Make us your home page
Instagram

State list of business incentives, released in error, may make Florida more accountable with tax dollars

What should we make of the contents of a mistakenly released database of state incentive packages created to lure hundreds of businesses and produce more than 32,000 jobs in 39 of Florida's 67 counties?

Disclosed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the database reveals nearly 270 deals totaling $155 million since the start of 2011. Some deals the state tried to close but could not. Others it completed. And, here is the sensitive part, several dozen are still in negotiations.

Florida talks a good game about recruiting new businesses. In reality, it's often criticized for lagging behind other states that demand better accountability about all those tax dollars handed out as business incentives. That's the key finding in a recent report from the Pew Center on the States. It says Florida is the largest among 25 states that has "not taken the basic steps needed to know whether their incentives are effective."

Now that it is public, this database may let Floridians better judge how well state officials manage tax incentives.

My take? The often out-of-the-public-view process of getting companies to expand here with state incentives turns out to be an incremental game.

If Florida is trying to add 32,000-plus jobs in about 270 deals, that's an average of less than 120 new jobs per incentive package. (As perspective, about 800,000 Floridians are still unemployed these days.)

Few companies identified in the database are moving their headquarters to Florida, if indeed the firms decide to come at all. Those that are opening HQs here are small with names few have heard of. There are no blockbuster deals listed.

Combined, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco captured about 17 percent of the $155 million. That translates to just over $26 million in 30 separate awards to attract as many as 5,300-plus jobs in the three-county area. That's a reasonable if not stellar piece of the statewide total.

In comparison, Brevard County on Florida's east coast managed to attract nearly 20 percent of the total. That amounts to more than $30 million in 32 state incentive deals to create more than 4,300 jobs over the same period. Most of those Brevard deals involve aviation companies like Embraer and Boeing.

Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco each made the top 10 Florida counties ranked by incentive dollars. Hillsborough's largest incentive package of $2.65 million backfired after the Ybor City cloud computing start-up Savtira Corp. lost investor trust and landed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We'll see if new backing of Savtira from well known area investor Kiran Patel can revive any of that now-canceled incentive package.

Meanwhile, Pasco patiently waves millions in incentives at St. Petersburg's Raymond James Financial to expand in Wesley Chapel. And in Pinellas, two incentive deals topping $2 million apiece aim to lure jobs from defense giant Lockheed Martin and Florida firm Cool Sound Industries, which uses sound technology as a green way to provide air conditioning.

If they come, those jobs average $56,000 and $44,388, respectively.

Contact Robert Trigaux at trigaux@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay incentive dollars, promised jobs

County Incentive offers* Total awards New jobs*

Hillsborough 17 $8.87 million 2,308

Pinellas 6 $6.9 million 1,280

Pasco 7 $10.5 million 1,711

Hernando 1 $119,000 17

Total 31 $26.4 million 5,316

* Figures are estimates because database may list some incentives and jobs more than once.

Top counties in incentive dollars committed

County Incentive offers* Total awards New jobs*

Brevard 32 $30.7 million 4,319

Duval 21 $13.38 million 2,150

Palm Beach 17 $11.42 million 1,218

Pasco 7 $10.5 million 1,711

Orange 21 $10.34 million 2,621

Hillsborough 17 $8.87 million 2,308

Pinellas 6 $6.9 million 1,280

Broward 16 $6.55 million 1,701

Suwanee 2 $5.1 million 700

Miami-Dade 17 $4.91 million 1,656

State total (all counties) 270 $154.8 million 32,750

* Figures are estimates because database may list some incentives and jobs more than once.

Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

State list of business incentives, released in error, may make Florida more accountable with tax dollars 06/25/12 [Last modified: Monday, June 25, 2012 8:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]