Governmental Affairs

Employing one of the best lobbyists in Orlando, Orange County, and the State of Florida, DBMG has the expertise to generate successful strategies to build and enhance relationships between businesses and public sector officials.

 

Amscot Financial

To do business in Central Florida, there’s no better connection than Dick Batchelor. He is the go-to person for connecting with business leaders and government officials – and their staffs – in Florida. Working with Dick saved us substantial time and money. Deveron Gibbons Vice President of Public Affairs

Amscot is a retail consumer-lending company with a very aggressive growth plan. When I was brought in, they were moving very quickly into the Central Florida market. As good stewards of their company, their leadership wanted to be proactively introduced to officials in cities and counties in which they would be locating Amscots. Because they work very closely with law enforcement, company representatives also desired an even stronger relationship with law enforcement officials.  

My job was to introduce Amscot’s leaders to decision-makers within the cities and counties, as well as other governmental leaders who were important to their agenda. This was done on an introductory basis with no real agenda, so that if there were a time in which Amscot would need to go to local governments for assistance, officials would know who they were, how much money they were investing into their communities, how many citizens were being employed, and their community-service involvement – which was very important to Amscot’s leadership.  

Not surprisingly, this strategy worked.  

Later, Amscot invested more than a million dollars to remodel a location. As they prepared to open the store, they ran into a zoning issue at the county level that would have prevented them from opening it. However, because of the relationships and credibility that had already been established, they were able to work judiciously with the county and their professional staff to resolve the issue and quickly get their certificate of occupancy. Needless to say this saved Amscot a substantial amount of money and effort. 

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ARDA

Dick was very instrumental in my early days as the Chairman of ARDA Florida in guiding us as we successfully presented and passed a comprehensive regulatory solution which later became a model for the country. His work for the vacation ownership industry was critical to our success in Florida. Dick is a very experienced and highly regarded professional by all that know him. Rip Gellein Chairman, ARDA

The American Resort and Development Association is a consortium of vacation ownership developers, including Disney Vacation Ownership, Marriott Vacation Ownership, Hilton Grand Vacations, Resorts Condominiums International, Interval International, Starwood, Wyndham, and others. I represented them for almost 20 years as a public relations and governmental affairs consultant, helping the industry identify legislation that was good for their customers and for them. In this capacity, I gave ongoing direction to the lobbying team in Tallahassee and helped secure favorable language in a major federal tax bill for the vacation ownership industry in Washington.

With the Association’s planning group, I also advised on strategic legislative matters and helped focus public relations and all outreach to alliance groups necessary to the ARDA’s agenda. 

More importantly, however, I consulted with them on the public relations aspect, helping them to communicate the industry’s incredible story of transformation to the general public. My job was to communicate to elected officials and the public that timeshares had substantially changed – from what was then the less-than-respected timeshare industry to what had become a very well recognized, formidable, and successful vacation ownership industry. That was quite a daunting challenge.  

One of the things I suggested was that we hire an economist to do reports on the fiscal and economic impact of the industry in Florida, demonstrating the amount of taxes being paid by the industry, the number of employees, and the customers’ level of satisfaction with the product. Working with the media, we then took these reports and scheduled a press conference with the Secretary of the Department of Commerce, accentuating how far the industry had come from its not-very-well-respected roots to what had in fact become very different, a respectable and vital component of the economy with very major and reputable companies involved. 

Through these reports, we also found out that the vacation ownership industry, as a whole, pays more in taxes than it takes out.  

With these fiscal impact studies demonstrating the importance of the industry, we were then able to say to policymakers, “If you’re going to pass legislation, let’s make sure that it’s not inadvertently counterproductive…because you really have a new, growing, substantial interest that employs a lot of people, has a lot of satisfied customers, and pays a tremendous amount of taxes.”  

This strategy was very successful in helping my client for many, many years

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Rural/Metro Corporation

Having Dick Batchelor as part of our team, with his knowledge and expertise, has positioned Rural/Metro as the leading private ambulance provider of medical transportation in Central Florida. Christopher Blach Division General Manager, Rural/Metro Corporation

Rural/Metro is an emergency medical transport company that has a longstanding relationship with the City of Orlando. I was brought in to work on extending the contract and the working relationship, helping them to not only extend the 27-year-old contract with the City, but also to extend a contract with one of the local hospitals and secure additional contracts with other local governments such as Sumter County.

This case illustrates the importance of working successfully with the media, in addition to the private parties involved, because the extension of a contract such as this is always controversial. For one, we needed to cultivate a productive working relationship with the fire and rescue unions, as well as with the City itself. Second, there were other large companies that would have liked to have had the contract (and business) that we were pursuing. It’s like a chess game, balancing these oftentimes-competing interests.

But that’s why understanding and properly harnessing press involvement can be so crucial. Issues of this magnitude draw scrutiny from the media, and rightfully so. Frankly, this kind of openness – forcing the issue into the public domain via the press – is healthy for the process, because it opens it up. More importantly in this case, however, the broadcast media coverage (in addition to the print media) created a sharper focus on the issue, which benefited the client tremendously.

Through our collaboration with the media, under extraordinarily adverse circumstances, Rural/Metro was ultimately awarded the contract extension with the City of Orlando.

Later, a local hospital made the decision to no longer provide emergency medical service transports in response to 911 calls, which meant that the residents of three nearby cities were no longer being served by the hospital. With very little time, it was urgent that those services be replaced by another provider. Because of the prior relationships I had with these cities, I was able to help Rural/Metro win unanimous votes from the city councils in Windermere, Ocoee, and Winter Garden – in only five weeks – to replace the hospital’s EMS transports with Rural/Metro’s – further expanding the client’s service areas and bringing in substantial additional revenues.

Additionally, we implemented a successful strategy to hire the displaced EMS transport employees from the hospital and to acquire the hospital’s transport equipment. All in all, this demonstrates not only the nature of the work that can be done, but also the expedited time frame in which time-sensitive work can be completed – with the right consultant.

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Court Programs/SecureAlert

Since 2006 Mr. Batchelor has been an integral part of our efforts to provide advanced offender monitoring programs to the Criminal Justice Community throughout Orange County, Florida. Mr. Batchelor’s efforts have resulted in the initiation of many proactive programs being utilized to improve public safety and accountability to the Courts for offender management. David Rothbart CEO, Court Programs, Inc.

Court Programs/Secure Alert is a company that provides GPS monitoring devices to defendants in the court system. I was hired to help them establish stronger relationships with law enforcement, corrections, and the judiciary. This involved setting up meetings with a number of judges, including the chief judge, and working to secure judicial orders addressing ways in which the program could work in the interest of both the court and my client.

Working primarily with the judiciary, I helped them to understand that GPS monitoring, in lieu of secure detention, is an additional cost-effective option the judges can have.

Additionally, I helped the client understand the public policy implications of GPS monitoring. Doing so helped them to communicate the importance of their program to other governmental bodies, such as the Orange County Commission. The message was simple and effective: with GPS monitoring as one more arrow in the quiver of the judiciary, defendants in the court system can now be monitored at substantially less cost to the taxpayers.

In working with the Orange County Department of Corrections, I also helped Court Programs ensure there would be a specific place in the County Jail where the devices could be secured on a defendant before they are released. Unfortunately, it used to be such that the Court Programs employee would have to cross a six-lane highway to get defendants (some of whom had very serious, sometimes violent charges) and walk them back across the six lanes of traffic to their office before they could secure the monitoring device to the defendant.

Working with Orange County Corrections, I helped them understand the security risks that were involved. With my help, they then gave Court Programs a space in the jail where the GPS monitoring device could be secured to defendants before they are actually released – closing a dangerous loophole and keeping them under continuous supervision.

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