Enterprise Florida President and CEO Jamal Sowell will leave the DeSantis administration this month for official military duties.
Sowell, who Gov. Ron DeSantis named to lead Enterprise Florida on his way into the Governor’s Mansion, is an officer in the Navy Reserve. In a letter sent to DeSantis Thursday, Sowell said he had received official military orders to attend specialized training.
“From November 2018 when you selected me as a transition adviser on the economy and in December 2018 when you appointed me to this role; you have proven that you understood the importance of individual liberty and free enterprise during our greatest crisis,” Sowell wrote in his letter. “You were wise, bold, and brave during a time when Florida needed it most.”
The specialized training will prepare Sowell to support operational assignments.
DeSantis also served in the Navy as a judge advocate and was a legal adviser to a SEAL team in Iraq. But Sowell, who wrote that he recalled his family’s service and sacrifice during his interview for the position, said his connection with the Governor went beyond “military brotherhood.”
“I was inspired by your vision, leadership, and courage. I am truly thankful to have worked for the greatest governor in America!” Sowell wrote.
Sowell said he is “still compelled to the call of service.”
Sowell was a Marine Corps Officer in the war in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, and achieved the rank of Captain.
The Governor’s Office said they were grateful for Sowell’s service to Florida, leading throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s economic recovery. As a veteran, DeSantis has the utmost respect for Sowell’s decision, spokesperson Christina Pushaw said.
“Today, Florida’s economy is booming, and Mr. Sowell’s contribution has been indispensable to making Florida the beacon of opportunity and prosperity for the entire country.”
Enterprise Florida operates as a public-private partnership aimed at jobs and economic development throughout the state. Sowell doubles as the agency’s President and CEO in his role as Commerce Secretary.
In his letter, Sowell celebrated 16 consecutive months of job growth after the height of shutdowns at the start of the pandemic. He also highlighted Enterprise Florida’s role in relocating or expanding companies like Boeing, Citigroup, Pfizer and UPS in the Sunshine State.
“What you did was very simple but very different from other states: you let the world know that we were open and ready for business,” Sowell said. “That alone, drew remarkable interest in Florida and Florida businesses, sparking a migration of hundreds of thousands of new residents here.”