Trigaux: Despite Enterprise Florida turmoil on job incentives, site selectors find plenty to praise in Tampa
From Tampa Bay Times business columnist Robert Trigaux:
Who says Florida's economic development engine is on the fritz?
Sure, legislators nixed a coveted $250 million incentive fund that Enterprise Florida, the state's job-recruiting arm, really wanted.
Okay, Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson warned that loss of incentives could cost Florida 50,000 jobs. Now he's leaving the agency after barely a year in office. It's unclear if he exits with a pat on the back or a kick in the pants.
Alas, Gov. Rick Scott now wants to downsize Enterprise Florida's staff and privatize its funding, presumably to limit pesky legislators from interfering further in future job-recruiting efforts.
And yes, the trickle-down effect of this Tallahassee spat to Tampa Bay's economy may make it tougher for this area to land big-name expansions and high-paying jobs, as it has done recently with the arrival of behemoths like Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson.
Such is the climate of economic development uncertainty here as six top site selectors came to town this week at the invitation of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. After days of touring Hillsborough County from Plant City to downtown Tampa (along with a Frozen Four college hockey game thrown in), the six sat down Friday morning at the Tampa Marriott Waterside and offered their unvarnished assessment of how Tampa and Hillsborough - at least that half of the Tampa Bay market - look as a place to recommend to their corporate clients.
Their overall assessment: You've come a long way, baby.