TO: ENTERPRISE FLORIDA BOARD MEMBERS
FROM: GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT, ENTERPRISE FLORIDA BOARD CHAIRMAN
RE: Future of EFI & Job Creation in Florida
Enterprise Florida Board Members,
The Florida Legislature sent a clear signal this year that they do not want to fund competitive economic development incentive programs. With the zeroing out of the Quick Action Closing Fund, which is our state’s competitive incentive program for recruiting companies to Florida over other states, Enterprise Florida is left only to manage statutory incentive programs that operate largely off of objective, as compared to competitive, criteria.
Clearly, we have no choice but to refocus the efforts and mission of Enterprise Florida. Like you, I am a relentless advocate for more job creation in our state. I remember when my father’s car was repossessed when I was a child. I remember what holidays were like when my father was unemployed. I don’t want any family to ever suffer without a job. That is why I ran for Governor in 2010 and again for reelection in 2014. In the four years prior to my first election, Florida lost more than 832,000 jobs and home prices dropped by nearly 50 percent.
While we can be proud that Florida businesses have now added more than 1 million jobs since December 2010, we must continue to compete and win job creation projects in Florida even without the Quick Action Closing Fund. I want us to do everything we can to make sure our state doesn’t ever again see the job loss we experienced during the four years before I became Governor. We have to make the hard decisions now to do more with less and privatize many functions at Enterprise Florida so we are not dependent on state financing.
First, I have asked David Wilkins to immediately begin working with the Enterprise Florida team to define the functions Enterprise Florida should perform going forward without the Quick Action Closing Fund and to identify efficiencies and cost savings at Enterprise Florida so we can continue our mission to diversify Florida’s economy.
David Wilkins has experience in both the public and private sectors where he served in numerous leadership roles at Accenture, and served as the Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families. Specifically, I have asked him to identify a target of $6 million in savings from state funding. Currently, EFI has an over $9 million payroll (for around 90 staffers) and pays millions more each year for office space across the state of Florida and the world. Because EFI must do more with less due to the loss of our competitive incentive program, the agency will be forced to become smaller and more streamlined. A full review of existing state funds and their use with the intention to produce cost savings will help us get more use out of the taxpayer dollars we have now, and, where possible, repurpose state funding to job creation and away from overhead.
Second, I would like us all to consider current EFI roles that could run entirely from a private sector entity that does not depend on state funding. Today, only around $1.6 million in EFI funding is from private donors, with the remaining over $23 million coming from state funds. Without the need for EFI staff to review projects for the subjective competitive program funding, I would like your thoughts on whether any existing Enterprise Florida functions would be better performed by a separate entity that does not depend on state funds.
Third and finally, I would like these topics to be points of major discussion at our next EFI board meeting on May 11, 2016. I have asked David Wilkins to present a preliminary report on his thoughts on the functions Enterprise Florida should perform going forward without the Quick Action Closing Fund and how we can streamline state funds and services. I would like us all to discuss our ideas for what current EFI functions could be better handled by an outside group that would not need to rely on public funding.
There is no doubt in my mind that the loss of our competitive incentive program will forever change the face of economic development in our state. While we cannot expect to win competitive projects under which cities compete for jobs as a result of corporate and regional office relocations and plant expansions and relocations, we can promote our low tax environment, our low regulatory environment, our results-based education system, our investments in our ports, our 44 year low crime rate, and our geographic location.
Additionally, it will now be much more important that our universities and state colleges graduate students in high-demand job fields and entrepreneurs who want to build the next Google, Apple or Facebook. It is also my understanding that some counties are considering increasing their taxes to generate economic development funding for the purposes of providing incentive funds to competitive jobs projects from the local level.
However, it is up to us to proactively take steps to position Florida to continue competing for and winning jobs. I believe the weeks and months ahead will be filled with critical decision-making, but we must succeed in the end so individuals like my father don’t experience devastating job losses as they did in our state less than a decade ago. If we work together, Florida will be the number one state for job creation not just this year, but for decades to come.
Thank you for your consideration of these important issues and I look forward to seeing you all in May.
Governor Rick Scott