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Florida Business Newsmakers in 2011

FRANK SACCO
CEO, Memorial Healthcare System, Hollywood

Frank Sacco
[Photo: Eileen Escarda]

High Marks, Lower Taxes
In 2011, the public hospital district for south Broward saw its Memorial Healthcare System open a new community clinic and a free-standing Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, start its first full year of pediatric heart transplants and make Florida Trend's Best Companies to Work For and Modern Healthcare's list as well. Memorial Regional Hospital won a prestigious national quality award and, oh yes, the district cut taxes by some 41% to its lowest rate ever. An owner of a $300,000 home saw his district tax bill fall to $187.50 from $318.30 the year before.

No small credit goes to Memorial President and CEO Frank Sacco, 64, and to what can be accomplished by decades of smart boards. "We had a plan to lower our dependence on public support for a long time," Sacco says. New hospitals in the western suburbs over the decades gave Memorial, the fifth-largest public healthcare system in the nation, the patient mix to pay the bills and suck up the cost of hospital care for the indigent and uninsured — a figure that, comparing it to how most hospitals report such costs, is $1 billion, though Sacco says the real cost is $194 million. Now, tax money goes mainly to primary care for the uninsured and some to Memorial's nursing home
to pay for uninsured care there.

Sacco, who has been with the district since 1974 and CEO since 1987, says the district will be able to keep up the low taxes for at least the near term though the national healthcare "reform is going to take a chunk out of everybody."

— Mike Vogel

LEW HAY
CEO, NextEra Energy, Juno Beach

Lew Hay
[Photo: Supernova Foto LLC]

Coming Clean
In 2011, Florida Power & Light knocked down the towering stacks at a 1960s-era power plant in Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County to clear the site for a cleaner, more fuel-efficient natural gas plant, part of $2.4 billion the utility is spending there and to replace a plant near Kennedy Space Center. Under Lew Hay, chairman and CEO of FPL parent NextEra Energy, the Juno Beach company is spending up to $11 billion in Florida through 2014 on new plants and up to $4 billion nationally on solar while also expanding
wind generation.

Hay, who joined NextEra as CFO in 1999, has been CEO since 2001 and chairman since 2002. He's made NextEra a leader in modernizing utilities and in alternative energy generation. NextEra's wind, solar and nuclear business alone would rank as a Fortune 500 company. He also influences energy policy as vice chair of the investor-owned electric utility association, the Edison Electric Institute, and in 2011 took a seat on President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The company also began a collaboration with Scripps Florida on clean energy research last year.

Under Hay, 15,000-employee NextEra placed first in 2011 on Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies list in the electric and gas utility sector and in the top 10 overall for most socially responsible companies. EnergyBiz magazine in 2011 made him its CEO of the year and Ethisphere magazine named NextEra one of the most ethical companies.

— Mike Vogel

PETER RUMMELL
Businessman, Jacksonville

Peter Rummell
[Photo: James Crichlow/Jacksonville Business Journal]

Civic Engagement
Longtime Florida business heavyweight Peter Rummell hasn't put himself out to pasture since he retired 2½ years ago. The Jacksonville resident, who was CEO of St. Joe Co. for 12 years, helped form a non-partisan group called the Civic Council. That group has identified core issues it wants to keep the city's civic leaders focused on. Independently of the group, Rummell, a GOP stalwart, made news by endorsing Democrat Alvin Brown for mayor and writing a check to Brown's campaign. Support from Rummell — and from much of the city's business community — was considered a big factor in Brown's upset of Republican Mike Hogan, a former state representative and Duval County tax collector who was backed by Associated Industries of Florida, the tea party and police and firefighters unions.

— Mark R. Howard

BRUCE BERKOWITZ
Investor, Coral Gables

Shaking up St. Joe

Bruce Berkowitz[Photo: AP]
Fairholme Capital Management chief Bruce Berkowitz got his way in 2011 with Watersound-based developer St. Joe Co., one of Florida's largest landowners. Berkowitz, St. Joe's largest shareholder through Fairholme, rained criticism on President and CEO Britt Greene and the company's board, leading to Greene's departure. Berkowitz became chairman and got to put his own people on the board, including former Gov. Charlie Crist. That was the highlight for Berkowitz, a transplant to Coral Gables from New Jersey who otherwise had a bad year. The Morningstar Manager of the Decade in 2010 saw his fund fall 27% thanks to big bets on financial stocks. Charles Fernandez, Fairholme president and co-manager, described in several profiles as Berkowitz's right-hand man, resigned for "personal reasons." Berkowitz's office declined an interview.

— Mike Vogel

MINDY GROSSMAN
CEO, HSN, St. Petersburg

Mindy Grossman
[Photo: HSN]
No Drop in this Shop
HSN — formerly Home Shopping Network — still runs second to QVC in the TV shopping game, but CEO Mindy Grossman has made the company competitive by injecting a heavy dose of style, taste and energy. This year's financial results continued to build on Grossman's success since taking over in 2006 — even as other retailers continue to struggle, HSN continues to post impressive results. Through three quarters of 2011, HSN's sales grew 7% over the previous year to more than $2.2 billion. Grossman had previous successful stints at Polo Ralph Lauren and Nike.

— Mark R. Howard

MARK MILLS & JOHN McREYNOLDS
Statewide political leadership

Mark Mills & John McReynolds
Mark Mills (left) & John Mc Reynolds [Photo: Betsy Hansen]

Growing Leaders
Mark Mills and John McReynolds, two former aides to U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, aren't just waiting for Florida's next generation of political leaders to appear — they're actively recruiting and training them through "political leadership institutes" they've established around the state ["Training Camp"]. In 2007, the duo teamed up with the Orlando-area business community to launch their first program, the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute. Over the past two years, their non-profit Political Leadership Innovation Institute has launched public leadership training development programs in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Gainesville that build "farm teams" of professionals with business-related backgrounds and prepare them for the rigors of campaigning and elected office. The institute briefs participants on everything from public budgeting and economic development to strategies for balancing public and personal life. The non-partisan program is also highly selective, with only about 25 applicants permitted per year. Graduate Alvin Brown, Jacksonville's mayor, says the institute taught him about building coalitions and how to communicate his vision for the city — and also serves higher purpose. "Getting people to get engaged in public service is a noble thing," Brown says. "It is a good thing."

— Amy Keller

UPDATE: Last Year's Floridian of the Year

ROD PETREY
Picking Up the Pieces

Rod Petrey
If Rod Petrey, our Floridian of the Year in 2011, sulked after his unceremonious departure from the Collins Center for Public Policy think tank that he headed for 19 years, he didn't sulk long. "I didn't like what happened," Petrey says. But, "I bounce right back."

To that end, Petrey, 70, founded New Equity Partners in Miami, a philanthropy dedicated to social equity that's raised money to address civic needs and continue some of the work Collins was doing — and with some former Collins personnel. Petrey won our nod last year for the center's work on foreclosure mediation and for a highly regarded, even-tempered report on oil drilling in the Gulf. But in August he was forced out of Collins amid pressure from the board about Collins' deteriorated financial health. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court is considering killing the foreclosure mediation process Collins championed, citing lackluster results.

— Mike Vogel

DEBRA ERVING
Former employee of NASA contractor Dynamac, Titusville

Debra Erving
[Photo: Betsey Hansen]

Looking and Hoping
Months before Atlantis rolled to a stop at Kennedy Space Center in July, ending the 30-year shuttle program, Debra Erving's 15-year job working for a NASA contractor came to an end. In February, as the contract she served ended, she was laid off from her job as a secretary at Dynamac. Erving's job is one of the estimated 8,000 to disappear with the shuttle program. While some workers have found new employment, or have started a business, many are struggling. Erving has exhausted her savings while submitting lots of resumes, following leads and searching. As of November, all she had was "just a lot of hope" but no bitterness. "I use my faith."

— Mike Vogel

OLGA O'DELL
Former office worker, Moore Haven

Olga O'Dell
Caption [Photo: Photographer]

Uncertain Future
Olga O'Dell, 62, of Moore Haven, was laid off from her office job at the Glades County landfill in September 2010. "I worked 17 years to get up to an average of $12 an hour." Office work, which she's done since she was 15, is scarce in rural Glades. Glades' unemployment rate in October was 7.9%, and Florida's was 10.3%.

— Mike Vogel

TOM SOLOMON
Computer technician, Boca Grande

Turning Out 'Fantastic'

Tom Solomon
[Photo: Brian Tietz]
Tom Solomon built houses for 10 years in Boca Grande until he was laid off in 2009. With his wife, a teacher, still drawing her salary to support them and three of their children, Solomon went back to school, studying until December 2010 at Charlotte Technical Center to become a computer technician. "Hard times," he says of living on one check. In February, he found a job handling the technology needs of two Charlotte County public schools. Solomon, 40, says his pay is comparable to what he was making when he was laid off but unlike in construction, where he felt he had topped out, he foresees bigger paydays as his experience grows. "It's turned out fantastic for me."

— Mike Vogel

WILLIAM TIMOTHY McCOLLUM
Truck driver, Port Charlotte

William McCollum
[Photo: Alex Stafford]

A Long Haul
After nearly three decades restoring hotels, condos, hospitals and office buildings around the country, overseeing as many as 120 workers toward the end of his career, former general construction superintendent William Timothy "Tim" McCollum in 2011 joined the roughly 1 million Floridians who were unemployed. He promptly retrained and in a matter of weeks was a long-haul truck driver. "Everything in the world gets delivered by truck except babies," he says. The Port Charlotte resident works as an independent contractor for a Kansas company, leasing a purple truck his family nicknamed Barney (after the TV dinosaur). He spends most days hauling meat from the Midwest to the east coast and dry goods on the return leg. McCollum, 52, sleeps in his cab and sees home once a month — actually more than he did in construction. The pay, he says, is comparable and it comes with "a lot less headaches."

— Mike Vogel