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Conversations with the Council featuring Scott Hawkins, Chairman at Jones Foster

"I believe it is critical that the private sector have a balanced and strategic voice in the county's future development." That is just one of the reasons Scott Hawkins was interested in joining the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. "The mission of the Economic Council really interests me, and I have been deeply impressed by those who have led the council. Further, I believe Palm Beach County is a bellwether county, one of the most crucial in the state, and, in turn, Florida is one of the most important states in the country. Accordingly, in some respects, what happens here will be a leading indicator of what could happen downstream in other parts of Florida and the country."

Scott is a very active member, having served as the Chair of the Governance, Policy, and, currently, the Political Action Committee. "We're interested in educating candidates and office holders of the council's mission with a view toward promoting policies that affect the needs of the business community." One of those needs, he says, is our public schools. "Our school system is vital to our county as a destination for businesses wanting to move here. Think of all the different languages spoken. Teachers are trying to teach, and it's an immense burden on our public school system. I'd like to see it be made as strong as it could be."

Education is important to Scott and has played a pivotal role in his life. He earned his bachelor's (with Honors), and juris doctorate from the University of Florida and his MBA from the University of Edinburgh (UK) where he studied as an International Rotary Foundation Scholar. He is a proud Gator, having served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the College of Law and Chair of the University's Foundation. The school also holds a place close to his heart. "I met my wife, Lisa, while at the University of Florida. We have been married for forty-one years. We have one daughter Allison who works as Director of Development at the University of Virginia Fralin Art Museum."

As Vice-Chair at Jones Foster, Scott is a corporate and commercial litigator (Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Business Litigation since 2005), leading with a collaborative approach. "I hope to maintain an open mind and to listen carefully to all views. Further, I endeavor to delegate responsibilities to others and to empower others who have earned my trust." His professional achievements are impressive. He's a Past-President of The Florida Bar, has numerous honors and distinctions, and in 2015 his article for The University of Florida Law Review was cited by the United States Supreme Court.

Scott says his membership with the council has helped him professionally as well. "It is hugely beneficial to regularly hear policy debate on critical issues facing the county. I invariably gain insights from such discussions. This helps with growth trends. It's just very beneficial when people are debating the current pressures in the county and future growth. It's useful to understand what's happening at the county commission level, so it's interesting to hear discussions about those things. I'm interested in those things."

The most critical policy issues facing the business community are managing infrastructure growth and affordable housing, he says, while also maintaining a high quality of life. "At Jones Foster, we have people that drive from Port St. Lucie to work here, and they're spending two hours a day driving to come to work. We need to do more for workforce housing. It's hard to find housing, particularly for people starting out. I'm hopeful there will be an improvement in the housing mix. We have a strong, diverse economy, and we need people to work in it to make it work, and a lot of folks are challenged to find affordable housing."

However, he is optimistic about the business climate over the next ten years. "We are strategically placed on what I call the growth continuum where we can influence development patterns and infrastructure growth to accommodate an increasing population. We're going through an upward growth trend right now. I see a unique opportunity for Palm Beach County to develop a reputation for a core strength in legal, real estate, and financial services. Further, I think Palm Beach County's agricultural sector could grow in national importance."

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