December 21, 2014

Florida Newsmakers of the Year

Business - Florida Newsmakers of the Year

Mike Vogel | 1/1/2011

• MARK WILSON
President/CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Mark Wilson
[Photo:Ray Stanyard]
Wielding Political Clout

If there was any doubt going into the November election about what a political powerhouse the Florida Chamber of Commerce under Mark Wilson has become, the results eliminated it. Granted, there was the Republican wave. But the chamber's $5.5 million in spending and politicking helped build it. The Hometown Democracy proposal was crushed; 76 of the 80 candidates the chamber endorsed won. "We put our best effort into unifying the business community behind the right issues and the right candidates," says Wilson. "I think the unions and trial lawyers woke up this year and said, ‘Where did this come from?' "

Wilson says the endorsements are about helping Florida transition to a new economy by backing candidates who will support the chamber's views on education, business climate, quality of life, infrastructure and so on. Wilson integrates the chamber's "Six Pillars" initiative, mantra-like, into any chamber gathering.

"My third-grader is not growing up to compete with kids in Atlanta, New York or Dallas. My third-grader is growing up to compete with kids in India and China," Wilson says. "The state needs us to lead."

The chamber, which Fort Lauderdale billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga supported in 2010 with a $1-million gift, has 30 lobbyists and a robust research arm. "This isn't a job for me," Wilson says. "This is a mission. I'm ultra-focused like a laser beam on transitioning this economy."

Business
Mark Wilson
Wilbur Ross Jr.
Lola Gonzalez
John Textor
Robert Clements
Thomas Gaffney
Hugh Green
R.J. Scaringe
Foreclosure Fighters
Julian MacQueen

Politics
Mel Martinez & The Dominoes

Military
Florida's Fallen Soldiers

Education
Frank Brogan
Maryellen Elia

Science/Innovation
Win Phillips & David Day
Ian MacDonald & William Hogarth

Environment
Extreme Temperatures

CRITTERS
Mystery Monkey

Sports
Tampa Bay Rays' Top Brass
Pat Riley

Volunteer/Non-Profit
Barth Green

Arts/Entertainment
New World Symphony
Pitbull
Pamela Tuscany

Dubious Achievers
Scott Rothstein
David Brooks

Jim Greer
Wayne McLeod
Lewis Freeman
Pawl Hawks
Lee Farkas

Tags: Business Services

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