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  1. Opinion

Inclusion is both pro-business and the right thing to do

Here’s what readers had to say in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
A photo from 2018 St. Pete Pride
A photo from 2018 St. Pete Pride
Published Oct. 15, 2019

Inclusion makes us competitive

LGBTQ bill to rise again | Oct. 4

As Florida’s economy has risen from the Great Recession and grown to create millions of new jobs and opportunities, we have proudly proclaimed that the Sunshine State is open for business. Now, as we look to continue Florida’s strong economic growth, we must make it clear that our “open for business” mantra is all-inclusive and welcoming.

This recent article highlighted the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (SB 206/HB 161), a much-needed, pro-business economic issue that is smart for Florida businesses.

In fact, a recent Public Religion Research Institute poll shows that 65 percent of people in the Tampa Bay area favor nondiscrimination laws protecting their LGBT neighbors, with 68 percent in support statewide. Florida is in close competition with other states for qualified workers, and without the Competitive Workforce Act, we are certain to fall behind other states that already have anti-discrimination laws in place.

The Competitive Workforce Act is supported by Florida Competes, a coalition of 35 top employers in the state and 11 Fortune 500 companies, including Tampa Bay area-based Carlton Fields, DTCC, HSN, Marriott, Mise en Place, Raymond James, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Tech Data and the University of South Florida’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity. The reason these organizations strongly support this bill is simple: The Competitive Workforce Act reflects the best practices in hiring among Fortune 500 companies, 83 percent of which already provide comprehensive protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s time for Florida to stand by all those whose work has lifted the state to new economic success. Let’s do the right thing and finally pass the Competitive Workforce Act.

John Tonnison, Clearwater

The writer is president of Florida Competes and executive vice president and chief information officer of Tech Data.

Lest we forget

The ghost town | Oct. 10

The slab of the Tea Room, one of the spaces in the old Driftwood Inn, sits bare on Thursday, September 26, 2019, in Mexico Beach as the family works through plans to rebuild. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]

Thanks to journalists Zachary Sampson, Douglas Clifford and Langston Taylor for keeping Mexico Beach front and center. Sharing the human stories is a valuable reminder that hurricanes inflict much more than just monetary damage in our state. We drove through Mexico Beach last May and saw the physical damage, but now we know the stories of the people, and that has an even greater impact.

Tony Leisner, Tarpon Springs

Money that will save lives

$13.92B for fighting disease | Oct. 11

U.S. leadership on the world stage just got a boost. A bipartisan congressional delegation committed the vital and traditional one-third of the funding for the next three-year budget of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. That encouraged a long line of leaders from other countries to step up and make their own pledges. This means the fund, a public-private partnership, can save 16 million more lives, in addition to the millions already saved since its founding in 2002. Tampa Bay area Reps. Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist and Sen. Marco Rubio have supported these efforts. We local advocates thank them for championing the end of these epidemics. When that happens, these diseases that often go along with poverty will take a fatal hit.

Linda Schatz, Tampa

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