Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who now heads a private investment firm based in Coral Gables, appeared before the mid-year meeting of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance on Friday and urged a halt to toxic politics in America.
Bush, a Republican who served as governor between 1999 and 2007, and who dropped out of a bitterly contested primary campaign that ended in victory for the rough-hewn President Donald J. Trump in 2016, said both major political parties are obliged to call out elected officials who use bullying and vulgarities to get ahead.
He did not name Trump. But he said the today’s political dialog on TV and social media is tough to consume.
Vulgarity, he said, may draw bigger followings on Twitter, but “that is not a strength, that’s a sign of weakness.” He said voters should “penalize” those who are vulgar and toxic.
“We have the duty to cast out the ugliness. and it’s up to the [political] parties to be able to that,” he said.
The theme is a familiar one for Bush, who made it front and center during the GOP presidential primary nearly seven years ago and has continued to promote it since he left public life.
“Let’s recognize that politics is a mirror of us,” he told an audience of more than 600 public officials and businesspeople at the Seminole hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. “It’s a byproduct of our culture …. If we want a better system we need to treat people better. We need to be honest and show courage.”
He argued that more civility would help localities, be it at the local level or the national level, such as Broward County to “the whole country” more easily achieve their goals for constituents.
His remarks drew several rounds of applause.
Bush is chair, co-founder and a managing partner of Finback Investment Partners, in Coral Gables, which holds financial stakes in nine companies in fields including education, security, private and public sector procurement and homecare assistance, according to its website. One of his sons, Jeb Bush Jr., is among the firm’s partners.
The former governor was invited to appear by Broward County Administrator Monica Cepero, who served as an advisor to Bush in Tallahassee.
Bush spoke on a day that the alliance, which is a public-private partnership designed to help grow the Broward County economy by attracting new companies to the area, announced it started its new fiscal year helping to locate companies that had invested $19.9 million in the region while generating 757 new and retained jobs.
The companies that the alliance assisted included:
- CIG Financial, a company specializing in auto lending with private, public and independent auto dealers throughout the U.S. It will employ 30 people in Fort Lauderdale.
- Funtrition, a manufacturer of gummy vitamin products, which will be creating 100 jobs, retaining 42 jobs and making a $9 million capital investment in Miramar
- ICON International, a company that provides a bartering service for companies of all sizes and industries, which will be adding 100 jobs in Fort Lauderdale
- Norse Atlantic Airways. The new airline set up its U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and will employ 15 people. The Norway-based carrier expects to begin direct flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Paris, London and Oslo later this year.
- Pherros Biosciences, a biotech company that will develop and produce novel drugs and treatments. The company will be creating 20 jobs and utilizing 25,000 square feet of space in Deerfield Beach.
- An unidentified company code-named Project Play, the maker of consumer products including plush toys, action figures, collectibles and musical instruments in Plantation. The company intends to create 150 jobs and keep 75 employees on its current payroll.
- West Marine, a national brand that operates a chain of boating supply and fishing retail stores, is locating its national headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, creating 225 jobs.
Other firms that recently announced the expansion of their presence in the Fort Lauderdale area include JP Morgan Private Bank and TD Bank. The Yacht Portfolio, a maritime investment firm that manages the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, is moving its headquarters from Miami to downtown Fort Lauderdale next year.
In addition, a Broward Executive Survey conducted by Kaufman Rossin, the CPA and advisory firm, found nearly 74% of Broward leaders who responded expect this year’s economic performance will exceed last year’s. But employee retention is the number one issue facing companies. Other employee issues, including recruiting and wages, are close behind.
The top area in which companies plan to invest in the coming year is technology, with marketing, salaries and recruitment all tied for second place in importance.