Consulting nonsense: Throw more upfront tax dollars to recruit companies, pay Floridians less
If "jobs, jobs, jobs" is Florida's only economic strategy, we'll get what we pay for. (Photo: Chris Zuppa, Tampa Bay Times)
Wake up and good morning. When I grow up I want to be an economic development consultant. That way, I can tell Florida to boost its economy by handing out more tax dollars upfront to relocating companies while also lowering the already too-low wage standards for new jobs those companies might bring to the state.
I could call the report Desperate Florida: Throwing Away Tax Dollars, Impoverishing Its Residents and Giving Up On Its Ambitions.
Except a new consultant is pretty much already telling Florida that's the way to go.
A South Carolina consulting firm presented its study recommendations last week to Enterprise Florida that essentially says if the Sunshine State gives companies more money upfront and lets them pay less to Floridians, then more businesses will relocate to this state. "People just don't think of Florida as a 'top of mind' place to do productive activity," Mark Sweeney (photo, right) of McCallum Sweeney Consulting in Greenville, S.C., told Enterprise Florida last Thursday, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
So my question is: What would people think of Florida if the state accepted this consulting advice? Florida already has a sorry track record for failing to police the tax dollars it gives companies upfront. And the last thing Florida needs -- given its declining household income -- is for more jobs to be created that continue to drag down state wages.
The remarkable insights in this 178-page "competitiveness" report from Sweeney (and a few other consulting firms) cost $105,000 (yet again given to out-of-state businesses). It was paid for by this state's major utilities, including Progress Energy, Seminole Electric, TECO Energy, Florida Power & Light and Gulf Power. The reports also recommends tax changes and more emphasis on green energy -- an ironic idea given the most recent posting on this Venture blog being about BP's abandoning its biofuels plant ambitions in Florida.
I wonder if these consultants were picked because nobody based in Florida would ever conjure up recommendations so poor for Florida's future.
First of all, I'm wondering why Florida's big utilities decided to fund such a simplistic report for $105,000 when I would have been delighted to offer them an even better recommendation for free. If all Florida wants is to recruit businesses here with no further regard for economic consequences, then simply do this. Whatever Sweeney's firm recommends, just double the upfront tax dollars to businesses and tell them they can pay Floridians minimum wage and, better yet, make them all part time and avoid offering any benefits.
We'll have businesses stumbling over each other to set up operations in Florida. Then we can all celebrate Florida's cleverness as its standard of living continues to fall.
Come on, Tallahassee leaders. Florida's future is not just about "jobs, jobs, jobs" -- no matter what they pay.
We can do a lot better than this.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times