At new state economic agency, Doug Darling's at 'war' to recruit new jobs to Florida
Wake up and good morning. We're starting to get a bit of early insight into the economic development thinking of Doug Darling (photo, left). He's one of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's picks, along with Gray Swoope (what he's up to here) to try and energize the state economy with more jobs and business recruiting success stories.
Darling's new job as head of a new state agency created to promote economic development -- the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) -- becomes official Saturday, Oct. 1. The new department houses under one roof three former state agencies: the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, the Agency for Workforce Innovation and the Department of Community Affairs.
An ex-Marine, Darling recently told a state senate committee that Florida is in an economic development "war" with other states and countries.
Darling did offer some insights in this First Coast (Jacksonville) interview about how his new agency will work on expedite new job deals in Florida. He cited the recent announcement of Time Warner's decision this month (details here from St. Petersburg Times) to bring 500 jobs to Tampa. From the First Coast News story:
"Darling points to the Time Warner deal recently announced as an example. The company submitted an application for incentives on September 6. Darling approved it on September 12. Gov. Scott signed off on it three days later. Florida handled the potential deal with urgency and now more than 500 new jobs are headed to the Tampa area. 'That is what the alignment of Enterprise Florida and DEO is going to bring to businesses who are looking to expand or come to Florida to start their business - a responsive, flexible, rapid response. We're in competition with 49 other states and every country in the world for businesses who want to come to a place where they believe they can get certainty about the decisions they're going to make. And if DEO can do anything, it's help those businesses reach that certainty faster."
Well, hope that formula works for Florida. We certainly need it. Darling, by the way, most recently served as Gov. Scott's deputy chief of staff and Cabinet affairs director. In 2008, Darling actually worked for Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink as the state's chief of the state division of accounting and auditing. Darling became one of two top Sink aides who were asked to resign after auditing firm Deloitte & Touche raised questions. An audit of the agency's internal controls following the discovery of a scheme -- never commenced -- to defraud the state of millions of dollars by a Lebanese man living in Broward County. The audit found a lack of internal controls. More on this episode here.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times