Gas South Becomes Natural Gas Leader in Florida Commercial Market

Gas South Becomes Natural Gas Leader in Florida Commercial Market

Atlanta-based marketer acquired Infinite Energy in December 2020

ATLANTA (April 29, 2021) – Gas South, the largest retail natural gas provider in the Southeast, announced today the final stage in the transition of its Infinite Energy customers in Florida, as they officially became Gas South customers on May 1, 2021.

The transition began with the acquisition of Infinite Energy in December 2020, with the Gainesville, Fla.-based energy provider operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of Gas South since the deal was completed.

“This is a day we have been working toward since we began discussing this merger, so we are very excited for our new customers in Florida to officially be under the Gas South banner” said Kevin Greiner, Gas South’s President and CEO. “We look forward to delivering outstanding customer service across ‘The Sunshine State’ and displaying all the ways we aim to ‘Be a Fuel for Good’ in the communities we serve.”

As Infinite Energy customers officially move to Gas South, they will not experience any changes to their natural gas service, rate plan or monthly customer service fee. All existing fixed-rate plans with Infinite Energy will be honored by Gas South through the full term of the contract.

“We recognize change can be difficult, so we have been working diligently in the six months since our acquisition of Infinite Energy to ensure a smooth transition for our customers, added Greiner. “While the name at the top of the bill will change, we are confident Infinite Energy customers will seamlessly become part of the Gas South family.”

Gas South expects the acquisition to more than double its annual revenue to nearly $1 billion and expand its customer base to over 425,000 residential, commercial, industrial and wholesale customers throughout the southeastern U.S.


About Gas South:

Gas South is a leading provider of natural gas in competitive markets throughout the southeastern U.S. Following the acquisition of Infinite Energy in 2020, Gas South now serves more than 425,000 residential, business and governmental customers in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and New Jersey. Gas South offers simple and straightforward rate plans, outstanding local customer service, and a promise to give back 5% of profits to support children in need. Gas South is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cobb EMC, one of the country’s largest electric cooperatives. For more information, visit


FRLA Launches Website to Help Fill Florida’s Hospitality Jobs

FRLA Launches Website to Help Fill Florida’s Hospitality Jobs connects jobseekers with hospitality employers statewide~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced GreatFloridaJob.coma new easy-to-use website for employers and job seekers to post and find jobs across all levels of Florida’s hospitality industry.

“As the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues and visitor numbers continue to increase, FRLA is supporting the efforts of our industry members in hiring the best talent to join their teams,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “Florida’s hospitality industry provides exciting, challenging, and fun employment options with great opportunity for advancement and the establishment of a long-term career path, and we encourage all job seekers to consider returning to or joining Florida’s premier industry – hospitality.”

“The Great Florida Job campaign is another example of FRLA being in touch with the realities of the industry it represents and stepping up to create a substantive, timely solution,’ said Lisa E. Lombardo, Chief People and Culture Officer for HDG Hotels. “HDG is seeing results from participating in the Great Florida Jobs campaign. The online site for job postings is being promoted throughout the state and to diverse audiences, with all levels of experience. From job seekers’ livelihoods to the guest experience, what a great way to positively impact Florida’s tremendous, but still recovering, hospitality industry.”

According to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Florida has more than 460,000 jobs available, including tens of thousands from entry level to managerial in Florida’s hospitality industry.

Florida’s hospitality industry was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries shut down internationally, more than 934,000 of Florida’s 1.5 million hospitality employees were furloughed or laid off. As Governor DeSantis led the nation to re-open Florida and jumpstart our economic recovery, Florida’s hotels and restaurants are rebounding but still facing historic labor shortages.

To assist the industry in getting back to pre-COVID service and staffing levels and maintain Florida’s status as the number one international tourism destination, FRLA has

advocated for policies that will support industry recovery, hosted job fairs, and created a task force to help identify solutions. Visit today to get started. The resource is free to job seekers and FRLA members. Nonmembers can post job vacancies for a nominal fee of $50.

About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.


FRLA Announces New Director of Operations for RCS Training

FRLA’s training and education arm adds industry veteran

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced that Brenda Moons joins the organization as the Director of Operations for FRLA subsidiary RCS Training, Florida’s leader in regulatory compliance and professional development training for the state’s hospitality industry.

“RCS Training enjoys a well-established statewide reputation for high quality compliance and performance-enhancing training, and with this outstanding addition to our team we look forward to deepening our service to industry,” said FRLA Senior Vice President Geoff Luebkemann.

FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover added, “We are fundamentally committed to efforts that strengthen and protect our industry, and with the arrival of this proven industry veteran and leader, we will continue to do so as we move beyond the challenges of the pandemic and refocus on the excellence of Florida hospitality.”

Ms. Moons joins FRLA with over 20 years’ service at the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Institute (AHLA EI) and brings executive level experience in hospitality training product development, sales, and marketing. She successfully fostered high-level relationships with Fortune 500 companies, U.S. government agencies, and international government and educational institutions. She has overseen domestic and global sales efforts and has a wealth of experience in leading teams to monitor market demands and the competitive environment.

Moons is a native of Central Florida and alumna of Florida Southern College. She holds a certificate in interactive courseware development from the American Film Institute and is a member of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHART).


About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.



EEOC Releases Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for Employers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today posted updated and expanded technical assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing questions arising under the federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws. The EEOC also posted a new resource for job applicants and employees, explaining how federal employment discrimination laws protect workers during the pandemic. These publications are provided to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities at work during the pandemic.

The expanded technical assistance provides new information about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply when an employer offers incentives for employees to provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination when an employee gets a vaccine in the community or from the employer or its agent. The technical assistance answers COVID-19 questions only from the perspective of the EEO laws.  Other federal, state, and local laws come into play regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for employers and employees.

“The updated technical assistance released today addresses frequently asked questions concerning vaccinations in the employment context,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows.  “The EEOC will continue to clarify and update our COVID-19 technical assistance to ensure that we are providing the public with clear, easy to understand, and helpful information. We will continue to address the issues that were raised at the Commission’s recent hearing on the civil rights impact of COVID-19.”

The key updates to the technical assistance are summarized below:

  • Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.  Other laws, not in EEOC’s jurisdiction, may place additional restrictions on employers.  From an EEO perspective, employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement.
  • Federal EEO laws do not prevent or limit employers from offering incentives to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination obtained from a third party (not the employer) in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic. If employers choose to obtain vaccination information from their employees, employers must keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
  • Employers that are administering vaccines to their employees may offer incentives for employees to be vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive. Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information.
  • Employers may provide employees and their family members with information to educate them about COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination. The technical assistance highlights federal government resources available to those seeking more information about how to get vaccinated.

The new resource for job applicants and employees provides basic information about how federal employment discrimination laws help workers who are being harassed; who need extra protection against getting sick; who are not being allowed to work; or who need a modification of their employer’s COVID-19 safety requirements.

These two publications follow an EEOC hearing on April 28 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on civil rights in the workplace at which the EEOC heard from a wide range of experts. They were prepared prior to the CDC’s new guidance for fully vaccinated individuals issued on May 13, 2021, and do not specifically address that new guidance. As new developments occur, the EEOC will consider any impact they may have on EEOC’s COVID-19 technical assistance and will provide additional updates and assistance to the public as needed.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.


Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Announces Florida’s Withdrawal from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced another key step to returning more Floridians to work, following April’s labor statistics which show total private-sector employment increased by 18,800 jobs and more than 460,000 online job postings available throughout the state for job seekers. Florida will end its participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, the $300 per week supplemental FPUC payment, effective June 26, 2021, as part of DEO’s ‘Return to Work’ initiative.

Note that the additional federal Reemployment Assistance benefit programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), will continue for the time being as DEO continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends. These additional federal benefit programs are set to expire on September 6, 2021.

“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s economy has bounced back tremendously with over 460,000 jobs available throughout our state and the strongest economic conditions in the nation,” said Dane Eagle, Secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Florida’s employers are also seeing employment growth, as more Floridians, including some who completely left the workforce, are now eagerly reentering the workforce. Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.”

For the week beginning June 27, 2021, eligible Reemployment Assistance claimants will no longer receive the supplemental $300 weekly FPUC payment.

Florida has gained nearly 800,000 private-sector jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are more than 450,000 online job postings throughout the state for job seekers. Florida businesses and employers are hiring across the state and need unemployed Floridians to return to the workforce.

Hear what Florida’s business leaders and local businesses are saying about Florida ending participation in the FPUC program:

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO, Carol Dover said, “Florida’s hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though our industry is open for business, we are facing a dire labor shortage. Strong demand, coupled with this staffing shortage, has left many businesses forced to limit operating days and hours in addition to reducing capacity in both food service and lodging. Ending the supplemental $300 FPUC payment will help the industry regain pre-COVID levels. We encourage all Floridians to explore opportunities in Florida hospitality and envision a career with a future. Our industry is looking for our next generation of leaders. Visit for more details.”

Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Mark Wilson said, “The decision to end Florida’s participation in the FPUC program is essential to keeping Florida’s economic momentum going that Governor DeSantis has had such a big role in creating. Florida currently has more than 450,000 jobs available throughout the state. This single action will help fill thousands of these vacancies and aid in ending the worker shortage throughout the state.

Associated Industries of Florida Senior Vice President of Federal and State Affairs, Brewster Bevis said, “Florida’s decision to end the weekly supplemental FPUC payments will greatly help in getting Floridians to return to work. Florida is facing a labor shortage that is hurting not only small businesses but industries throughout the state that help drive our economy in a big way. It is significant that Governor DeSantis and our state are taking action, just like this one, to help our economy return to pre-pandemic levels of success and end the labor shortage.”

Florida Retail Federation President and CEO, Scott Shalley said, “We have been thankful throughout the pandemic for Governor DeSantis’ leadership, guidance, and prioritizing not only Floridians but businesses as well. On behalf of the retail businesses we serve, we are thankful for Florida’s decision to end its participation in the supplemental FPUC program. We welcome those returning to the workforce into the available jobs throughout the retail industry.”

National Federation of Independent Business in Florida Executive Director, Bill Herrle said, “We are thankful that Florida is choosing to end the federal supplemental unemployment payments in order to help alleviate Florida’s worker shortage. Finding workers has been the biggest challenge for businesses throughout the state. Removing this additional benefit will hopefully encourage Floridians to reenter the workforce and contribute towards the state’s economic success.”

Allen Turner Automotive of Pensacola Owner, Allen Turner said, “The economy in Florida is strong, hampered only by the workforce. We need to take the long view and ensure that it stays that way. I applaud our leadership here in Florida for helping all businesses.”

Altrua Global Solutions of Tallahassee CEO and Owner, Melode Smelko said, “Governor DeSantis has worked so hard throughout the pandemic supporting our business and others. Our company has been in business for more than 40 years, surviving recessions, technology changes, business shifts, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily, we struggle to find qualified employees willing to work. We are hopeful that Florida’s decision to end participation in the supplemental $300 benefit payments will encourage people to look for jobs and return to the work force. This decision will assist our company, as well as many other Florida employers, be able to fill crucial positions.”

Amazing Explorers Academy of Central Florida Co-Founder and Principal, Marcello Spinelli, said, “Amazing Explorers is a pioneer in the STEAM curriculum development, and we believe in beginning this development with infants. Science is the foundation in every career, and children need time and encouragement to explore, investigate, and learn. With the STEAM industry advancing so quickly in Florida, the early advancement for Florida’s youth is more important now than it ever has been. Currently, we have 11 locations in Central Florida, and we welcome those looking to become part of our team. Governor DeSantis has supported the advancement of the STEAM industry by providing investments throughout the state. Now it is time to do our part. Join our team, help make Florida the leading state for STEAM development.”

American Vinyl Company of Hialeah VP of Operations, Ryan Wiborg said, “Due to bonus unemployment benefits, direct stimulus payments, and other government handout programs, our company is finding it harder to retain current employees and hire new ones. Even with increased wage offers that would have previously yielded hundreds of applicants, nobody is coming through our doors looking for a job. Inflation is already here. Washington doesn’t seem to realize the mess they’ve made, but we are grateful Governor DeSantis didn’t sleep through Economics.”

Doc Ford’s of Southwest Florida and St. Petersburg Owner, Marty Harrity said, “We are always looking to expand our operations, and this past year has posed quite a challenge. We value the staff that work hard in maintaining Doc Ford’s locations in Tampa Bay and South Florida. We take pride in rewarding our employees because we want them to stay with us and make the restaurant industry a prosperous career path. Our team looks forward to expanding, embracing new team members, and operating at full capacity. With the state of Florida withdrawing from the additional $300 benefit payments, we are one step closer.”

Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. of Panama City President, Joseph D’isernia said, “We are the largest private employer in Bay County and are growing rapidly to meet the needs of our commercial and government customers. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the challenge of hiring and retaining skilled employees, so it is encouraging to see Floridians re-enter the workforce. We welcome the opportunity to have them join our team of accomplished builders of national defense and commercial vessels. This all plays a crucial role in our economy as well as improving the quality of life for individuals in our area and their families.”

El Coqui Bakery of Deltona Co-Owner, Jasmarie Rosa Hernandez, said, “Throughout the pandemic we have kept our doors open, though it has come with a steep cost. The additional fees to keep people safe and the rise of food costs have added up. It has been difficult to find employees to join our team as well. I am thankful things are going back to normal, and we look forward to growing our team and our business in the sunny days ahead.”

Metro Deli of Tallahassee Owner, Rob Bazemore said, “Metro Deli has struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we are well into our recovery, our industry is struggling to meet the public demand because of a lack of staff. Thankfully, we run a smaller operation and I have a very loyal team that steps in and covers during great times of need. I hope that ending the supplemental benefits will encourage Floridians to return to work and allow small businesses across the state the ability to hire more people and help Florida fully recover.”

Olio Restaurant of Jacksonville Owner, Greg DeSanto said, “For the past few months, business at Olio has been increasing, and hopefully on its way to returning to pre-COVID levels. Unfortunately, It’s been a real challenge to find qualified workers to fill positions in the restaurant, that let us maintain the level of service we strive to provide to our customers, many who have stuck with us through these tough times. Many restaurants and other small businesses across Jacksonville, and all of Florida, are facing these same hurdles, and it is the reason I believe today’s action of ending supplemental unemployment payments will help Floridians return to work, and businesses like ours across the state find workers that we are so desperately in need of.”

Spottswood Companies of Key West President of Spottswood Management, Robert Spottswood, Jr. said, “The hospitality industry has taken quite a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the days ahead seem to be promising. We are a family owned business built upon the foundation of tradition, passion, experience, and diligence. We believe in building better communities. With that, we look forward to adding to our company’s footprint by expanding our operations and providing jobs for more families. Governor DeSantis has been instrumental in keeping our state open for business and we need to do our part and continue operating as such.”


Pop-Up Vaccination Sites at Clearwater Beach Hotels Tomorrow

In an effort to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to frontline hospitality workers, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater (VSPC), Pinellas County Department of Health and Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) have teamed up with local hotels for pop-up vaccination sites offering free Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The effort will take place in Clearwater Beach TOMORROW, Thursday, May 20 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at four different hotels. Please see flyer below for specific hotels hosting these pop-up vaccination sites. Vaccines are available while supplies last on a first come, first serve basis. Download the flyer here to share with your employees.

The second pop-up vaccination initiative will take place next Tuesday, May 25 at St. Pete Beach/St. Pete hotels, including The Don CeSar, Sirata Beach Resort, TradeWinds Island Grand and The Vinoy. Timing is still TBD.

“Coming off the heels of a record-breaking March and April with a traditionally busy Memorial Day travel period just weeks away, it’s never been more important to ensure our frontline hospitality workers who keep the engine of the county’s No. 1 employer going are protected.” Steve Hayes, President/CEO of VSPC said.

“We are an industry that cares about our guests and employees,” Dannette Lynch, Director of Membership for Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, said. “We wanted to bring the vaccines to the employees and that’s what this opportunity provides and ultimately will help keep them safe”

“The Florida Department of Health encourages everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It is especially important for those who work in the hospitality industry in daily contact with people from around the country, and the world,” says Florida Department of Health in Pinellas Director, Dr. Ulyee Choe.

Please let us know if you’d like to speak with Steve Hayes, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater CEO & President or one of the supporting partners about the importance of this initiative.

Governor DeSantis Signs Bill Allowing To-Go Sales of Alcoholic Beverages by Restaurants

Certain alcohol sales methods allowed by the Governor’s emergency order during the pandemic will now be permanent

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 148, which authorizes restaurants, or vendors of alcoholic beverages also holding a public food service license, to sell or deliver alcoholic beverages prepared by the vendor in sealed containers. The bill extends additional sales options, commonly referenced as alcohol-to-go, that are similar to measures implemented by emergency orders of Governor DeSantis during Florida’s state of emergency related to COVID-19.

“Alcoholic drinks to-go became an important source of revenue for restaurants that were trying to survive during the pandemic,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This law is an important measure to continue the positive economic impacts of a temporary order. I want to thank the Legislature, but particularly Senator Jennifer Bradley and Representative Josie Tomkow, for being ready and willing to create common sense reforms that got government out of the way and increased opportunity for Florida businesses.”

Governor DeSantis signed the bill at Houligan’s Sports Grille, an Ormond Beach-area restaurant that relied on the allowances of the Governor’s prior emergency orders over the past year as an added source of revenue during challenges associated with the pandemic.

“Alcohol-to-go has been a lifeline to our restaurants during the pandemic,” said Senator Jennifer Bradley. “Not surprisingly, this is a popular option for customers who want the restaurant experience when ordering to-go. As we emerge from the pandemic, this option that has helped our restaurants survive financially should be permanent. Thank you to Governor DeSantis for signing this important legislation to do just that and support our hardworking restaurant industry and its customers.”

“Some of the hardest hit businesses throughout the pandemic have been our local restaurants,” said Representative Josie Tomkow. “Through the proactive leadership of Governor DeSantis and his executive order to allow the sale of alcohol-to-go, many Florida restaurants were able to increase sales and continue to keep their doors open. I’m thankful to the Governor for his support of this common-sense measure that allows for restaurants to continue to offer alcohol-to-go as an option. This pro-consumer, business-friendly bill will help support our restaurant industry and its tens of thousands of employees.”

“I applaud Governor DeSantis on signing this historic piece of legislation that will greatly benefit our bar and restaurant license holders throughout the state,” said DBPR Secretary Julie I. Brown. “The law allows businesses to meet customer needs by providing the ability and convenience of serving alcohol-to-go, and I am pleased that Florida is actively adapting to meet the evolving customer and business needs in the industry.”

Under Senate Bill 148, an eligible vendor that sells or delivers alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption must hold a public food service license, ensure the sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages is accompanied by the sale of food in the same order, and comply with sealing and packaging requirements established in the bill. The vendor, or the agent or employee of the vendor making the delivery, is also responsible for verifying and documenting valid proof of the recipient’s identity and age at the time of delivery pursuant to provisions of Florida’s Beverage Law regarding deliveries.

“Florida’s restaurants were some of the businesses hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “With indoor dining shut down, our operators had to get creative at ways to keep revenue coming in and their staff employed. Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order, many restaurants were saved from closing through their ability to sell alcohol with to-go orders for off-premises consumption. With the Governor now signing alcohol-to-go into law, our restaurants can continue to count on this source of revenue as they provide excellent meals and beverages for their customers.”

The full text of Senate Bill 148 is available here.


Sen. Rick Scott Meets with Florida Business Leaders on Need to Get Floridians Back to Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott met with Florida business leaders who have opened their businesses but are struggling to find enough workers given the enhanced unemployment benefits that are paying Americans more to stay home than go back to their jobs.

This week, Senator Scott joined his colleagues to introduce the Get Americans Back to Work Act to revise the additional unemployment benefit to $150 per week on May 31, 2021, before full repeal on June 30, 2021. This legislation follows the release of the Department of Labor report showing that the U.S. economy created only 266,000 jobs in April, well below the anticipated million-jobs increase, and unemployment rose for the first time since April 2020.

Senator Scott also wrote letters to Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Department of Labor Acting Inspector General Larry Turner asking for information on the Department’s plans to combat fraud and abuse of enhanced federal unemployment benefits and get Americans back to work.

Senator Rick Scott said, “It’s heartbreaking to hear from Florida business owners that have done everything needed to survive shutdowns and the impacts of COVID-19 and now find themselves struggling to fully reopen. What I heard from them today is what I’ve heard from countless other businesses in Florida and across the nation in recent months – they can’t compete when the federal government is paying Americans more to stay home than go back to their jobs.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have supported the effort to get targeted aid to struggling families and businesses. I fought to include a provision in the CARES Act to ensure we weren’t creating a disincentive to return to work, but the Democrats blocked it. Now we are seeing the consequences. I applaud Governors across the nation who are taking action to get their citizens back to work. While President Biden and the Democrats remain in denial about what is happening, I will keep working to support our small businesses, get Americans back to work and get our economy fully reopened.”

Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, said, “We have been fighting for more than a year to save hospitality jobs and Florida businesses and get our state on the road to recovery. We are lucky to be open in Florida, but now we face a ‘new pandemic’ – a labor crisis that is crippling the hotels, restaurants, and suppliers who have survived this last year only to face the threat of closing now. Without adequate staff and supplies, we cannot provide the memorable and unparalleled experiences our guests are used to. It is past time for our state to get back to work, and we applaud all of those who are showing up every day in our industry. There is no better time to join or return to Florida’s hospitality industry and get a great Florida job!”

Sheldon Suga, Vice President & Managing Director of Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys, said, “I commend Senator Scott for his ongoing support of Florida’s tourism industry. We still have a long road ahead of us, and we need all industry partners to come together to facilitate positive opportunities for travel and tourism.”

Lisa Lombardo, Chief People and Culture Officer, HDG Hotels, Central Florida, said, “We remain tremendously grateful for the team members who have stuck by us through the pandemic, and our focus is just as much on how to do right by them as it is finding people willing and able to step away from their unemployment benefits – a benefit that made good sense when businesses were closed, and work was unavailable. That is not our current situation; there are jobs available. To flip the switch to true recovery mode, we need to acknowledge and give credit to the many businesses who are ready to responsibly and safely bring on new talent. The message for Washington is, ‘we’re hiring, but we’re hurting.’ The labor shortage is not sustainable, and it is unconscionable that it doesn’t have to be as extreme as it is at this time.”

 John Horne, Owner/Operator of Anna Maria Oyster Bars, Bradenton and surrounding areas, said, “We can’t keep going the way we are now. I am still down 20 positions at each of my four locations, and the team members we have showing up are exhausted. Our salaried managers are even picking up shifts to help take care of our guests, but we need to get these positions filled. It’s going to take all of us, industry and government, working together to solve this hiring crisis. I really appreciate Senator Scott for sitting down with the hospitality industry to help us identify and implement solutions for the huge issue facing all industries in Florida – getting workers off unemployment and into the workforce.”

 Chef Jim Shirley, Owner of Great Southern Café, 45 Central Wine & Sushi Bar, The Meltdown on 30A, The Bay, Farm & Fire, and North Beach Social, Co-owner of Great Southern Restaurants and FRLA Board Executive Chairman, said, “Lack of staff has severely impacted every level of our business. We need front of house and back of house staff to be sure, but it is more than that. We have been unable to complete needed repairs at our buildings, and we have experienced unprecedented delivery disruptions for our food and supplies. Getting people in all industries back to work is necessary for our industry and our state to rebuild from the losses of this last year.”


New Poll Shows Florida Voters Overwhelmingly Support the Seminole Gaming Compact

“Believe Improving Florida’s Economy is State’s Top Priority”


TALLAHASSEE, FL – A new poll commissioned by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), in cooperation with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, shows that likely Florida voters overwhelmingly support the new Gaming Compact by more than 3:1, with 62 percent in favor and only 17% opposed as it nears approval by the Florida Legislature in a Special Session beginning Monday, May 17.

Recently signed by Governor Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., the new Gaming Compact is guaranteed to bring $2.5 billion in revenue sharing dollars to the State of Florida in its first five years and billions more in future years.

“The Compact will not just benefit the Seminole Tribe and Florida’s state revenue, it will bring a much-needed boost in Florida tourism – Florida’s economic engine – which recorded its lowest year in more than a decade in 2020, and it will also bring thousands of jobs for Florida’s hospitality industry,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of FRLA. “We believe that the new casino games will not conflict with Florida’s family-friendly image, which is especially important in Central Florida, as the new casino table games are limited to Seminole Reservations where casino gaming already takes place. Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry are working to rebuild after a devastating year, and we strongly support this Gaming Compact and our friends in the Seminole Tribe who have continued to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of our great state.”

Since the beginning of COVID, more than 934,000 of Florida’s 1.5 million hospitality workers were furloughed or laid off. More than 10,000 restaurants closed, and hotels have shuttered. Many hotels still remain on the brink of closure as business travel remains down more than 85 percent. The new Compact will bring jobs and provide significant economic impact to help benefit the hospitality and tourism industry as we try to rebuild and recover from 2020.

Other key findings in the poll:

  • 73 percent of respondents said they were more likely to support the Compact when they learned that profits generated by the Seminole Tribe are invested back into the state by creating thousands of jobs and billions more in economic impact;
  • Voters also indicated by more than a 2:1 margin that they were now more likely to re-elect their state legislator if he or she votes to approve the compact, with 46 percent saying it would be more likely, 20 percent less likely, and 33 percent unsure;
  • Floridians are pleased with the direction of the state with 58 percent saying it is headed in the right direction; and
  • 60 percent of the voters approve of the job Governor DeSantis is doing – his highest job approval since June 2020.

For more information about the poll and its findings, click here.


About this poll: The poll was conducted by the Tyson Group from May 1st through May 5th, N = 1,000 survey of registered voters in Florida with an additional oversample of N = 100 likely Republican primary voters. Of our N = 1,000 sample, 37% said that they were Democrats and 40% said that they were Republicans. All voters in this survey were reached by live callers on both landlines and cell phones.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Application Portal Now Open

The application portal for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened at noon today,  and we encourage all eligible and interested businesses to apply as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t in the initial priority group, it’s best to get your application in so you are in the queue. Below we have plenty of resources for you, including a step-by-step guide and the SBA hotline number dedicated for any questions should you have trouble applying.


If you have any issues registering or throughout the application process, call SBA’s dedicated RRF hotline at 1-844-279-8898.

Below you will find helpful resources from our partners at the National Restaurant Association that reflects all of the latest guidance provided by the SBA grant administrators. Also linked below is a step-by-step guide to help you apply.  For more details, visit FRLA’s webinar page here or the dedicated RRF page with the National Restaurant Association here.

Step-by-Step Guide to Apply

Updated RRF FAQ Document