Clean Eating at the Farmers Market

Clean Eating at the Farmers MarketEating clean means eating good, local, and seasonal foods that nourish a healthy body. We’ve recently seen a variety of food movements including “The Paleo Diet”, “Farm to Table”, and “Field to Fork”, and while they have different details, they all have one common message inviting us to get back to eating foods the way nature intended.

Foods that are environmentally sustainable, natural, and grown in ways that treat animals and workers well, are gaining in popularity as more and more folks are demanding greater transparency from agricultural corporations to learn what we really are putting into our bodies.

We are learning that the soy and corn fields of yesterday introduced a plethora of new foods, boxed products, fast and convenient foods, processed foods, sweetened beverages, and meats infused with growth hormones and antibiotics. This way of feeding the masses became the “norm” and along with it we’ve seen a strong correlation to health problems such as obesity, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure. There have also been scandals such as mad cow disease and E.coli outbreaks that encouraged us to question how our food is being prepared.

Seasonal foods are grown naturally and require less interference. Land and labor are cheaper in foreign countries, making the price of an out of season product attractive, but purchasing off-season foods not only hurt the environment by using more fuel in shipping, but it also hurts the local economy by not purchasing from your neighbors. Farmers markets are a great way to get back to the basics. Local foods, grown in your backyard, your community, your state or your region, leave a smaller footprint on the environment.

The Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers market, open every Saturday on North Seventh Street in historic Fernandina Beach, offers a wide variety of locally grown, or prepared foods. Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables are readily available, but they may look a little different than their grocery store counterparts. You won’t find the waxed cucumbers or the gassed oranges you may see in the big box stores where produce is mass distributed, and you may even find a bug or two instead of a thin coating of pesticides.

In Florida (and California), we have the majority of the “native-to-the-Americas” fruits and vegetables and our produce vendors have a nice supply of seasonal foods, year-round. Much of the produce is harvested on Fridays, right before the market. Our bakers are baking within hours of the market’s opening. The local shrimp is caught wild, and even the dog treat vendor offers the freshest possible treats for your best friend.

When you come to the farmers market, we invite you to look at the labels and ask open ended questions to learn more about the processes our producers and growers use. Our exhibitors love to talk about their products and they are a wealth of information; you may even learn your next favorite recipe!

We are open from 9:00 to 1:00, rain or shine. For more information, please visit

Property Taxes and the Rollback Rate

Apply for Homestead Exemption before March 1, 2014Article by: Mike Hickox, Nassau County Property Appraiser

For the past four years, real estate values have experienced a steady increase and we have seen an improvement in overall market conditions. As the economy improves, the inventory of existing homes for sale has been reduced and values have steadily increased. The increase in value does not necessarily translate to an increase in your property tax. The increase in taxes is a direct result of the decision of the taxing authority.

The market value of a property is determined by one of three approaches to value. The most common being the sales comparison approach. This approach compares a piece of property to other properties with similar characteristics that have been recently sold on the open market. Once we determine the value of a property based on current market conditions, we then apply any applicable caps and exemptions to determine the property’s taxable value. It’s important to note that we do not determine the market value of a property. Previous sales determine the market value. We reflect what is happening in the real estate market only after it takes place.

There’s a common misconception that property values drive up ad-valorem taxation. This couldn’t be farther from the truth as both items, while similar in nature, have a very different meaning.

The Property Appraiser’s Office certifies the preliminary tax roll every year to each taxing authority. It is the taxing authorities (i.e. County, School Board, City, Water Management, etc.) who levy their millage (tax-rate) based on their financial needs. Using the scenario that property values increase, the taxing authority has one of three options.

1. Maintain the same tax-rate as the prior year and bring in additional revenue.
2. Increase the tax-rate and bring in more revenue.
3. Opt to use the Rollback rate and maintain the same revenue as the prior year.

The Rollback rate calls for a change, typically a decrease, in the tax rate to fund the same level of service as the prior year’s budget. This in fact prevents a tax increase for property owners, even though your property’s taxable value may have increased. Taxing Authorities, like the County, are calculating rates based on aggregate changes in taxable value. The change to the taxable value of an individual property could be different for each owner.

Always remember – it’s the Property Appraiser’s job to appraise your property to a fair market value each year. If you feel your property is not assessed correctly, call us, we are more than happy to discuss it with you. However, if you feel your taxes are too high, call your Commissioners. I’m certain they will be happy to discuss their tax rate with you.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Property Appraiser. It truly is an honor and privilege.

New Banks May Finally be on the Horizon

Coral Gables, FL – BauerFinancial, Inc., the nation’s leading independent bank rating firm, applauds FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg after recent remarks that both championed community banks and tried to spur interest in de novo applications.

In his own words:
* Community banks are the only banks with a physical presence in a fifth of all U.S. counties.

* Community banks account for 44% of all small business and farm loans and most small business lending by large banks is only via credit cards.

* Banks that had less than $100 million in assets in 1985 were the most resilient of any size group in the 30 years since.

* 93% of the industry today meets FDIC’s research definition of “community bank” (less than $1 billion in assets AND operating in a traditional manner of lending and deposit gathering).

* FDIC research has found that most economies of scale are reached at the $100 million dollar asset level; they cease to realize any significant benefits beyond the $300 million asset mark.

* Community banks have been outpacing the industry as a whole in many areas, including earnings growth, and loan growth in: residential mortgages; C&I loans; and CRE loans.

* In spite of the drastic consolidation in the banking industry over the past 30 years, there are roughly the same number of banks with assets between $100 million and $1 billion today as there were in 1985, and they hold a higher volume of assets.

The FDIC is looking for ways to facilitate the process of establishing new community banks and has seen indications of increased interest in de novo charter applications in recent quarters, and that is music to our ears. From 1980-2000, an average of more than 200 de novos opened each year. Then it began to drop. By 2008, there were only 98 new charters and in the seven years since, there have been just 45. In fact, in three of the last five years there were zero. Anything done to spur interest is a positive.

BauerFinancial provides star-ratings on all federally-insured banks and credit unions. To look up the rating of your bank or credit union, simply visit

It’s Simple. It’s Smart. And it’s Free.

BauerFinancial has been providing the public with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions regarding their banking relationships since 1983… BauerFinancial is the source that bankers and consumers trust when making important banking decisions.

Have a Cigar !!

Just a little bit closer

Just a little bit closer

Almost unnoticed by the mainstream press, or so it seems, Cuba opened its Washington DC Embassy last Monday after 54 years of absence – and even more quietly the US opened its embassy in Havana, waiting for John Kerry to make some time to attend the official flag raising in a couple of weeks. Of course some hotheaded South Florida Cuban fossils protested loudly against Kerry’s statement that “although the two nations differ on basic issues ranging from human rights to political systems, both will be better served by engagement rather than estrangement”.

Leaving self-serving politician’s like Ross-Lehtinen, Calzon including even presidential contender Jeb Bush’s ignorant Tweet that “engaging with Cuba will only further legitimize the repressive regime” to stand in its own isolation, I would like to focus on the real culprit in the hen house, the trade embargo, a penalty the US often uses as a last ditch move to express its frustration with governments that are not willing to walk the politically ‘correct’ line. Interesting here is that the nincom-poops in Congress and their favorite economists in this country, still haven’t figured out the longterm consequences of embargoes in a geo-political sense.
For those who are actually interested in learning a bit more about how things really work, instead of eating the digested party-line crap that comes from Washington and mainstream media, here is a longterm view of what embargoes usually accomplish.

China’s Economic Embargo

The US embargoed China for 20+ years starting in 1950.
Together with allies in Europe and postwar Japan, we implemented the most thorough economic embargo ever on China at the start of the Korean War, which covered over 400 classes of products, including farm, fish and forestry products, fertilizers, coal, chemicals and metals, passenger cars, agricultural, industrial and office equipment and certain electronic and communications equipment. Trains and airplanes belonged to the “don’t even think about it” categories. The embargo lasted from 1950 – 1971. It taught China a lesson – whatever you don’t make, you don’t have.

Tricky Dicky changed that in 1971 when the U.S. Ended the Ban on China Trade .

The direct result is that today, China is the most embargo-resistant country in the world by far.

There is no other country, not the US, not Russia, as embargo-resistant as China.
If you want to know how big a lesson China had learned, just look at wheat yield development and the consequence of starvation. Not trying to point out the responsibility of policy decisions that starve millions of people to death, but when fertilizer is embargoed, and you don’t know how to make it yourself, well, you get to starve.
So here is a story to take into consideration when talking about normalizing relations with Cuba even though the scales are vastly different.

main-qimg-41442c44b5c5fceab2f2d30010a1389cThis is a reflection of the wheat yield per hectare in China between 1949 and 1999. Agricultural yield depends on three factors: irrigation, seed, fertilizer. China had irrigation and seed, but fertilizer was embargoed. In 1949 the yield was about 600 kg/hectare, and according to the US ambassador at that time, 3 – 7 million people in China starved to death every year before 1949. It was basically subsistence-level farming. The famous “Great Leap Forward” in 1958 – 1961 caused the little dip in yield you see on the graph from 1958 – 1961, which people blamed it on Mao’s wrong agriculture policy. Just a little dip, and mass starvation was the result. But once the embargo lifted in 1971 and fertilizers started flowing into China, the wheat yield experienced a 5-fold increase, from 600 kg/hectare to 3200 kg/hectare! Yeah, if the fertilizer had started flowing in earlier, China would not have been nearly so fragile that any policy mistake leads to mass starvation. But when fertilizer is embargoed, and you don’t know how to make it yourself, well, you get to starve.

The one country who helped China the most at that time was Russia. Russia probably won’t do so ever again, but back then it was a communist country and actually believed in just giving technologies to fellow communist countries for free. A lot of countries got their domestic industries started this way, but China, despite the fact that most of the population were illiterate, turned out to have benefited the most . Russia transferred 156 complete industrial lines to China in the 50’s and 60’s, including coal, iron, engine, tire, tooling, fertilizer, etc. Almost all of them are heavy industries that are out of date by now, but it’s like somebody has to move from elementary school to middle school to high school to university – without this transition, the Chinese would have a really hard time catching on to the more advanced technologies later. The Russians were really good – taught the Chinese hand-by-hand every step of the way.

Many people believed that was the result of the “trust-building exercise” of the Korean War, where over 200,000 Chinese lost their lives. This was the beginning of transforming China from a poor starving farm to a huge profitable factory.

Then as soon as the embargo was lifted, the Chinese government in the 70’s spent a lot of money to buy technology from Germany, France, Japan, and the other Western countries, and started building their own chemical and transportation industries from scratch. 20 years later, China had enough industrial knowledge to be able to reverse-engineer most of the stuff she ever laid her eyes on. The “market for technology” strategy later on, when the Chinese market grew big enough to be attractive, also helped moving a lot of production to China.

With the fall of USSR in the 90’s, the US and her allies started the “globalization”, basically move the low-margin businesses out of the country and keep the high-margin businesses (like finance, etc.) in. Well, China has a different take on this. After all, it’s the country that has been put under the most extreme embargo for over 20 years. She doesn’t care about money as much as whether she gets to have the stuff, because if there is any disturbance in the normal functioning market, you can have money but nowhere to buy the stuff. So she jumped enthusiastically onto the globalization bandwagon and yelled, “come, globalized your stuff to me! I’ll make it cheaply for you!”

Before the 90’s, the US, USSR, and China were the only 3 countries who had the industrial infrastructure to make stuff from scratch (ores, coal, petroleum, rubber) to finished products. Then USSR imploded and the US globalized. Now, China is the only one who can make 90% of all the world products from scratch to finish. It’s the most self-sufficient country in the world.

So now, if you put China under embargo again, the quality of life in China should by-and-large be ok, but it’s probably going to be a very fast way to put the brakes on 100% of global industries. The “made-in China” stuff is actually the smaller concern. I bet every industry will have at least some parts/tooling that are imported from China. Remember for a complex system with hundreds of components, it takes only one critical components missing to stop the whole production. You can replace them, but it’s going to take time, and it may require developing additional technology and industry know-how to get there. In the meantime, everything is going to grind to a halt waiting for parts.

China exports $2.3 trillions worth of products a year. 20% to the US, 20% to EU, and the rest goes to the third-world countries in every continent. There are over 100 US banks and tens of thousands of US-China joint venture companies in China. Conversely, there are tons of Chinese companies in every continent as well. A US embargo of China is frankly unthinkable, because it would hurt every single country on earth. On the other hand, when all countries work together, everybody makes money together.

The whole point of globalization is, that everyone will be dependent on each other and thus all of us will have the incentive to maintain the peace? Yeah I know…’s been a long time coming.

Greece Blinked First…

l'Histoire se répeteOh yes, everyone and their dead uncle has been commenting on Greece’s socio-economic dilemma this week, from the omni-intelligent economist Paul Kruger to billionaire Wilbur Ross and everyone in between. Since I was on vacation in beautiful downtown Charleston, I had time between morning coffee in the lobby and my beautiful wife awakening to face the day, to read up on Greece’s conundrum and the world’s follies in general.

More than 5 years ago Greece was in the news with the same topic – Being kicked out of the Eurozone for non-payment of debts. Politicians, as they always do until violence becomes unavoidable, rigged some idiotic financial constructions, put up a warning and went on their merry way.  On April 8, 2010 I made the suggestion to buy Greece with the money that came back from bailing out AIG, Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae, just about $380 billion. Of course nobody listened and the Government Zombies started kicking the cans down the street. A month later Wall Street was still riding the wave by pretending that an economy about the size of the economy of the City of Atlanta could really create an impact that would result in chaos.

A year later I wrote about a Trojan Horse called “Forlorn Hope” while European bankers and the IMF continued to hand out money to Greek banks to keep liquidity afloat for the Greek government to pay its employees and service some ridiculously entitling pension plans.

And so time turns to 2015 and once again Greece is on everyone’s lips. Failing a miserable $1.7 billion debt service payment is picked up by the media as a canary in the coal mine and blown out of proportion as if the world has reached doomsday. Pundits come up with a new word “Grexit” to portray horrible death scenarios for the Euro and the Eurozone. In the aftermath of this whirlwind idiocy, Eurozone members such as Italy, Portugal, Spain, even Ireland would probably create another acronym such as Gipsi, and attract a ton of experts to write opinions on why and how all these countries and their historic heritage will effect a Eurozone downfall.

Of course all the saber rattling from last week was just another attempt to confuse the people of Greece and possibly the rest of Europe and the world. Greek citizens did not realize what they were voting for or even recognize the short term consequences of being thrown out of the Euro, such as not having access to emergency funding to pay government workers and pensions. This is not a big deal in my book, but the country would also have to start printing its own currency again, a currency that would not have a lot of confidence initially. As a consequence they would face runaway inflation as a result of high import prices, yet ultimately they would start balancing their budgets on tremendous export opportunities and shaking off the chains of Eurozone imposed regulations. However the Greeks like the idea of the Euro as it attaches them to the modern principles of democracy. It gives them more clout for their money and it is an important political power tool.

So when they voted No last Sunday, they thought they were standing up against Germany’s demand for more austerity if they wanted to get another bail out. But here already is the first problem, Mainstreet Greece never gets the money that the IMF and other European banks have put into Greece. This money goes to overblown government structures, pension plan promises, banks and politicians. Greek businesses have not been able to borrow at favorable rates since all this crap began 7 years ago. Private individuals have not been able to attract affordable mortgages or start up capital. Yet on top of that they have been burdened financially and otherwise by the mountain of rules and regulations that come with a Eurozone membership.

Athens’ new socialist government knows it cannot move away from the rock and the hard place, so they will…. and did…. blink first, knowing that neither Germany’s Merkel nor France’s Hollande could. So Greece submitted a new austerity plan and a thousand promises and as a grateful consequence, the Eurozone will open its 2012 vault of bailout funds and kick the Greek Bankruptcy another year or two down the road.

International Fallout

It did however strike me as funny that in anticipation of the Greek induced renewed global chaos, (USA Today reports: Feds wary of Greece!) the Federal Reserve already indicated last month, that previously published interest rate hikes would possibly end up on the back burner for another cycle or two. Why getting investors and bankers nervous in America as long as the Gravy Train has a printing press in the Caboose? Especially since it also started to rumble on the other side of the globe , with China putting Shanghai’s stock market under Beijing’s control as it closed down trading on 51% of the companies in the Shanghai Composite after it lost $3.5 trillion in paper value over the past 2 months.

It was only a few weeks before that Chinese brokers were opening new accounts in record numbers. From farmers to hairdressers, everyone was itching to get a piece of the action, as the stock market soared. But the Chinese are not sophisticated stock market investors. They have only been at it for a few decades at best. So, they tend to get over-excited in both directions. Lots of moms and pops rush in, hoping to make their fortunes as speculators.

In China, there are more stock market gamblers than there are in the U.S. They often buy too high and sell too low.
So Bejing’s interference in the past week would be “normal” in the eyes of the seasoned investor, yet appalling in the eyes of about everyone else, as it fleeces the ignorants and transfers great amounts of wealth to the rich. In the 12 months leading up to the peak of the recent rally, Shanghai stocks gained about 150% and on June 12 started overheating because the real economy nowhere near reflects this rise. Result? A third drop totalling $3.5 trillion in paper wealth in a very short period of time.

Now to stop this “bleeding” the government unveiled a set of market interventions bigger than Washington’s TARP bank bailout package in the depths of the global financial crisis. Speculator/Investors tend to do dumb things in China or anywhere else in the world for that matter; and so do regulators.

In addition to cutting interest rates and reserve requirements for banks, regulators have suspended trading in a little over half of Chinese shares… eased margin requirements… ordered state-owned companies to buy back their own shares… and ordered state-owned banks to fund those buybacks.

If you do this type of heavy-handed manipulation in the private sector you may end up in jail, but as a government you can do everything you like and get away with it. N’est-ce pas? Beijing even promised investors that the Shanghai Composite will soon hit about 20% higher than where it stands today. Guaranteed, cross their heart, hope to die.

It’s the Economy Stupid

However, the trouble in China has little to do with the stock market. The trouble is in the economy. It is managed, controlled, and centrally planned. The authorities there are under increasing pressure to hold onto their power, their money, and their status.

The result: too much debt and shockingly bad investments.

And China’s feds are using every trick in the book to try to prevent an economic slump – just like in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. This has wide-ranging repercussions as China is the world’s biggest consumer of commodities and close to the world’s largest economy.
Global mining stocks have lost $143 billion – nearly 20% of their value – in the last 10 days. Crude oil prices have fallen, too. Some analysts now say oil will drop as low as $20 a barrel, acknowledging that this is also based on a nuclear deal in the making in Iran, which would open that country’s export opportunities to an already grossly over-supplied commodity.

Fact remains in this connected world, that if China goes into a recession/depression, we should expect, unlike Greece, huge effects on the rest of the world. Greece is only the selected front-line story in a global economy looking for answers on how to deal with debt. Extending annuities and lowering interest rates to the point where money has no intrinsic value, maybe a short term bandaid, but as populations age and smaller workforces need to pay for expanding numbers of retirees, economic growth as an answer to debt becomes impossible. That’s when true chaos will rear its ugly head and politicians are shackled and lined up at the guillotine.

How to Get $75,000 a Year from Uncle Sam

Takers on the Loose

Takers on the Loose

The world has always been divided into Givers and Takers. Obviously I’m talking about ideology rather than economics here, but the consequences are rapidly turning into a daily diet of violent controversy.
Last week’s chapter happened in Baltimore and while the pundits and politicians were trying to lay blame in two ideological divergent ways; one blamed society and the other blames the rioters, it should be abundantly clear that neither position is going to give a solution, if there is one this late in the game.
The angle of the Whitehouse is predictable and overused: as in we need more education, more jobs, more opportunities etc. Politician’s favorites since time began.
The other major view lays the blame legally and morally with the rioters, even though this has not produced any workable solutions since I was a rioter myself in the turbulent sixties.; heart in the right place, justice embroidered on my forehead but completely ignorant of the fact that the human race will ALWAYS adopt the Nanny State first as their direction for the future, given the choice and the chance. And by God, the choice and chance is overwhelmingly in favor of the TAKERS.

So let’s analyze who should be identified as a Taker. A taker always seeks to profit from the benefits of social programs created as political ammunition. You can “buy” my vote for a price. Takers do not just show up out of nowhere; they are paid, and often paid well, to become Takers. They often advance over many years of social programming into positions of acquired wealth and even importance. Obviously Takers are not limited to rioters and crack dealers. They include administrators, bureaucrats, housing officials, certain politicians, non-profit institutions that carry payrolls, do-gooders with public money etc. etc. I’m not saying  it’s all wrong, because it’s not. But to understand the term Takers, these are people that do not produce anything that contributes to the economy of the land. They take and consume. They are the reason that 70% of the US economy floats on consumption rather than production. But that’s a story for another time.

Here is a not-so hypothetical example of a young urban man in today’s day and age, contemplating the future. He can go and apply for a job or two, work six days a week or even seven to make ends meet, apply for a mortgage and do the old fashioned thing of proposing to a girl, raising a family and work hard to get ahead in life…

or he can follow these easy, proven 13 steps to financial well-being…

1. Don’t get married to her
2. Use his mom’s address to get mail sent to
3. Buy a house with a zero down Fanny Mae mortgage and preferential interest rates, thanks to the Federal Reserves’ zero percent policy
4. Rent out house to his girlfriend who has berthed two of his kids
5. Section 8 will pay him $900 a month for a three-bedroom home
6. Girlfriend signs up for Obamacare so he doesn’t have to pay out the butt for family insurance
7. Girlfriend gets to go to college free for being a single mother
8. Girlfriend gets $600 a month for food stamps
9. Girlfriend gets free cellphone
10. Girlfriend gets free utilities
11. He now moves into the home but still uses his mom’s house to get mail sent to
12. Girlfriend claims one kid and he claims one kid on taxes… now they both get to claim head of household at $1,800 credit
13. Girlfriend gets disability for being “bipolar” or having a “bad back” at $1,800 a month and never has to work again

This plan is perfectly legal and is being executed now by millions of people.

In contrast, a married couple with a stay-at-home mom yields $0.00 dollars.

The unmarried couple with stay-at-home mom nets roughly:
$21,600 disability +
$10,800 free housing +
$6,000 free Obamacare +
$7,200 free food +
$4,800 free utilities +
$6,000 Pell grant money to spend +
$12,000 a year in college tuition free from Pell grant +
$8,800 tax benefit for being a single mother

A whopping total of $75,000 a year in benefits.

I admit that I haven’t verified the exact details above… But I’m betting that the numbers are correct… $75,000 a year a lot of money to many people.
It’s also a (possibly partial) explanation why so many show up to riot, as they have nothing better to do.

In Baltimore one out of three residents eats at someone else’s expense; 35% get food stamps. Over 85% of the kids in school get free breakfasts and lunches at school. And more than 6 out of 10 residents get some form of government support.
Of the working-age population, more than 4 out of 10 are jobless. This number is five times the official “unemployment rate.” Which just shows how worthless the statistics are. For young black men between 20 and 24, the real unemployment rate is about 60% and in some neighborhoods it is 100%.

These are the people who went on a rampage last week – Takers bought and paid for with half a century of taxpayers’ money.
Not a pretty picture, especially not when we realize that the real big money is still not in food stamps and disability.

The big money is on Wall Street and in Northern Virginia. That’s where the Takers wear suits. More about that later.


Amelia Island Visitors Make Half-Billion Dollar Impact

Amelia Island Visitors Make Half-Billion Dollar Impact
Amelia Island visitors make half-billion dollar economic impact in 2014.

Amelia Island, FL – The Amelia Island Tourist Development Council (TDC) is reporting double-digit increases and new record high numbers for guests visiting the destination in fiscal year 2014. From October 2013 through September 2014, Amelia Island welcomed nearly 570,000 visitors, a 12.4 percent increase over 2013. The resulting economic impact of $504,673,000 is a 19.5 percent increase from the previous year. Direct spending on lodging, dining, sightseeing and other tourist activities also increased to $383,577,600, a 19.5 percent increase.

“Thanks to a lot of hard work and many favorable conditions, it’s been another great year for tourism on Amelia Island,” said Gil Langley, Managing Director of the Amelia Island TDC. “This marks the fourth consecutive year of tourism growth for Amelia, which continues to develop as one of the top island destinations in North America.”

The TDC recently released results of its 2014 Visitor Profile conducted by Research Data Services, Inc. The report showed increases in occupancy (6.3 percent), Average Daily Rate (6 percent) and Revenue per Available Room (12.6 percent) over 2013.

According to the report, the majority of visitors to Amelia Island originate in the southeastern United States and Florida, with continued growth from the northeast and Midwestern states. Most notably, foreign visitation was up by 26.9 percent in 2014, with nearly 24,000 international overnight guests.

The 2014 Visitor Profile also shows an average length of stay at 4.4 nights, with approximately 2.8 people in each party. More than 55 percent of visitors were vacationing on Amelia Island for the first time and 98 percent of all visitors were satisfied with their experience at the destination.

According to Langley, the island’s lodging partners generated more than $112 million in taxable revenue last fiscal year. Generating more than 38 percent of the total sales tax collections in Nassau County, tourism is a critical component to the economic vitality of the destination.

One in four jobs in Nassau County are supported by the tourism industry, with the Omni Amelia Island Plantation and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island being the two largest private sector employers in the county. Recent expansions and job opportunities at the two resorts have helped lower the county’s unemployment rate to 5 percent, which is lower than the state average of 6 percent, Langley added.

Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau

About Amelia Island
Northeast Florida’s coastal treasure, Amelia Island is a barrier island rich in colorful history and breath-taking natural beauty. Its long, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife and pristine waters have made the island a favorite destination for outdoor adventure. Upscale resorts with world-class spas, championship golf and exclusive dining blend effortlessly with a captivating collection of bed and breakfast inns and historic districts. The island is home to Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant Victorian seaport village and now a charming downtown district of eclectic shops, attractions and eateries.

Forget the everyday getaway; Come make memories on Amelia Island. For visitor information and online planning, visit

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Wine and Art Are Telling the Future

Silk screens that went for $82m and $70m each.

Silk screens that went for $82m and $70m each.

Signs that global warning is real are revealed by the top vineyards of the world. Signs that another financial crash is imminent are particularly revealing in the art world. And no…I’m not going to expand on potential telltale conclusions of what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri after last night’s Grand Jury decision. Even as I’m writing these observations of impending doom, I now know that today’s harsh news is tomorrow’s defiance. Austrian school economists can clarify perfectly why we’re financially doomed and Keynesian economists with Nobel Prize Awards will contradict that picture by giving more credit to happy spending consumers – Money for nothing and chicks for free! Just ride the roller coaster of life.

Vineyards and Climate Change

Important wine producers all over the world are looking into the longterm of their business and conclude that climate change may force them to relocate their vineyards 200 to 300 miles north or south of the current locations, depending on northern and southern hemisphere. Wine grapes, especially the fine ones, are finicky when it comes to heat, cold and rain. It has to be perfect, to create a great wine and the current locations around the globe see big problems in the next 20-30 years. Traditional vineyards are increasingly experiencing problems and big producers are buying vineyards in new climate zones. The Brown Brothers, one of the oldest and largest wine producers in Australia bought a vineyard 300 miles to the south of their current one on the island of Tasmania, because their current locations in Victoria are increasingly experiencing summer temperatures above 100°F. Argentinian and South African producers are also looking for alternative locations, while Oregon is becoming a more attractive alternative for California wineries. The 3 big ones in the the wine business, France, Italy and Spain are looking inside their own borders to move certain grapes such as Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot and others to test climate change impact. The Merlot grape might be doing better in the Normandy in twenty years, than in its current Bordeaux region. Agricultural production of various sorts is eying the wine industry as the proverbial Canary in the coal mine to gauge their future.

Art Insanity

Predicting the timing of a financial crash has become almost impossible since currencies have abandoned the gold standard in 1971, allowing central banks around the world to print money at their politically inspired whim, but there are telltales of excessive behavior, that can quite accurately gauge when a crash is imminent.
Contemporary art collection is one of those telltales. Collectors are insatiable and bordering on insane. Christie’s International in New York made auction once again history last week when it sold $853 million of contemporary art in two and a half hours. Christie’s beat its own $745 million record from last May , which in turn had beaten the $691 million record from last November. The Curve of Insanity continues as insiders obviously call it a very strong market.
To watch insanity unfold as people with too much money bid on crap for the sake of putting their excess money somewhere is almost criminal, but it also shows that we maybe getting closer to the edge of a reset.

Imagine Andy Warhol’s 7 foot silkscreen of a triple Elvis in a cowboy outfit (see Picture) fetching $81.9 million dollars and his “Four Marlons” (Brando) bringing in another $69.6 million and you know deep down inside that you’re looking at exploding insanity far beyond the decapitation of Louis XV in the French revolution. It’s almost like currency inflation stepping on a landmine ahead of the societal breakdown.

The auction house also reset records for artists like Ed Ruscha, Peter Doig, Georg Baselitz, Cindy Sherman and Cy Twombly. This last one completely escapes the realm of my sanity as his untitled, lasso-like cursived scribbles atop a blackboard-gray canvas sold for $70 million. Yes $70 million!!! And the winning bid came from Europe.

As always I try to find sanity in something, anything that at first seems unworldly, ungodly. So I research and found this essay on Cy Twombley the artist. After reading it I would understand a $10 million dollar bid in a competitive show off environment, but the other $60 million would still be senseless INFLATION in capitals. Let me know what you think, if anything.

So who were the bidders? American hedge-fund managers, bankers and broker/traders, European energy tycoons and bankers and Asian internet entrepreneurs raised their paddles for almost everything on the auction block— as invited guests of lesser means let out gasps of disbelief. Yup the Federal Reserves of the World’s insane monetary expansion has surely ended up in the hands of those who needed it most.

A Different Take on the Immigration Issue

The Young Ones watch Economic Opportunities from the side-lines

The Young Ones watch Economic Opportunities from the side-lines

The biggest competitors in the employment process are the young ones that graduate every year, eager to find a job of their liking and a chance to carve out a happy and satisfying life. Much more than immigrants, illegal or not, do they form a threat to the existing order.

With last week’s election turning the tables once again, Americans may think that the Democratic process was served well, without ever giving consideration to telltales that put things in perspective. Here are two telltales that should be considered of significant impact when analyzing the health of our democracy and the danger of miscalculating priorities. Nationwide only 36.4% of eligible voters turned out their preference last Tuesday. The State of Indiana broke the low record this year in a decades long slide down, with a 28% turnout while – one of the smallest states in the Union- Maine scored highest with 59%. Supposed democratic strongholds such as the heavily populated states of New York and California scored resp. a meager 29% and 32%. Florida scored above the national average with 43.1%, while in the hub of all national politicking – Washington DC – only could get 30.3% of the eligible voters interested to cast a vote.

The Telltales Behind the Numbers

One out of four voters this midterm was older than 60 while only one out of four in the age group 18 to 29 voted, two signs of special interest voting.

Yes, only about one in four 18 to 29 year olds voted in the midterms. Realizing they would get nothing out of it, 75% of young people steered clear of the polls. Young people are entering a different world from the one in which we set out, one that is still controlled to a large (too large) degree by boomers and the generation before us. And the obstacles for the younger ones are short of impenetrable.

Over the course of the past 5 decades, more and more people figured out how to use the government to get privileges and benefits they couldn’t get by themselves. Some are relatively small potatoes – such as special parking places, handicap stickers in Florida and electric wheelchairs for people who say they are crippled. Some are monster potatoes – billion-dollar security contracts, for example. Most people want to get something the easiest way possible. And the easiest way is often to pay a lobbyist to get a special deal for you… your industry… or your business, your community, your electorate.

Also typical of this attitude is that people want to protect their wages and lifestyles by imposing restrictions on new entrants. Licensing. Regulations. Professional certifications. Tons of paperwork that require expensive specialists to complete

In the largest sense this self interest protection is presented as the current Immigration struggle in the US, as they want to seal the borders so that foreigners can’t get in and compete honestly for jobs, easily forgetting that a speckle of time ago, we were all immigrants here. Human condition “dictates” that almost every industry and profession has its hustle – from import quotas, to subsidies, to labor rules. Like the trade guilds of Old Europe, they all try to keep their fees and salaries high by keeping out new competitors.” And don’t make a mistake here, the biggest and newest competitors to the marketplace here in the US are young people?

They try to enter the workforce and find doors shut. That’s why the unemployment rate among 20 to 24 year olds is twice the rate of unemployment for everyone else. In countries like Spain it’s now 50%!!!

Now push the program forward and the next economic domino piece to fall announces itself in ever growing dimensions.
“First-Timers Fade Further,” announces a real estate headline in the Wall Street Journal. Burdened with over $1 trillion in student debt… and denied access to well-paid jobs… young people can’t afford to buy “starter” houses. Would you?

Yes Europe, Japan and the US we have aging economies and are facing a similar, if culturally diversified, future.
Since 1974, the gross income earned by 25 to 34 year olds in the US, as a percentage of the median gross income, has fallen by more than one-quarter. This leaves more young people living with parents… or renting with room mates. Even supposedly successful young adults in TV sitcoms make you think that it’s a lifestyle choice rather than a financial one. Even the most enticing government incentives, like historically low interest rates to support buying, are not making a dent in this hesitation.
And this in turn affects another domino piece of much broader impact: the cultural sphere. Young adults approach life with much more reluctance, less engaged, less competitive, less likely to start new businesses… and less independent, ready to accept government largesse in the form of hand-outs, large and small, even if they come from politicians they don’t trust. That is a cultural shift that ultimately leads to anarchy as history has shown time and again.

What do they want? What do they expect?
Not only are they not rushing to buy houses, they’re also delaying marriage and when they get married they often limit the amount of children.

Good? Bad?

Only time will tell. But certainly it is different, and definitely a strain on a political ideology that is majorly based on participation and democratic process vigilance.
People vote their own interests and are far from ideologically pure. They vote for whomever makes the most convincing promises. This year it was the Conservatives with a big push from the 60 and older geezers who want free pills, a better retirement than they can afford and cheap cable TV.

Amelia Island Awarded “Best of Show” In Statewide Advertising Programs

horseback riding on the beachThe Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) won Six Flagler Awards for outstanding tourism marketing at VISIT FLORIDA’s annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The CVB took top honors in three of 15 categories, accepting coveted Henry Award trophies during the conference’s opening night Flagler Awards Ceremony held Monday night, September 22, at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida. The CVB also won a Silver Award and Bronze Award, and was furthermore honored with one of just three Best of Show Awards for its marketing efforts.

“We work diligently to maintain an effective, top-notch marketing strategy and it is gratifying to have our hard work recognized among our industry peers and partners,” said Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island CVB. “Our entire marketing team is proud to have such a great showing at the Flagler Awards this year.”

The Amelia Island CVB won Henry Awards in the Direct Marketing, Print Advertising and Mixed Media Campaign categories, and took home a Silver Award for Mobile Marketing and Bronze Award for Tourism Advocacy. The CVB’s Mixed Media Campaign entry was also honored with a Best of Show Award.
This is the CVB’s second Best of Show Award in the past three years. Additional, Flagler Awards include a Henry Award in Rural County Marketing (2013), Best of Show for the Amelia Island Visitor’s Guide (2012), and Silver Award for Special Events (2011).

As the state’s annual tourism marketing competition, the Flagler Awards recognize Florida’s travel businesses and organizations who demonstrate outstanding tourism marketing efforts. Each year, the Flagler Awards honor many of the countless individuals and organizations that help position Florida as a premier travel destination and pay tribute to the determined efforts of those who help ensure the continued success of the state’s most important industry.

In an addendum to above press release Mr. Langley noted correctly that “awards mean nothing without measurable performance“, pointing out this has been a record year for Amelia Island tourism. For the 12 month period ending July, 2014 overnight visitors were up 12.8% over the same period last year, culminating in 550,000 overnight guests.
Mr. Langley also pointed out that according to Florida TaxWatch, 88 new visitors create on average one new job. For Nassau County, this means over 200 new jobs, with one in every four private sector employees in the county working in the hospitality business now.

Overnight tourism for the mentioned period produced an economic impact of $485.3 million, while during the May-July time period, over 42% of local sales taxes were collected by tourism related businesses. This year, for the first time, over $100 million will be spent by guests on lodging alone.

Numbers that clearly justify Amelia Island’s Tourism Promotion budget moving into the ‘big spender league’ this year. “We are now part of he ‘Big Boys Club’ of destinations spending more than $1 million in advertising per year”, says Gil Langley.

For additional information about Amelia Island, please visit

The Era of Competing with Robots Has Arrived

Unstoppable Technology: A 'selfie" in the Amazon

Unstoppable Technology: A ‘selfie” in the Amazon

Okay I admit, I’m coming a bit late to the House of Cards Cable TV series, even though Kevin Spacey is honestly one of my favorite actors of all time. Spacey’s character Frank Underwood is apparently already president in the current season, but in my episodes he is still the political dog from the State of South Carolina with a far-reaching foresight, ready to manipulate everyone for his objectives.
In any case, I bought the first season from “On Demand” last week to make my hour before bedtime more enjoyable since regular network TV stinks badly in the summertime.

Last night I watched the episode in which some well intentioned loser Congressman from Pennsylvania with an addictive personality, was manipulated into pushing the closure of a shipyard with a loss of 12,000 jobs. Watching the chaos, animosity and human desperation unfold, essentially as a result of ignorance, I pondered about unions, income inequality, decent wages and the plight of the fast food workers who staged protests in more than 100 cities across the nation last week, demanding a wage hike to a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

And yes I used the word “IGNORANCE” deliberately.

It is not my intention to belittle people, but I suggest that we collectively grow up and face the future as it is going to be, not the way it used to be in “Forevermore”. Saving menial jobs for unskilled laborers is a deadend street. It’s Zombie land in my opinion and it goes to show that even the president of the United States doesn’t understand why America’s economy is structurally flawed these days, despite the so-called recovery. At a Labor Day rally in Milwaukee, Mr. President said that if he had a service-sector job and “wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union.” That is sad and the man needs to be replaced by President Frank Underwood.

Why? Gas station attendants have died out over the past 35 years, except in some unionized regions or areas catering to the super rich.
While typists in large company type pools, switchboard and telephone operators have already completely vanished, librarians, inventory controllers, train conductors, airport ticket counter workers, cashier-checkouts at department stores, letter carriers, toll collectors, book keepers, accountants, factory workers and bank tellers are just a few of the jobs on the chopping block in years to come. I could probably list another 500 professions that once put food on the table for someone and his or her family, but are now slated to become obsolete in the next ten years. Fact is that it’s not outsourcing that is creating massive unemployment; it’s advancing technology.

We talked about it 50 years ago, but few really believed it was going to happen in our lifetimes. Well here is the news for all those spinning in menial jobs that can be replaced by robots: the humanoids are here.
If a country like mainland China with a population of 1.5 billion people, many of whom earn less than $2 an hour, is starting to utilize robots in service sectors like food, manufacturing and hospitality, because it can be done cheaper, than we have to accept that $15 per hour minimum wage for a burger flipper here in the US has no future.

More robots are replacing humans in the service sector around the globe.

A restaurant in China is using more than a dozen robots to cook and deliver food, while the noodle robot can make twice as many noodles as a human chef and costs less than half the human chef.

In Russia, the pizza drone is completing unmanned pizza deliveries. In Madrid Spain self-service machines operate at a McDonald’s, 

and in the U.S., Momentum Machines announced that it has created a robot that can produce roughly 360 hamburgers in an hour.  That’s a hamburger every 10 seconds!  What’s more, the robot can slice the toppings just before serving it, creating an incredibly fresh sandwich. It will even drop your burger in a bag when it’s done preparing it, so it’s immediately ready for the customer.

Want a “custom meat grind”? Momentum Machines reports that the next generation will offer custom patties.  How about a burger that’s 1/3 beef and 2/3 bison?  The robot will be able to do that, too.

The robot isn’t enormous either. It takes up only 24 square feet — that’s smaller than the majority of assembly-line fast-food operations. Also the robot is more sanitary and consistent; they don’t need to go to the restroom or step outside for a cigarette break. These robots don’t require health insurance or a career plan. They don’t get sick, need to leave early to pick-up kids or take a vacation.

Raising wages significantly will have a ripple effect that will impact everyone and not for the better.  Prices will rise for all the goods we buy as owners cover the costs of those higher wages. And one of the quickest and potentially easiest ways for restaurant owners to save money will be to make a one-time payment (plus maintenance) to bring in a robot.

In the near future, many workers will be squeezed out of a paycheck. Unless those laid off can rely on or learn another set of skills, unemployment will increase across the country, leaving more Americans dependent on a deeply indebted government … which will only become more desperate to snatch up funds from wherever it can find money.

Attempting to artificially raise wages is never a good thing, because there’s always someone waiting to do the same job cheaper.  And this time, that someone just happens to be a robot.

We need leaders that can think and envision beyond the length of their nose and propose programs that have feasibility 20, 30 and 50 years from now. The era of competing with robots for jobs has arrived.

Shrimp Festival 2014 Economic Impact

Shrimp Festival 2014 Economic ImpactEstimated economic impact of the 2014 Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival:

Working with Research Data Services, the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau conducted 368 interviews over the three-day festival. Statistically, that number provides for a 95% confidence level in the results. For purposes of this study, they estimated total attendance at 90,000 people, which is significantly less than the official estimate of 120,000 provided by the Shrimp Festival Committee (that estimate was based on staff observation and interviews with public safety officials).

In 2014, 53.5% of the Shrimp Festival attendees classify themselves as “day trippers” from within the region, but outside of Nassau County. Nassau County residents comprise 32.8% of those who attended the festivities for the day. Of the remaining 13.7% who stayed overnight, 7% utilized commercial lodging, while the others stayed with friends and relatives.

The total direct expenditures of out-of-county visitors totaled $7,290,600. When the Amelia Island tourism multiplier is applied, total economic impact of the festival was $9,592,300. Average head of household attending the Shrimp Festival tends to be a bit older than our normal demographic at 52.8 years of age, and are more middle-class, with 60% having household incomes of less than $100,000.

When compared to the 2011 Festival (which was not weather impacted), this year’s event lured more out of county visitors by almost 11 percentage points, while Nassau County residents attending declined by 12 percentage points – a direct result of the weather. Length of stay in commercial lodging increased by a full night in 2014, while those staying with friends and relatives remain static. More couples stayed in commercial lodging, resulting in the decline of average party size from three people to 2.8. Those staying with friends and relatives increased from an average party size of two people to three, meaning more families with children.

Most significantly, the economic impact of the 2014 Festival was $1,025,400 more than the 2011 Festival – an 11% increase.

This information was provided by:
Gil Langley, CAE
President & CEO
Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau
2398 Sadler Road, Suite 200
Amelia Island, Florida 32034
Office: 904-277-4369
Fax: 904-432-8417

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Property Values Increase for Most of Nassau County

Property Values Increase for Most of Nassau CountyNassau County, FL – The Nassau County Property Appraiser’s Office recently released the 2014 estimated preliminary tax roll and the initial numbers show an increase in the tax base for the first time since 2007.

According to Property Appraiser Mike Hickox, strong sales activity during the 2013 calendar year have helped stabilize the Real Estate market by reducing inventory levels. “The strong demand and lower inventory has caused values to increase as the market has shifted from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market in some price ranges,” said Hickox. “These are all signs of an improving economy.”

Hickox presented the 2014 estimated values to the taxing authorities on May 29th so they can begin their budget process and determine the tax rate for the property owners in Nassau County.

The 2014 market value estimates increased by almost 5 percent to $9.718 billion. The market value includes all property before any exemptions, classifications, or capped assessments.

Taxable values have increased as well; however, property owners are protected by the Save Our Homes amendment which caps the amount the assessed value can increase. The 2014 cap is based on the consumer price index (CPI) of 1.5%. Non-homesteaded properties are capped at 10%.

In 2014, Nassau County’s taxable value is estimated to be about $6.45 billion, compared to a little more than $6.20 billion in 2013, or about a 3.8% increase.

The City of Fernandina could see the taxable value rise to $1.6 billion, an increase of over 4 percent.

The Town of Callahan is estimated to have an increase in their taxable value to over $69 million, up by almost 2 percent from last year.

The Town of Hilliard is expected to see an increase of almost 2 percent, bringing their taxable value to over $74 million.

The official preliminary tax roll is expected to be released to the taxing authorities and the Department of Revenue by July 1st.

For more information, please contact the Property Appraiser’s Office at (904) 491-7300.

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Why Tourism and Travel Matters to Florida

thThe Travel industry is beyond any question the lifeline and blood in Florida’s economy. From Miami and the Keys to Orlando and the Gulf Coast, to the Panhandle us up here on the First Coast, without the tens of millions of visitors every year, this state would still be a quilt of swamp land, dry savannas and sinkholes and residents would be taxed with state income tax.

In a previous article, I introduced the effect that certain industries have on our economy, not just from a domestic standpoint but from a global perspective as well. As we discovered, coffee production, as large as it is, still pales in comparison to the travel business. With billions of travel dollars generated every day, I want to share with you  some of the impact this industry has on the U.S. as well as our home state of Florida.

Here are a few facts:

♣    In 2013, tour and travel generated $2.1 trillion in economic output.
♣    Wages shared by American workers directly employed by travel was $209.5 billion.
♣    Generated tax revenue for local, state and federal governments was $133.9 billion. (Without this income, it is estimated that each U.S. household would pay more than $1000 in extra taxes and we’d definitely paying personal income tax here in Florida)
♣    Travel makes up 2.7% of the U.S. GDP – Gross Domestic Product
♣    Travel ranks No.1 among all U.S. industry exports
♣    1 out of 9 U.S. jobs depends on travel and tourism
♣    Travel ranks No.6 in terms of employment compared to other major private industry sectors

♣    Domestic and International travel to the state generated over $75 billion dollars last year.
♣    Generated tax revenue for state and local governments was over $11 billion dollars.
(These dollars help fund jobs and public programs like police, firefighters, teachers, road projects and convention centers)
♣    Employment payroll was nearly $21 billion dollars.
♣    Jobs created in 2012 – over 800,000. This represents 13 percent of the state’s total non-farm employment.
♣    For every $1 million spent by travelers to Florida, 11 jobs are created.

It is also worth mentioning that Travel is among the “Top 10” industries in 49 states and D.C. in terms of employment.

I hope this helps you to understand the enormity of the Travel industry in the U.S economy as well as the stability of Florida’s economic status. It may also help understanding the necessity for a long term travel and tourism plan on local, regional, statewide and national level, much of which is unfortunately still sorely lacking vision.

The Economic Impact of Coffee and Travel

Highest Public Platform in London

Highest Public Platform in London

I overheard a conversation about coffee the other day. The information being shared was impressive but not quite accurate. One individual was sharing with the group the effect the coffee business had on our economy. While he called it massive, fact is that travel has a much bigger impact and can indeed be considered Massive.
Granted, Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. In the United States, the average coffee drinker drinks more than three cups per day and Worldwide, more than 501 billion cups are consumed every year.

And yes coffee is important to the global economy. Some 25 million small producers depend on coffee for their livelihood. By example more than 5 million people are employed cultivating and harvesting more than 3 billion coffee plants in Brazil alone, the world’s third largest coffee producer. Growing and harvesting coffee is less automated than the sugar or cattle industries, and because it requires constant attention, it is much more labor-intensive.
Coffee is also a financial commodity. On the New York Board of Trade, coffee futures contracts are bought and sold. These contracts are financial instruments involving a the future sale or purchase of a unit of coffee at an agreed price, with contract deliveries occurring every year in March, May, July, September, and December. The world’s largest transfer point for coffee is the port of Hamburg, Germany, primarily because Europeans are the biggest consumers of coffee in the world.
Yet the global financial number pegged to coffee for this year hovers around $70 billion, which corresponds with just 3% of the US tourism receipts in 2013 (domestic and cross border).

The US Travel Department just recently released a 2013 report that backs up this claim with numbers that are so impressive that I am dedicating the next few articles to this subject.

Let’s begin with the U.S. Travel industry as a whole. In 2013, the economic output generated by Domestic and International visitors was $2.1 trillion dollars. When compared to coffee, the numbers are staggering. In 2011, according to a Bloomberg article, retail coffee sales were approximately $4.52 billion.* However, direct spending on leisure travel alone was over $500 billion. According to the 2013 U.S. Travel fact sheet, the direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.4 billion a day. That’s half of the retail coffee revenue for an entire year.

So how important is the travel business to the U.S. economy? The answer is obvious when you read the following facts from the U.S. Travel Association:

•    Travel and Tourism generated $133.9 billion in US tax revenue for 2013
(Each household would pay $1,093 more in taxes without this generated revenue)
•    Travel and Tourism is America’s largest services export industry
•    Travel and Tourism is one of America’s largest employers supporting nearly 15 million jobs, including 7.9 million directly in the travel industry and 7 million in other related industries.

As you can see, we would be in a world of hurt if we did not have the travel business in America. In fact, without travel and tourism, the coffee industry would fall short. The truth is we need every small business owner, every entrepreneur, and every traveling coffee junkie to make it all happen.

Join me next time as we analyze the massive impact of travel in the State of Florida.

Ronnie is co-owner of the American Travelers Club, a start-up Amelia Island tour company specializing in small-group European travel. You can reach him by email at

*Source: Bloomberg


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