysis, the commission
will do the following:
Governor Bush's Communities for a Lifetime
initiative currently involves 46 Florida communities that have made a commitment
to becoming "senior ready." These communities seek to become more senior-friendly
through conducting a self-assessment of traffic signals, street signage,
access to affordable housing, medical services and many other aspects of
daily life. Through this program, the Department of Elder Affairs seeks
greater commitment from a variety of state and local agencies and organizations
in an effort to raise awareness of the needs of seniors. The initiative
also seeks to engage counties, cities and towns in planning and designing
communities prepared for the future.
Look at ways to retain Florida's position
as the nation's most desirable retirement destination;
Evaluate Florida's current attractiveness
to age 50 and older baby boomers;
Develop recommendations for improving Florida's
competitive position in attracting seniors;
Examine ways to make Florida a user-friendly
environment for people in all stages of retirement as begun under the Communities
for a Lifetime initiative;
Recommend programs to ensure adequate services
are available at all stages of aging;
Work with businesses to ensure the affordability,
availability and accessibility of services and products for retirees.
The commission includes experts in the
areas of health care, housing, social services, marketing and promotion,
professional services, geriatrics, transportation and information technology.
Don Shula, will serve as Honorary
Chair of the Commission. Serving 33 years as an NFL coach and founder of
a successful restaurant business, Mr. Shula will share a wealth of knowledge
in community amenities and business. He lives in Miami where he served
as head coach of the Miami Dolphins for 26 years.
T. O'Neal Douglas, who will serve
as chair of the commission is the retired as chairman of the American Heritage
Life Insurance Company. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience
about business, insurance and economics. He is also former chairman of
the Florida TaxWatch. He lives in Jacksonville.
Mae-Louise Baker, a retired professor
from Florida State University, in Tallahassee. She has experience in the
Sena Black, senior vice president
of marketing and information, Enterprise Florida, has more than 20 years'
experience in economic development and authored more than 20 publications
in her field of expertise. She lives in Orlando.
Tess Canja, immediate past president
of AARP, she served on the Governor's Commission on Aging to develop the
Department of Elder Affairs. She lives in Port Charlotte and is knowledgeable
about aging issues.
Irene DeLaby, a retired educator
and education administrator. She is an active volunteer and has lead the
6,000 state park volunteers. She lives in Homosassa Springs and brings
expertise on community amenities.
Otto "Buz" DiVosta is president,
DiVosta Investments, LLC. He has built more than 24,000 residences with
his DiVosta organizations during the past 42 years. He lives in Palm Beach
Gardens and has knowledge in quality construction and the residential building
Pedro J. Greer, Jr., M.D., a physician
in Miami, currently serves as the Department of Elder Affairs Advisory
Council chairman. He operates a medical clinic in Miami and is an international
lecturer. He has extensive experience in both health care and housing issues.
Maritza Gutierrez, owner of Creative
Ideas Advertising in Miami, has been involved in public relations and marketing
for 20 years. She also served on a think tank in Miami to respond to citizens'
concerns. She will assist the Commission with marketing Florida's image.
Adm. Dan Lestage, M.D., U.S. Navy
(ret.) from Orange Park, is certified in public health and a fellow in
Preventive Health. He retired as Inspector General for the Bureau of Medicine
and Surgery at the Naval Medical Department in Washington, D.C., and offers
his experience in medical care.
Barbara Lindstrom, a field coordinator
with the National Benevolent Association, has special expertise in housing
issues. She lives in St. Petersburg and is an advocate for the elderly
on housing issues.
Clarence McKee, CEO and president
of McKee Communications, Inc. and McKee Acquisitions Corp., and works in
the area of radio, television and cable property acquisitions. He is a
resident of Tampa.
Richard A. Nunis, president of New
Business Solutions, has special expertise in community amenities and tourism.
He is also a member of the University of Central Florida's Board of Trustees
and lives in Orlando.
John Ruffin, Jr., president and
CEO of The Ruffin Group, is a specialist in information technology. He
lives in Fort Lauderdale.
William J. Schoen, chairman of Health
Management Associates, lives in Naples and brings special knowledge of
healthcare and geriatrics.