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Politics

Rick Scott to Begin Two-Day Recruiting Trip to Kentucky

September 21, 2015 - 9:30pm

Gov. Rick Scott will fly to Kentucky early Tuesday for two days of private meetings in Lexington and Louisville with unidentified business owners about moving or expanding to Florida.

There won't be any warm welcome from the top executive of the Bluegrass State for Scott, who has already has lined up at least one Kentucky company to say it's bringing jobs to Florida.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, will be busy the next two days, said his spokesman Terry Sebastian.

"Gov. Beshear is meeting with a delegation of Taiwanese officials on a substantial deal for Kentucky farmers, as well as announcing an oral health initiative for thousands of Kentucky children," Sebastian said.

Beshear, who has traded barbs with the Republican Scott over the economies of both states, has previously said the trip for Scott will "waste his time."

But Scott, who is scheduled to be with staff from his office and Enterprise Florida in Lexington on Tuesday and Louisville on Wednesday, already is poised to announce at least some new jobs while in Kentucky.

Scott's office declined to discuss the details of the announcement, which will be made Tuesday morning in downtown Lexington.

For Scott, this is his fourth "domestic economic development" mission this year.

Scott earlier went to Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Hartford, Conn. Each location, as with this week's venture, was in a state with a Democratic governor.

It remains to be seen how successful these recruitment trips will be.

The Philadelphia excursion focused on the continued expansion of Wawa convenience stores in Florida, while attracting more maritime cargo highlighted the stop in Los Angeles.

Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, the state's public-private business recruiting agency, acknowledged last week before a Senate committee that Florida failed to land a "significant" Connecticut-based company, one of "America's oldest and largest." He said the unidentified corporation didn't want to go south of the Georgia-Florida line.

Scott and Enterprise Florida, in hunting for private businesses to expand or relocate to Florida, have been playing up that Florida doesn't have a personal income tax and is "proud" to be a right-to-work state while targeting Kentucky's "pro-union, big government policies."

Two years ago, he wrote a public letter to Kentucky businesses about moving to Florida and two weeks ago Enterprise Florida started running an ad touting Scott's upcoming visit.

The Louisville Courier-Journal, expressing some of the bitterness that lingers over Scott's decision to move the headquarters of nation's largest hospital chain out of Kentucky two decades ago, has used the words "poach" and "plunder" in reporting on the upcoming executive visit.

As CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Scott relocated the company's headquarters from Louisville to Nashville in the mid-1990s after publicly criticizing Kentucky's tax structure.

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