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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A weakened Enterprise Florida battles external critics, internal angst



TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Rick Scott and dozens of business leaders running Enterprise Florida, the state's chief economic development arm, were riding high during their January board meeting here.

"We have momentum," Scott said, ticking off record job creation stats and the economic development incentives he's used through the quasi-governmental agency to lure companies to Florida.

Moments later, Enterprise Florida unveiled a splashy, $10 million branding campaign with the tagline: The Future is Here.

Then it all unraveled:

• The Legislature in March refused to give any new money to Scott's signature job-creation program.

• The hard-charging CEO of the organization, Bill Johnson, abruptly resigned on Monday.

• And Scott announced plans for a major shake-up, leaving some of the biggest supporters of the organization wondering if it has any future at all.

"If it looks like we can't get anything done, why would I want to be there?" Sarasota businessman and Enterprise Florida board member Jesse Biter said.

In short, Scott's most cherished government entity is reeling.

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[Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2016 6:41pm]


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