SWFL developer on reopen Florida task force exec. committee seeks measured approach

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:
Syd Kitson

It’s going to take time to get restaurants, hotels, and the rest of Florida’s economy back on its feet.

Governor Ron DeSantis is taking input from industry and business experts and one of them is right here in Southwest Florida.

Dana Young, CEO of Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, says this crisis has affected all sectors of the global economy.

Retailers, real estate and recreation are just a few big industries in Florida, all suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. DeSantis put together a task force of industry experts, and a separate executive committee to help reopen Florida — safely.

“We need to be looking forward,” DeSantis said. “We need to get people back on their feet and do it in a way that is safe.”

Syd Kitson is one of the members of the Reopen Florida Task Force Executive Committee.

He explains, “This is not a light switch. This is not something that just got turned on. This is a process … We have to be very measured, very thoughtful, almost surgical in our way that we do it.”

Kitson is also the chairman of the state university system’s board of governors and the CEO of Kitson & Partners, the developer behind Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County.

He is one of 22 business leaders or politicians on the executive committee to reopen the economy.

Kitson says the task force plans to take a fact-based approach, and follow suggestions from medical professionals before taking any action, “We won’t open up too early if the science and facts and medical professionals are telling us not to.”

Stressing this is not a time for trial and error but a shot to get Florida back in business.

“I believe there is a solution to make that work as long as we do it the right way,” Kitson added.

The industry working group of the task force will hold three conferences Wednesday morning, then share their suggestions on reopening the economy with the executive committee.

Task force members expect to be able to present a plan to the governor by Friday.

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