Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, chaired by Sen. Marco Rubio, on Friday, Oct. 4 in Marathon.
In addition to Gastesi, Monroe County Tourist Development Council Director of Marketing Stacey Mitchell, and World Angling, Inc CEO Will Benson also addressed Rubio on Florida’s Coastal Economy: Opportunities and Challenges in the Florida Keys. Monroe County Commissioners Michelle Coldiron and Heather Carruthers were in attendance with Monroe County Legislative Affairs Director Lisa Tennyson.
The panelists examined the unique opportunities and challenges facing Florida’s coastal economy and small businesses in the Florida Keys. While the Florida Keys have a rich history of fishing, diving, and tourism, the chain also faces many challenges given its proximity to the mainland and vulnerabilities to hurricanes. The hearing also included the impact environmental challenges have on local businesses, fishing, and tourism.
Gastesi explained the County’s progressive stance on sea-level rise, pushed for the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Policy, and discussed the need to protect the ecosystem since the County is reliant on its tourist-based economy. He also answered Rubio’s questions regarding the cost of living the Florida Keys and affordable housing.
“As you can see, Monroe County faces significant challenges as a coastal community, and is actively investing in strategies to adapt and mitigate against future coastal risks,” said Gastesi. “The County is profoundly mindful of its obligation to not only protect its people and property but to ensure financial resilience and disaster recovery capability.