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  1. Letters to the Editor

Thursday's letters: Visit Florida key for mom and pop businesses

Published Apr. 5, 2017

Visit Florida

Key promotion for small business

Our island and fishing charter business, Island Paradise Charters, has two boats, with a team of four navigating the gulf and a dockside office where I handle sales — but with the help of Visit Florida and its 12,000 industry partners, we have a marketing team of thousands.

I've lived in Pasco County for six years and love the community. However, unlike Disney or Miami, Pasco isn't at the top of anyone's dream vacation list. If we are going to get visitors here, we've got to build awareness, show consumers what unique experiences we offer and sell them on coming here versus the countless other options in the increasingly competitive travel industry internationally. While we're out on the boat, Visit Florida and Visit Pasco County tell the world about us day after day.

If funding to state and local tourism promotion is slashed, small businesses like ours will disappear. Small mom and pop businesses are not professional marketers. We need the help and support of Visit Florida to be more effective, and we're proud to be their partner.

If you doubt the critical need for tourism promotion, read Florida TaxWatch's report on the subject. One of the most staggering conclusions found that if just 5 million fewer people visit Florida next year, 71,000 people would lose their jobs in 2018. That number is nearly five times greater than New Port Richey's entire population.

I urge Florida House members to reconsider their budget recommendations, because thousands of their constituents' jobs are at stake.

Ed Caum, New Port Richey

The writer is director of marketing and sales for Island Paradise Charters and Adrenaline Charters in New Port Richey.

Food access

Bills help improve nutrition

More than 74 percent of adults in Florida do not consume enough fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. Add to that, 62 percent of Floridians register an unhealthy weight.

If you dig beneath the numbers, one of the key drivers behind diseases linked to poor eating habits is that far too many Tampa Bay residents don't live within close proximity to a major grocery store.

Our lawmakers have an opportunity to make healthy food more accessible this legislative session by supporting SB 1592 and HB 1083. This initiative would help corner store owners located in low food access areas develop the infrastructure needed to market and sell fresh produce, lean meats and lowfat dairy.

Without question, preventing heart disease is a wiser investment than having to address the consequences of a poor diet. This initiative would save both lives and money.

Dr. Arthur Labovitz, Tampa

The writer is chair of the USF Health Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.

Weak sales strike area Goodwills | March 28

Too many expenses

So the CEO of Goodwill Industries-Suncoast is uncertain why sales are declining in her district so drastically. Aside from freezing some apparently outsized executive compensation packages, perhaps she should reconsider Goodwill's practice in recent years of constructing expensive new buildings or renting space in premium retail locations. I stopped dealing with Goodwill years ago for that reason, and perhaps others feel the same.

Just imagine how much additional help they could have been providing to needy clients if they hadn't been funneling so much money into unnecessary construction and expensive commercial leases. There are plenty of thrift store operations that aren't spending their dollars like that.

Scott Conrad, St. Petersburg

Neighbors help each other

Perhaps folks should try what we did in our community. We decided to cut out the middleman and share among neighbors. We had a central location and folks donated in the morning; we organized the items by type around lunchtime; and folks arrived in the afternoon to see if there was anything they wanted or needed.

It was great to meet neighbors and a good feeling when a neighbor found something he or she could use. No money changed hands, only conversation and information.

Everyone should try sharing with neighbors; it feels great!

Darlene Raudabaugh, Brandon

Break cycle with parent training | March 24, letter

Lessons from Singapore

There was a very good letter recently on why so many other countries do a better job educating their children than we do. Basically, it said it boiled down to the failure of the family and the support of parents.

I did some research on Singapore, which has the highest-rated educational system in the world. First, the children go from school from January through November with a break of one month in June. They base their system on meritocracy and lots of homework. Almost 70 percent of the families hire tutors and demand more homework. Education, not sports, is considered the primary goal for their children. On the downside, children with special needs are left to fend for themselves.

Going back to families, 76 percent of the residents of Singapore are ethnic Chinese, unlike the melting pot of the United States, allowing them to have a more homogenous point of view. The divorce rate is around 17 percent while that in the United States is over 50 percent. Living together without being married is not against the law but is severely frowned upon.

As with everything, you can't have it all. I don't think that we have to give up our freedoms and way of life, but there are definitely some attributes that we would be wise to mimic.

Tom Craig, Riverview

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