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Enterprise Florida: We Abide by the Law

As a report was released Tuesdayby Integrity Florida and Americans for Prosperityquestioning apparent conflicts of interest and possible pay-to-play at Enterprise Florida, the public-private business development group was lobbying its successes to legislative leaders.

In a letter to House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, the Enterprise Florida board of directors highlighted their efforts to bring business to Florida and recent efforts to make their work more public.

Where does Gov. Rick Scott stand? The letter was released by the governor's office.

As the 2013 legislative session quickly approaches, the Enterprise Florida board of directors wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the job creation efforts of Enterprise Florida (EFI) as well as address some troubling accusations released today.

In 1995, Enterprise Florida was created to improve the strength of Floridas economy through the pursuit of competitive projects that lead to higher wages and a more diverse economy. A policy-driven board of directors oversees the organization, made up of a combination of appointed members and a diverse group of investors representing some of the nations largest and most notable corporations. In addition to the board, our stakeholders represent each county as well as a number of key partner organizations. Together, these two groups help spread the message that Florida is the best place in the world to locate, grow or expand a business.

Through the legislation that you supported two short years ago, Florida now has a seamless economic development team focused on creating jobs for Florida families, increasing capital investment in our communities and providing a significant return on the investment made by the states taxpayers.

The addition of the secretary of commerce position that also serves as the president and CEO of Enterprise Florida has led to the efficient use of resources and allowed EFI to more effectively coordinate the states economic development efforts with Workforce Florida Inc. and the newly created Department of Economic Opportunity.

Under the leadership of Gray Swoope, the silos have been torn down, the team is laser-focused in the mission of winning competitive projects and they are developing the tools that will help Florida succeed.

The metrics from 2010 to 2012 clearly demonstrate EFIs progress. Over the last two years, new jobs projected from announced projects are up 73.6 percent and capital investment is up an outstanding 94.8 percent. A sampling of the top announcements from around the state includes:

? Digital Risk Statewide.

o Risk and compliance management for financial services.

o 1,000 new jobs; $3 million in capital investment.

? Navy Federal Credit Union Pensacola.

o Worlds largest credit union.

o 700 new jobs; $6 million in capital investment.

? Bi-Lo/Winn Dixie Jacksonville.

o One of the largest supermarket chains in the countrys headquarters.

o 100 new jobs, 891 retained; $81 million in capital investment.

? Mindtree Limited Gainesville.

o Global IT and product engineering company opened its first U.S. Delivery Center.

o 400 new jobs; $2.925 million capital investment.

? Boeing Titusville.

o Manufacture and assemble its CST-100 spacecraft for launches.

o 550 new jobs; $163 million in capital investment.

? DaVita Rx LLC Orlando.

o Full service pharmacy in renal care.

o 100 new jobs; $8.75 million in capital investment.

? Chicos FAS Fort Myers.

o Expansion of corporate headquarters.

o 150 new jobs, $25 million in capital investment.

? Time Warner Tampa.

o Shared resources center that hire IT and human resource positions.

o 500 new jobs; $5 million in capital investment.

? Univision Networks Miami.

o New 24-hour news network with ABC.

o 346 new jobs; $274 million in capital investment.

Despite the success, EFI staff along with this board of directors, knows that there is still work to be done as long as there are any Florida residents who are looking for work. As in any organization or corporation, there are also areas for internal improvement.

Enterprise Florida remains steadfast in its commitment to accountability and transparency regarding economic development incentives. Over the last two years, the following initiatives have taken place:

With the support of Enterprise Florida, DEO launched an online economic development incentives portal providing access to information about the states economic development incentive programs. DEO expects to have all nonconfidential projects available on the portal by March.

EFI supported legislation to accelerate the release of agreements with companies to create jobs. In fact, the timeframe that details can remain confidential was cut by 50 percent, from a year to 180 days.

In the 2012 Economic Development Incentives Report, EFI included performance data for the various incentive programs including verified job creation and wage figures, calculation of economic benefits utilizing actual company performance and actual incentive payments made. The report also included listings of businesses with incentive contracts executed during fiscal year 2012 and those receiving incentive award payments.

EFIs board meeting materials including the agenda and board book are posted on EFIs website and the meetings are being televised live by the Florida Channel.

Some groups publicly oppose the competitive incentives Florida provides as a tool to compete for business growth and development. The simple truth is Enterprise Florida abides by the law.

Incentives: Enterprise Floridas board of directors has no role in evaluating, approving or granting incentives. Decisions to award incentives are based on the economic benefit of the project, alone, according to state statute. Incentives are negotiated by the staff of Enterprise Florida and approved by the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Contract Integrity: Like many government agencies and private businesses, Enterprise Florida contracts for business services such as phone, Internet, cable, legal services, banking and insurance. Companies represented on the board of directors of Enterprise Florida are among the most reputable and successful companies in the state providing these services. It would be impractical to prohibit these companies from competing for these contracts. Contracts with board-member companies are approved by the executive committee/board and Enterprise Florida complies with Florida Statutes, which requires a board member with a potential conflict to recuse him or herself.

Protecting Taxpayers: Floridas economic development toolkit includes programs designed to address specific needs of businesses as they look to expand or locate in Florida. The use of incentives is one of Floridas most powerful tools in stimulating and diversifying the economy, creating jobs and expanding businesses. Incentives awarded to businesses and local governments are based on meeting performance criteria benchmarks throughout the duration of their agreements with the state and each agreement contains important provisions to protect taxpayer funds.

Return on Investment: In 2010, the states Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) reviewed Enterprise Floridas impact analysis model. Enterprise Florida and EDR worked together to redefine variables within the impact analysis model to optimize the states return on investment estimate. EDR recommended using statewide RIMS II multipliers instead of regional multipliers to ensure the fiscal impact of increased economic activity is captured on a statewide basis. The new impact analysis model became effective July 1, 2011.

As you move through this legislative session, we strongly urge you to contact us with any questions you may have about our commitment to economic development in Florida, our record of success in competing for job creation by using the tools provided to us, and our strong standards of ethics and integrity, which are essential to our strength in competing with other economic development entities across the country and the world.

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