For Florida's chief job recruiters, it's bonus time

Published Aug. 20, 2015

Our state's chief job recruiters want a bonus.

On Thursday, the board of state-backed Enterprise Florida, the chief job-recruiting arm of the Sunshine State, will be asked to approve up to $765,000 in combined bonuses divided up among its first-year president and his staff. The amount of the bonus package is the same as Enterprise Florida successfully sought last year for its staff.

Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson, the former director of PortMiami, signed a $265,000-a-year contract in February to run the economic development agency, which receives state and private funding.

It's an annual tradition. Last August, Johnson's predecessor as Enterprise Florida CEO, Gray Swoope, received a $120,000 bonus on top of $275,000 base salary. In the two previous years, Swoope received $70,000 bonuses. He now works as a private economic development consultant in Tallahassee.

Is that a lot of money? Of course. But plenty of economic development leaders make similar amounts, if not more.

Earlier this month, the Hills­borough County Aviation Authority approved a 5 percent raise for Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano that will amount to a $17,000 pay hike as of October over this current salary of $347,287. Tampa Bay Partnership chief Stuart Rogel was paid more than $458,000 in his last year before stepping down from the position, though it's likely his successor will be hired for less.

All of these salaries pale, of course, when compared to the CEOs typically making several million dollars who run the larger public companies based in this metro area.

Enterprise Florida, being a public-private partnership, argues its bonus money does not come from state funding. But that's where funding sources become muddy. Ben Wilcox of the watchdog group Integrity Florida said that with $51.5 million in state money going to Enterprise Florida this year, the bonus funding "really is public money."

An Enterprise Florida compensation committee met Wednesday to propose an amount for the board, whose members include Gov. Rick Scott, to consider today for the agency's top executive.

Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this column. Contact Robert Trigaux at