July 2009

Marty Fiorentino doesn’t want to say President Obama’s stimulus bill is the answer to the nation’s economic woes, but it isn’t hurting business, either.

When the economy dries up, many companies look to public sources for grants and other funding, and that’s where his company, The Fiorentino Group LLC, comes in. The eight-person government relations firm helps others such as CSX Corp., Fidelity National Financial Inc. and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority understand and access funds available through local, state and national governments.

“Government has gotten so large and complex that companies have to be employed to help,” said Fiorentino, who founded the company in 2002. “People want and need that consultation.”

The latest round of government efforts to inject money into the private sector has stimulated especially high interest among clients, he said.

“They have questions like, ‘How is all this money in Washington going to trickle down to the states? What programs are available? What programs are going to be enhanced?’ ” he said. “Frankly, a lot of that is still being sorted out, and so we try to stay as abreast of that as we can.” The numbers seem to bear out Fiorentino’s claims. Between 2006 and 2008, his company’s revenue increased an average of 20.78 percent. He attributes much of the success to measured, organic growth over time.

“I think we’re going to continue growing year-over-year at a very moderate rate,” he said. “If you perform, everything else takes care of itself.”

That has been especially true over the past two years, said Vice President Joe Mobley. Clients are increasingly curious about public funding.

“They now realize that the government is kind of the leader,” he said. “It has made us of more value to them given our business model.”

But the recent changes have brought challenges of their own, Mobley said. Staffers have spent long hours with their noses in books coming to grips with the intricacies of the stimulus bill and other new measures to make money available. The result is what he considers a competitive edge in the field.

Mobley said the company has also grown in numbers to take full advantage of the increased government activity. A new employee in Tallahassee — one of a two-person team in the state capital —has made it a focus to build relationships with legislative assistants to supplement ongoing communications with legislators themselves.

Perhaps more responsible for the company’s success than anything else is its philosophy of customer service, said Tammy LeMaster, director of operations. It’s been a priority to be proactive in discerning clients’ needs, especially in tough economic times.

“We’re able to provide value to those clients by showing them new opportunities,” she said. “That’s been our biggest success in keeping what we have.”

– Ace Stryker