Make us your home page
Instagram

State business licensing official brings businesswomen's seminar to Tampa

His official title sounds hefty — the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation — but Ken Lawson says his primary duty is straightforward.

"My job is to protect citizens, enforce the law and balance it with ways to help businesses grow," he said.

Appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011, the former federal prosecutor oversees the agency that is charged with licensing and regulating businesses and professionals. This includes the areas of cosmetology, construction and real estate, three industries that have grown tremendously in the state in the last few years, Lawson said.

Also growing fast is the number of female-owned businesses in the state.

Lawson's office was unable to provide a breakdown of the new professional and business license applications by gender.

But according to the National Women's Business Council, female-owned businesses increased 39.8 percent in Florida from 2007 to 2012, and about 39 percent of Florida businesses are owned by women.

Nationwide, growth was 27.5 percent during that period, according to the NWBC.

Another study ranked Tampa Bay 11th among 25 major metropolitan owners for growth and economic clout among female-owned businesses.

Lawson's office has recognized women taking the reins in business by hosting a series of gatherings where local female business owners can network and hear career advice and entrepreneurial experiences from top female business leaders.

Now in its fifth year, "Celebrating Women in Business" has previously convened in Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Gainesville.

On Thursday, Lawson brings the series to downtown Tampa at the University of South Florida's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, or CAMLS.

Sitting on the panel are some of the most prominent businesswomen in the area, including Sheila McDevitt, retired senior vice president of general counsel for TECO; Rosie Paulsen, owner of brokerage firm Good Faith Insurance Services; and Machelle Maner, vice president of community development for Wells Fargo.

Maner said she's looking forward to sharing her experience and hearing those of other leaders.

"I think it will be one of those sessions where we learn as much as we get," she said.

Lennise Jackson-Germany, owner of Riverview's Livy O's Catering, said such events are valuable for young female entrepreneurs like her.

"Anytime I can learn from women who have walked in my shoes is priceless," she said.

The gatherings are high-energy settings, but the tone of the discussion has varied from city to city, said Lawson, who moved to Tampa in 1994.

For example, the meeting was "very spiritual" in Gainesville whereas Orlando had a more formal atmosphere, he said.

In addition to the panel discussions, Lawson said other ways his office is helping female-owned companies grow includes decreasing "the barriers to do business."

For example, Lawson said he has initiated changes that have revamped the licensing application process.

Prior to Lawson's tenure, anyone seeking a Florida professional license had to wait 45 days for approval.

That wait time has now been reduced to just two days, he said.

Removing archaic and redundant language from the application helped to better streamline the process, he said.

Additionally, the department has partnered with the University of West Florida to host a conference where veterans and women can learn how to start technology-based businesses, he said.

It's all to assist Florida businesses — owned by both women and men — in flourishing, he said.

"The bottom line as a department is we're sending a message to Floridians that we're trying to help you," he said. "We're constantly looking at what we can do differently."

A Gainesville native, Lawson studied international affairs at Florida State University and before moving on to the university's College of Law.

His resume includes stints as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, a presidential appointment as assistant secretary of enforcement for the U.S. Department of Treasury and assistant chief counsel for field operations with the Transportation Security Administration.

Lawson, 51, was the vice president for compliance for Tampa's financial services firm nFinanSe when Scott tapped him for the secretary job.

He said he's focused on giving his time as secretary "my all, my best," noting that he is the longest-serving person in the position in the last 16 years.

"I've been really lucky," he said.

Contact Kenya Woodard at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

>>If you go

Celebrating Women in Business

The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation's free female-focused panel discussion will be from 1-3 p.m. Thursday in the second floor auditorium at the University of South Florida's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, 124 S Franklin St. RSVP for a spot via email to communications@myfloridalicense.com.

State business licensing official brings businesswomen's seminar to Tampa 03/24/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains

    Banking

    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  2. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. A new app will help you find your favorite Tampa Bay food trucks

    Food & Dining

    What's new: Food tech

    Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.

    Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asked about an app to help find their favorite food trucks. There is, available for iPhones and Droids.
  4. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton stood poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.
[SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN   |   Times]
  5. Clearwater-based USAmeriBank acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal

    Banking

    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.
[KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times]