• Gov. meets with rodeo officials, hopes to lure national competition to central Florida


    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - For the first time, Florida Gov. Rick Scott came face to face with the group considering central Florida as the next home for a national rodeo competition.
    Officials said the event could pump tens of millions of dollars into Florida's economy.
    Wes Williamson's family has raised cattle in Florida since the 1800s. He said he would love to see the National Finals Rodeo held in Osceola County.
    Williamson is with the Florida Cattleman's Association, an organization that promotes the interests of cattle ranchers.
    "I think there would be just trailer loads of people coming from Okeechobee and all around central and south Florida, to come to this event," said Williamson.
    On Wednesday Scott signed a resolution, which says he and his cabinet "Support and encourage the movement of the National Finals Rodeo to Osceola County."
    Rodeo officials have already met with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who wants the 10-day event for his state.
    "What could give us a competitive edge over Dallas, everyone is worried it's going there," Channel 9 reporter Tim Barber asked Scott.
    "Think about it, we have, hopefully we will have this year, we will have 100 million tourists," said Scott.
    Scott said he is giving $100 million to Visit Florida, to help promote the state and bring even more tourists.  
    This week rodeo officials toured the Amway Center, which is where the event would be held until Osceola County builds its own 24,000 seat arena across from the Gaylord Palms Hotel.
    Williamson said he believes Florida would be perfect, because some of the first cattle came here nearly 500 years ago.
    "It's bringing it home," said Williamson.
    County leaders said they are still compiling the numbers to figure out how much tax money has been spent trying to convince rodeo officials that central Florida is the place for their big show.
    They said a number of hotels and restaurants have opened their doors to the rodeo officials for free.

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