Make us your home page
Instagram

Gov. Rick Scott's jobs czar defends Florida's economic incentive programs

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's jobs czar defended the state's economic incentive programs on Friday, saying Florida would go after companies that failed to perform.

"There are good procedures in place that protect the state," said Gray Swoope, Scott's handpicked CEO of Enterprise Florida.

As the economy remains the top issue in a state with near-record unemployment, Swoope cautioned against broad judgments on incentive programs and urged that 1,622 projects since 1995 should be judged contract by contract.

But any details about projects with 62 companies, including 49 since Scott took office, are protected from public scrutiny because of public records exemptions that can last for two years. Other data, like average wages, are shielded from the public for the life of the deal.

According to new numbers released Friday, the state has paid $739 million in incentives to create 86,284 jobs since 1995.

But jobs for road projects are never verified because incentives are based instead on how much money a business spends.

Most of the state contracts withhold payments until jobs are created.

But companies can get cash up front from the Quick Action Closing Fund.

In the past 15 years, 10 companies have refunded $10.5 million to the state for failing to keep jobs promises. Burger King returned $3 million for a Miami-Dade project and Fidelity Global returned $2.3 million for an expansion in Jacksonville.

The state is also renegotiating contracts with six companies, including Jabil Circuit in St. Petersburg, that were paid $23.3 million but did not meet job goals.

Nearly all the deals were finalized before Scott took office. But lawmakers this year removed some legislative oversight of cash incentive projects and created a new agency, the Department of Economic Opportunity, to streamline job creation.

Sen. Don Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican expected to take over as Senate president next year, said companies could return state money if they aren't making good on their promises.

"If we have players out there who have not done what they said they would do, I want the money back to invest in more promising companies," Gaetz said in an interview.

Swoope said the state's 11 incentive funds all have different objectives. Some funds are meant to have immediate impact on job creation or retention. Others are supposed to create long-term impact and need decades to work, he said.

Swoope said the state gets a return on its investment even if the company only creates a fraction of the jobs it intended, because most of the contracts only pay out as companies meet certain goals. "We probably have some of the best compliance and metrics of our incentives anywhere in the country," he said.

Michael C. Bender can be reached at [email protected]

Gov. Rick Scott's jobs czar defends Florida's economic incentive programs 10/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 10:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations rebound from stronger earnings report

    Corporate

    TAMPA — After a sharp drop in its stock price in August and September, Health Insurance Innovations on Monday announced strong revenue and net income gains in preliminary numbers for its third quarter of the year. The company also announced a $50 million stock buyback over the next two years meant to bolster its …

    After losing more than half its market value between August and September, shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations are rebounding."The new share repurchase program underscores our confidence in our business strategy, financial performance, and the long-term prospects of our company while also allowing us the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business," company CEO Gavin Southwell announced Monday. [Courtesy of LinkedIn]
  2. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially …

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]
  3. Florida gas prices drop 25 cents on average over past month

    Autos

    Gas prices are on a downward tear post-hurricane. Tampa Bay fell to $2.34 per gallon on Sunday, down 10 cents over the week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Across the state, gas fell 7 cents over the same period to average $2.47 per gallon.

    Gas prices across the state fell 25 cents over 31 days. | [Times file photo]
  4. Entrepreneur expands interests with Twisted Crafts

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Playgrounds of Tampa owner Mike Addabbo is expanding into the do-it-yourself industry with his new endeavor: Twisted Crafts.

     Jennifer and Michael Addabbo pose in their latest entrepreneurial enterprise: Twisted Crafts. Photo courtesy of Twisted Craft.
  5. Amazing Lash franchise expands to South Tampa

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Jeff Tolrud opened the doors to his third Amazing Lash Studio franchise earlier this month, this time in South Tampa.

    When customers walk in, the studios have the same look and feel throughout the country, operator Jeff Tolrud said of Amazing Lash Studio. Tolrud opened his third in Hillsborough County earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Amazing Lash.