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On June 4, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed ABC chapters and members at ABC Legislative Day 2021 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The governor was introduced by Tim Keating, ABC’s immediate past chair of the board.

Gov. DeSantis kicked off his remarks by highlighting the successes in his state during the global pandemic, including the opening of businesses and the education system.

“We’ve had a lot of upheaval across the world and country. A lot of entities put people down, but Florida’s goal was to lift people up,” he said. “Everybody has a right to work and every business has the right to operate in Florida.”

DeSantis also talked about the importance of getting kids back to school and said that higher education programs, such as four-year universities, were not the only tickets to success.

“We’ve promoted trade, technical education and apprenticeship opportunities,” he said.  “You are still employable by taking one of these educational routes and you’ll have no debt.”

DeSantis recommended that ABC members get high school seniors into construction because people will hire them if they do the job well.

“We’ve got to focus on the workforce,” he said. “We are working with partners, communities and businesses to make sure there is not a stigma about going into skilled trades.”

Later in his speech, DeSantis said that rising gas materials prices were among the top inflationary pressures on the economy. He also discussed thriving industries in Florida, such as financial services and private aviation, and how his administration is standing by police and holding big tech monopolies accountable.

“At the end of the day, I want to err on the side of protecting people’s freedoms,” he said. “Simply subcontracting out our free speech writers to those in Silicon Valley just will not work.”

His parting words to the crowd led to a standing ovation: “You’ve got to be a leader in the climate we are in now, and you’ve got to stand strong and hold the line. You cannot let people stop you from doing what’s right.”

Gov. DeSantis was accompanied by his wife and two of his three children at the event.