Who is Gray Swoope and how can he reignite Florida's stumbling economy?
Wake up and good morning. Who is Gray Swoope and can he make a difference to the Florida economy? Florida Gov. Rick Scott recruited Swoope from Mississippi to become Florida Secretary of Commerce (remember that old title? It's back.) Now we're trying to figure out how Swoope can help reinvigorate the Florida economy on a shoestring state budget. Here are some recent stories that shed some early light on this guy and his methods:
* Swoope, in a conversation with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, says it's not a priority to give companies financial incentives (not that we have much to begin with....) for bringing new jobs to the Sunshine State. "Those are admittedly important tools, but Swoope said that here -- and previously in Mississippi -- he had rarely started a conversation with a laundry list of what the state could give a potential client." Read more here.
* People, Swoope suggests, think Florida competes for business against New York, California and Texas because of the size of the state. "We don't compete with those states, maybe with Texas occasionally, but we don't compete with those states for jobs. We compete with the Southeastern states," he said in this Tampa Tribune story. (Funny, I thought Florida competed with China, India and the Philippines since the vast bulk of outsourced jobs seem to have landed over there -- not in other southeastern states.)
It's still early, but Swoope is Gov. Scott's point man to meet this Florida campaign promise of "700,000 jobs in seven years." We'll continue to check in on his strategy and progress.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times