Former state House Speaker Larry Cretul is back in business.

Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:00 a.m.

OCALA — It didn't take long for former Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul to get back in the game.

Cretul announced Wednesday that he will become director of the Board of Governors for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

His new role in helping shape the legislative agenda of the state's leading business group took effect Wednesday.

The Board of Governors is an advisory panel comprised of people from the chamber's different committees, councils and its Board of Directors.

Cretul will fill a long-vacant post that has been revitalized as part of the group's five-year strategic realignment plan to intensify its advocacy efforts, according to chamber staffers. They would not divulge his salary.

Bringing back the position coincides with the chamber's "Six Pillars of Florida's Future Economy" program — a $1 million-plus effort to draw attention to Florida's need to develop a highly skilled and educated work force; promote innovation; improve physical infrastructure; make the state more "business friendly;" promote the health of civic and governmental systems; and preserve and enhance quality of life.

While his new job, which is a paid position, does involve crafting the chamber's political pursuits, Cretul emphasized that he is not a lobbyist.

State law bars elected or appointed state officials from lobbying the agencies they served in for at least two years.

"My work is going to be more devoted in the area of the legislative process," Cretul said. "As for going to see [new Speaker Dean] Cannon or [Senate President Mike] Haridopolos, that ain't gonna happen. I don't think any of us wants to go to jail."

Cretul said lobbying efforts would still be directed primarily by Mark Wilson, the organization's president and CEO. But, Cretul added, the law does not prevent him from talking to the executive-branch agencies.

Cretul, who left the Legislature last month because of term limits, described his new role as helping craft the chamber's legislative priorities and then working with the group's membership to ensure they are on board to advance them.

More specifically, the business group has made regulatory reform, legal reform and property insurance reform its main goals.

"I had other opportunities, but I felt I could add value to this organization and advocate for this organization and feel comfortable," Cretul said. "It's cool and I'm pumped."

"Larry Cretul is the epitome of small business owners throughout Florida," Allan Bense, chairman of the chamber's Board of Directors and himself a former House speaker, said in a press release issued by the chamber.

Wilson, in the statement, added, "As we work to move Florida toward a new and sustainable economy, we are pleased Larry will be a part of our strategy and the chamber's overall plan to put Floridians back to work."

Cretul, an Ocala Republican who was first elected to represent District 22 in 2002, said the job won't require him to move to Tallahassee.

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