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Holly Bell, Florida’s first director of cannabis, is focused on leading the state’s new medical marijuana and hemp programs.
More than two dozen people applied for the position, however, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services commissioner Nikki Fried said Bell was the person “to get it right” on implementing a state hemp program. For the past year, the former banker has been developing the program from the ground up, from growing to processing and manufacturing.
Tune in to hear her conversation with SalterMitchell PR President Heidi Otway as they discuss how Florida is positioned to be a leader in the cannabis industry and the unlimited opportunities to facilitate job creation and economic development statewide.
Chris Cate: Welcome to the Fluent in Floridian podcast featuring the Sunshine State’s brightest leaders talking about the issues most important to the people of Florida and its millions of weekly visitors. In this episode created by Salter Mitchell PR, our Executive Producer, Heidi Otway, the President of Salter Mitchell PR, talks to Florida’s first Director of Cannabis, Holly Bell.
Heidi Otway: Holly, thank you so much for being a guest on the Fluent in Floridian podcast. We’re so thrilled to have you today.
Holly Bell: You’re welcome. Glad to be here.
Heidi Otway: Great. Agricultural Commissioner, Nikki Fried, interviewed about two dozen people to be Florida’s first Director of Cannabis, and she said you were the best person to get it right when implementing a state hemp program. You worked in the cannabis industry before you came to Florida. Tell us how that prepared you for the role that you have now.
Holly Bell: Interesting question because when I initially talked to her about coming down and working on our team, the discussion of this job really wasn’t what we talked about. I just told her I’d love to come down and help her and work with her. So when she called to interview me for this specific job, we laughed a lot. And I told my family and my husband and they all laughed a lot. So it wasn’t-
Heidi Otway: What made them laugh?
Holly Bell: I’ve got a 29-year-old daughter, and “My middle-aged mother is going to be the Director of Cannabis? Wow, that’s, that’s funny.”
Heidi Otway: Okay.
Holly Bell: And my husband just thought it was funny too because my real career’s been in banking, and I developed a niche in banking and that was the entertainment industry, which can tend to be very complex. It’s really those skill sets that helped me be prepared for this job. In the banking world, the one thing that I was known for is creating new things for CEOs, directors. What would happen is they would bring me in and say, “Holly, we have this vision. Here’s what we want to do. Here’s what I’m thinking. Go create a business plan and then bring it back. We’ll get board approval, then you go execute it and build it like we want.” Okay, I’ve done that four times. That’s really what I’m doing here. So it’s that skillset in those projects that have helped me be able to come here and create this hemp program for the commissioner.
Holly Bell: I did get exposed to cannabis through those projects because I distinctly remember about four years ago, it could’ve been five, sitting in an attorney’s office for a client update meeting. And they were talking about, “You know what we’re going to do? We are going to take these clients and we’re going to brand them with the cannabis industry.” And I thought, Oh okay, well yeah, I guess that might work. We talked about a few things, and “Okay, I’ll see how that works.” Then I retired from banking about three years ago and I started consulting full-time in the cannabis industry. And I’m out in Colorado thinking I should go into a dispensary, do some product shopping, market surveying… you know, what does this look like? So I went in and I asked the young bud-tender, because that’s what they call them.
Heidi Otway: The bud-tender.
Holly Bell: “What’s your best selling product? What do you sell the most of?” “That one right there.” And guess what it was.
Heidi Otway: Hemp.
Holly Bell: No. It was the product that I branded with the client we talked about previously.
Heidi Otway: Wow.
Holly Bell: So I saw full circle how it really worked and where I thought the industry was going. So all of those things have really helped me come down here to Florida and help the state of Florida.
Heidi Otway: So, in the bigger picture, looking ahead, you’ve been in the position now for how long?
Holly Bell: Since February 4th.
Heidi Otway: Okay, so newly created position. Where are we going? Where’s Florida going with cannabis hemp? Tell me about that.
Holly Bell: So where I see us going, and the commissioner also is leading the country first and then leading the world. We have an extraordinary amount of resources here in Florida that can help us do that. A couple things. When I first came here, I drove. So I would call my husband and say, “I forget how much agriculture’s in this state,” because when you just come here to visit, you probably go to the beach and his comment-
Heidi Otway: Right, or a theme park.
Holly Bell: … or a theme park.
Heidi Otway: Yeah.
Holly Bell: Right. So his comment was Florida’s a big farm with a beach around it and-
Heidi Otway: That’s a good way to describe us.
Holly Bell: Yeah. So that got me even more excited and looking into a lot of details and statistics, and I realized we have specialty crop growers here and growing this crop really takes someone with some specialty expertise. We have the growers, the farmers. We have the land. We have the infrastructure and the fields are set up. We have nurseries to start the seedlings. We have a great distribution system here in Florida. We have great weather. We have great research. We have great manufacturing processing, labor. So, with all of those combined and put together, that’s what’s going to make us a leader in the country and then the world.
Heidi Otway: So what other states are actually doing hemp production right now?
Holly Bell: There are a lot of them, and with the farm bill that passed in the last week of 2018, there are forties… There are only three that are not doing a state hemp program right now. So the leaders in the ones that got out there first and really got going, Kentucky, Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, those states are really leading the charge and have been for several years. I came from Tennessee in February. We had had a program for about two years there, was really getting up and getting going, and now they are also one of the leaders out there.
Heidi Otway: So are you looking at those states for, “Okay, here are the pitfalls that Florida needs to avoid,” or are you focused on creating something that’s very unique to Florida?
Holly Bell: A little of both. I’m the first one to say I don’t always have the best ideas. I’ll admit that. Why recreate the wheel? So the best advice I got was from my father-in-law. I’ve never worked in government before, so I was a little apprehensive and nervous. So I went and got advice from my mentors, which I always do. He would be one of them, and having worked in government and being a lawyer, he said, “Here’s what you do. You go out and you ask every other state that’s doing it. What’s the best thing you’ve done? What’s the worst thing you’ve done? What problems came up? What did you not see coming you wish you would’ve? What do you wish you would’ve done more of?” And start to put together a database and a spreadsheet and then take their best ideas and learn from their mistakes and help develop your program.”
Holly Bell: So we did that. I have a great team that I work with to develop this program. We called as many states as we could, asked as many questions as we could and put that together, and we’ve used that as kind of a guidepost to help develop our program.
Heidi Otway: I’d be curious to know, based on your research here, what were some of the major hurdles that these other states experience that you are working to make sure Florida doesn’t have that same pattern and actually succeeds, avoids the hurdle.
Holly Bell: Yeah. It’s a great question, and we’re seeing some of that in the press right now with some farmers that are going to lose their crop in the field because they don’t have a processor. They don’t have a place to buy it, sell it. So one of the things that I’ve been very aware of is 1. not only have to teach people and help them learn how to grow it, but at the same time we’ve got to be working on economic development and infrastructure. So, with that, I have to also be working on getting processors here, getting people that’ll manufacture it, distribute it, retail it. We have to have all that being developed at the same time I’m focusing on growing it. It’s not just about growing it and they’ll come. You got to build the other parts out too.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. It almost sounds like you’re building the plane and flying it at the same time.
Holly Bell: There are days, but yeah, I think that could be true, very much so.
Heidi Otway: What are the next big steps that you need to accomplish to get Florida in that position where the farmers are doing what they need to do to get hemp out there? I look at the headlines and they’re like, “Hemp is the next big industry for Florida’s economy.” So what are the next big steps you need to take so that we could position ourselves to be a leader in cannabis and the hemp industry?
Holly Bell: So first, we got to get our rules finished, and we’re very close to that. Program will be up and running at the end of the year. So what I will be doing is focusing on a lot of education, a lot of speaking, which I’m out there doing now, and developing a team that goes out and does that. An outreach to all the communities, a lot of that educate, educate, educate and economic development. How I do that is really, as the regulator, my job is to create a platform that will allow everybody to create an economy or a business out of it. But at the same time, I’ve got to get them all talking to each other. So the best way I’ve found to do that is to go out and speak, help promote conferences, associations, and help start getting the communities together so they’ll be talking.
Holly Bell: And when nothing better, I was just down in Citrus County talking to 50 people at an AG Alliance meeting and an IFAS location, and they just had all kinds of interests, all different parts of the business cycle in hemp. They asked me the same question, and I said, “Here’s how we start. We’re all in a room. We all now know what each other is doing. We’re all going to start talking, and that’s how we create a business and that’s how we get it moving.”
Heidi Otway: Yeah. I recently heard you speak at a conference and it was packed, standing room only, to hear you talk about this role, your role, and this new burgeoning industry in the state of Florida, and it was very well received. I can imagine that we have listeners who are wondering, well, how do I get involved in this? How do I get in this industry? How do I find a way to take advantage of this new opportunity? What should they do? What’s their first best step? And I’m sure you’re getting phone calls and emails and text messages-
Holly Bell: On a daily basis.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. So what’s the first best step for someone who’s listening and they say, “Hey, I want to learn more. I want to get involved.”
Holly Bell: I think the first thing to do is to look at yourself and your situation and say, “What kind of thing would I like to do? Do I want to sell it? What part of the industry do I fit in?” Knowing what your skill sets are.” Then go out on the internet… And YouTube’s a beautiful thing. You can learn anything on YouTube.
Heidi Otway: You sure can. Yeah.
Holly Bell: So YouTube it and start to watch videos. Start to look at information, educate yourself, read some books about it. Then reach out to us at FDACS. We can put you in touch with the three hemp associations, start networking in those associations, and at that point you’re going to find your niche. You’re going to find where you fit in and you can start your business or start working in the industry, and it’s going to be different for everybody. There’s a seat at the table for everybody is what I tell them in this program.
Holly Bell: One of the other questions I get on a routine basis is, “Oh, this is just a bubble. It’s CBD. It’s not going to be around forever.” Not so much. If this Ag crop only had one use, I would say yes. But because it has thousands of uses, I don’t see that happening. Does the infrastructure need to be built out so that it can continue on for years? Yes, and we’re working on that. The CBD infrastructure’s there, it’s the first level. Then the fiber and the seed side will be the next, and it’s coming. I see those people with interest coming into our state now.
Holly Bell: Literally, when I get up in the morning, I always think this, I look around my room and what I’m doing and I think, what could be made from hemp? My shampoo, my face cream, my makeup, my toilet paper, my towels, my clothes. I have on hemp pants today. My hairspray, my body lotion, the wallpaper, the drywall. I could have a Hempcrete house. I could be driving a car made from hemp plastics. I could be drinking out of a hemp cup. I can go on and on for thousands and thousands of uses.
Holly Bell: It is such a diverse ag commodity. Years ago, when the first people came over to America, they actually required them to grow it and bring seeds. We just took it out of our economy for a while for various reasons, but now that we’re adding it back in, I see a lot of things changing. I actually see it being very helpful to the environment.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. Earlier you mentioned the rules, we’re in the rules making process. Can you talk a little bit about that? And then I want to do a followup more on the different types of uses for hemp. So can we start with the rules? Tell me where we are with the rules and what does that look like and what does that mean.
Holly Bell: Sure. We got Senate Bill 1020 on May 3rd, and the governor signed it the last week of June. It became law on July 1st. So I consider the bill the outline or the agenda of the program. Then FDACS was tasked with being the regulatory body and writing the rules. The rules are the who, what, why, when, how, where the program’s going to work and how we’re going to regulate it. So we posted our final proposed rules on October 10th on the Florida Administrative Registry or they call it FAR, and they needed to stay out there 21 days for public comment and JAPC, the internal group, to review. And then somebody, if they wanted to have challenged our rules, they could have then. We came off of that 21 days at midnight on October 31st with no challenges and send-
Heidi Otway: Congratulations.
Holly Bell: Thank you.
Heidi Otway: That’s great.
Holly Bell: I did this until midnight hit that night, woke up the next morning like, “Yes!” One of the reasons I feel like I was successful is I work with an amazing group, and we’ve tried to be incredibly transparent and cooperative with the public, holding numerous public meetings to make explanations for them. One of the things that I realized during this whole process is that old program, Schoolhouse Rock: How a Bill Becomes a Bill, should probably be put back on TV and/or made a podcast. We started explaining a lot of peak to a lot of people about how the process works and that really helped. People were very happy we took the time to do that.
Holly Bell: So we are ready to adopt rules at this point, and we’re working through that very diligent process and it is very specific. So by the end of the year we will have our rules adopted and be ready to officially start taking applications for permits of all kinds and officially start regulating the program.
Heidi Otway: Okay. So in Florida right now, I know there was some talk about the areas that were hardest hit by Hurricane Michael up here in the North Florida area. The timber industry is reeling and a lot of other industries, and they’re looking to hemp as a new crop for them. So now that the rules have been approved and we’re getting ready to go into implementation, how does that translate into farmers actually starting to grow the product?
Holly Bell: At the end of the year, they’ll be able to start applying for a grow permit, and they should be able to get their first crop in the ground in 2020, now weather permitting. Of course, here in the northern part will probably be more towards the spring. In the south, they’ll be able to start right away. So the growth cycle for the plant is three to four months, and there’s some talk that even in the north part we can get to growth cycles per year out of the plant.
Heidi Otway: I go back to my analogy of building the plane and flying it at the same time. So they’re growing it, you’re regulating it. But then once the crop comes up, they have to be able to harvest it and then sell it. Is that right?
Holly Bell: Right.
Heidi Otway: And so you’re figuring out how to bring in the folks who want to buy.
Holly Bell: Correct.
Heidi Otway: … and helping the farmers because this is a whole new industry.
Holly Bell: Correct. So at the same time I have interest in cultivation or growing farming. I also have people approaching us with interest in processing it, which would be the next step after they take it out of the field, dry it or freeze it. Then they run it through an extractor and process it. I have numerous people looking at locations throughout the state for that on the CBD side and on the fibrous side, the tall fibrous hemp that you can grow, so probably have 10 to 12 people actively looking at that right now. And I’m sure all of them won’t follow through, but I do believe at that number I will have a significant amount of them follow through.
Holly Bell: Then I have several manufacturers that have come and talked to me about the regulations, so I know that they’re looking at them. Several of those down in the south part are already existing facilities that are just going to read divert or divert some of their facility to manufacturing for hemp. So they’re already ready to go, and there’s four, five of those. So I feel like the infrastructure is starting, and we actually have several very successful companies here in Florida that were manufacturing outside the state because we didn’t have a law-
Heidi Otway: They were manufacturing hemp?
Holly Bell: Yes.
Heidi Otway: Outside.
Holly Bell: Hemp products.
Heidi Otway: Okay.
Holly Bell: And they’re huge companies and now they’re bringing that back home.
Heidi Otway: Okay. So these are medical marijuana?
Holly Bell: No.
Heidi Otway: No?
Holly Bell: These are hemp companies only-
Heidi Otway: Hemp companies only.
Holly Bell: … and they’re doing topicals, they’re doing tinctures-
Heidi Otway: But they did it out of Florida.
Holly Bell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because we didn’t have a law, and they were doing it in Kentucky, Vermont-
Heidi Otway: Right, in those other states.
Holly Bell: … Pennsylvania, other states, Washington, Colorado. Now that business and those tax dollars, those jobs are coming back to Florida.
Heidi Otway: That is amazing. That’s why I’m seeing all these headlines about the next big business. So what are some of the misconceptions about hemp versus medical marijuana? What’s the distinction here?
Holly Bell: I start with this. In the farm bill, it did one important thing everybody should understand. It redefined the cannabis, sativa plant into two varieties. One, we now call industrial hemp. So the cannabis plant has over a hundred cannabinoids in it. Those are different compounds that do different things when ingested or rubbed on your body or made into other products. There is one called THC Delta 9. That’s the one that everybody thinks of when you get high; it will cause that effect. The amount of THC Delta 9 it takes to have that effect is fairly significant. It has to be probably somewhere over 5%.
Holly Bell: What they did with the farm bill was they defined industrial hemp having a THC Delta 9 of 0.3 or less. So what that means is you can’t get high anymore off of it and they made it an ag crop, pulling it off the controlled substance list so it’s no longer federally illegal, which allows for interstate commerce. They left the high THC cannabis on the controlled substance list; that’s what you refer to medical marijuana. So that allowed the states to create their own programs, which we then did here in Florida.
Holly Bell: The difference is you really need to see industrial hemp as an ag commodity because of all the uses that it can have-
Heidi Otway: You just named about half a dozen earlier in the conversation.
Holly Bell: For years, we’ve been told cannabis is bad, it’s going to do bad things to you. I’m not sure I totally believe all of that. I think anything in excess in life is not a good thing. Moderation is good in everything.
Heidi Otway: I agree with that.
Holly Bell: So one of the things that I have noticed is there’s a lot of scientific data outside the United States that with the farm bill passing I now start to see trickling into the United States, especially on the industrial hemp side and all the products that we can make from it. So the thing I’d like to tell listeners is, it’s not illegal. It’s not bad. It’s not going to cause any high effect. It is simply an ag commodity that could be used in so many different ways that is also environmentally friendly.
Heidi Otway: I travel all over the state of Florida and I see CBD oil. I mean, I’m seeing it in the grocery store. I see it at the gas station. I see it in Bed, Bath and Beyond. Right? So what happens with our new rules and regulations? Will that change what we’re seeing in the marketplace with the current CBD oil that’s everywhere?
Holly Bell: Yeah, it is everywhere, isn’t it? I can’t go anywhere without seeing it.
Heidi Otway: Everywhere, yeah.
Holly Bell: I tell people the genie got out of the bottle before we got down here. With the farm bill passing, it was like, “Woop, there it goes.” The commissioners had been very vocal about protecting consumers and we do have that group under us. So the biggest thing you’ll see is you’re going to have to get a permit to sell it, and then you’re going to have to make sure you comply with our standards that were set forth in the bill and you’re going to have to be compliant. And we will have a group of regulators and inspectors that will be going out to do that come the first of the year. So make sure you’re compliant, make sure you understand the labeling requirements, and you’ll be fine. Get your permit when the time is ready.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. Okay, so you’re with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and then the Florida Department of Health oversees the medical marijuana.
Holly Bell: Yes.
Heidi Otway: So you all I’m sure are working together, or are you completely separate? How does that work?
Holly Bell: We are separate. We do help them with the edibles piece because that, again, is something that is humanly ingested, so falls under food safety. We have our rules done for the edibles portion of medical marijuana. We’re still waiting on the Department of Health for theirs.
Heidi Otway: You’ve shared so much great information, and I hope that our listeners have learned as much I have in this conversation. I got to ask you about recreational marijuana because we had the medical marijuana approved first. We’ve now brought in hemp, and there’s this huge push right now to try to get recreational marijuana approved in Florida. What are your thoughts on that?
Holly Bell: I am staying neutral on the topic. I don’t sign any petitions or anything. But I will tell you I’m a study of history, and history does repeat itself. And I’m also a study of statistics and trends, and those tell you a lot also. So if I go back and look at and do data research on other states, all of them started with medicine. They had medical care for a couple years, then they switched to adult use, which is what I like to call it. So I look at that and think it’s inevitable to come here. I mean, it’s a trend, and for Florida to think that they’re not like other states, that’s probably not true. We are similar and we’re going to follow the same suit.
Holly Bell: Then if I go back and look at it on a national level… go back and look at prohibition, what happened there. Canada allowed alcohol first. We sat back, didn’t do it, watched what happened up there, then we tagged along. Canada legalized cannabis at a federal level over a year ago. Their program’s been successful. They have a few hiccups, but every program does. Mexico is getting ready to do the same thing. So now we’re sandwiched in between two countries that have legalized it. It’s probably inevitable for us because if I go back and look at history and prohibition with alcohol, I think I’m going to see the same trend with cannabis.
Heidi Otway: So what does Florida look like, based on your experience working in the industry in your previous positions, what you’re doing now? What does Florida look like five years from now if you were to take, look into your magic ball?
Holly Bell: That’s a fun question. And I do sit around and think about it in the mornings when I’m having my quiet time and drinking coffee and just thinking about the day. I do believe in five years from now I’m going to look back, and like I see CBD everywhere, I’m going to look out and be out on my day and there isn’t going to be somebody that I’m not going to meet or something that I’m not going to see in my day that doesn’t tie back to the hemp program that we are creating now. I think we are going to have some environmentally friendly products out there. One will be some towels that think about the travel industry here in Florida. Hemp towels take a lot less water, a lot less detergent. Water’s an issue in Florida. So let’s replace all the towels in the hotels with the travel industry with hemp towels.
Heidi Otway: They are actually grown in Florida.
Holly Bell: Right. Right.
Heidi Otway: Full circle.
Holly Bell: With our farmers and then processed and made here with people who want to make textiles here. That’s just one example. I could go on and on. I think five years from now that’ll be happening. I’ll be living in a Hempcrete house that’s made from Hempcrete. It’ll be more energy efficient, hurricane resistant, less carbon footprint. So that’s my vision, and I do believe that.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. It’s a game changer for the state of Florida.
Holly Bell: And not just for farmers. It is for the whole.
Heidi Otway: Right, like you said, economic development, job creation. A whole new industry that will attract businesses to the state of Florida, and it almost sounds like you could go anywhere in Florida and grow it because we’re the Sunshine State.
Holly Bell: Yes, I do believe it’ll grow successfully throughout the state.
Heidi Otway: So are there any farmers growing hemp now in Florida?
Holly Bell: No farmers, but we do have hemp being grown with two universities, University of Florida IFAS and then FAMU. SO we have probably about 20 permits and locations throughout the state. Some are very big plots, some are very small, but they are successfully growing it. Some have failed. We’re learning a lot, and they started with that in March.
Heidi Otway: So they’re helping to kind of determine the best way to grow based on region, soil-
Holly Bell: Absolutely.
Heidi Otway: All of that.
Holly Bell: Yes. Absolutely, and that’s vital. I wished we could’ve gotten things started a year ago, but this industry is moving so fast that we got there as soon as we could. And they’re working as diligently as they can and they’re giving us great data.
Heidi Otway: Wow. Well, Holly, thank you so much. This is super exciting. I’m a Floridian and it’s great to see this new industry coming into our state and helping grow our economy and create jobs. There’s nothing better than that. We always ask our guests a couple of questions before we end the interview, and I know you’re new to Florida. You’ve been here since what?
Holly Bell: February.
Heidi Otway: February.
Holly Bell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Heidi Otway: And before that, you lived in Nashville.
Holly Bell: Yes.
Heidi Otway: So do you feel Floridian yet?
Holly Bell: I do. My husband’s family is down in the Jacksonville area-
Heidi Otway: Okay, good.
Holly Bell: So we spend a lot of time down here anyway-
Heidi Otway: Good.
Holly Bell: … and we wanted to move here, so yes.
Heidi Otway: That’s great. That’s great.
Holly Bell: We love it here.
Heidi Otway: Okay. Well, I’m glad to hear that. So let me ask you a couple of questions. Talk about your experience with Florida. Who is a Florida leader you admire? It could be someone from any different industry or field from the past or someone who’s working right now.
Holly Bell: Well, Commissioner Fried. Let me tell you, I was retired and happy in Nashville and doing what I wanted to. I’m down here because of her. There are a handful of people you’ll meet in your lifetime that are leaders that you’ll look at and say, “I’ll follow you. I will follow you wherever you go because I can align with your message and what you want to accomplish for the people.” And she’s one of those and that’s the only reason I’m here.
Heidi Otway: Yeah, and she’s been a champion for this from the very beginning.
Holly Bell: Yes, she is, and sticks true to her word.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. Great. What is a person place or thing in Florida that deserves more attention than it’s currently getting?
Holly Bell: That’s a great question. I don’t know if I have any one location, but I would probably go back to the middle part of the state where we have some beautiful agriculture facilities and some… There’s one here… What is it?
Heidi Otway: Wakulla Springs?
Holly Bell: Yeah, Wakulla Springs.
Heidi Otway: Yeah.
Holly Bell: Some areas like that-
Heidi Otway: Beautiful.
Holly Bell: … because people want to go to the beach because they think that’s where you go, they don’t understand the beauty that’s in the middle part of the state. We’ve been exploring that, and I just think that more people could go see that and they would love what they see.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. So have you been able to go and explore some of our rivers and lakes and springs? Is that what you’re referring to?
Holly Bell: Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Heidi Otway: Yeah.
Holly Bell: A few, yeah, and we are loving it.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. It’s beautiful. What is your favorite Florida location to visit?
Holly Bell: So, I will tell you, I love to go down to Palm Beach or St. Augustine. I just love it down there. I don’t know what it is about it, but I do like it down there, and I feel at home.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. Is there any place in particular that you visit every time you go over there?
Holly Bell: I do go to the beach. There is something cathartic for me about walking on that beach, taking my dog, I have a giant schnauzer and just letting him run. The first time he saw the ocean was hilarious. There’s something about walking barefoot on that sand, and no matter what the temperature, just grounds me and I love it.
Heidi Otway: Yeah. It’s a great part of being a Floridian, right?
Holly Bell: Yes.
Heidi Otway: Okay. And then my last question is, do you have a favorite Florida sports team?
Holly Bell: I don’t have a favorite, but as soon as I got to Tallahassee I saw a commercial for FSU games, and I looked at my husband, I said, “That looks like fun. I want to go to that.” And he looked at me like, “What? You’re not a football person.” But I love to go to FSU games, and we’ve been to a couple now and I just, I enjoy it a lot-
Heidi Otway: Good.
Holly Bell: I look forward to it.
Heidi Otway: Good, good. We’re so thrilled to have you here in the state of Florida creating this new industry for us. We really appreciate your time and sharing the information. Thank you.
Holly Bell: Well, you’re welcome, and thanks for asking me.
Chris Cate: Thanks for listening to the Fluent in Floridian podcast. This show is executive produced by April Salter with additional support provided by Heidi Otway and the team at Salter Mitchell PR. If you need help telling your Florida story, Salter Mitchell PR has you covered by offering issues management, crisis communications, social media, advocacy, and media relations assistance. You can learn more about Salter Mitchell PR at saltermitchellpr.com. You can also learn more about the Fluent in Floridian podcast and listen to every episode of the show at fluentinfloridian.com or by searching for the show using your favorite podcast app. Have a great day.
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