Making Florida First in Job Creation

Governor Scott’s top priority is to grow jobs through diversifying Florida’s economy and supporting small businesses. Unfortunately, Florida’s Quick Action Closing Fund is nearly bankrupt. With a lack of resources and a burdensome approval process for projects, Florida has not had a seat at the table for many economic projects which lead to losses to:

  • Texas, which won Toyota’s North American Headquarters and will create 4,000 jobs;
  • New York, which won Fresh Direct and will create more than 2,800 jobs;
  • South Carolina, which won Volvo’s North American Headquarters and will create 4,000 jobs; and
  • Georgia, which won Engineered Floors and Baxter International that together will create nearly 4,000 jobs.

Compared to Florida’s competition, the Sunshine State is significantly under-funded:

  • Texas - $285 million (funding that initiated the program);
  • New York - $150 million;
  • South Carolina - $58 million; and
  • Georgia - $46 million.

Job Creation Texas, Florida’s number one competitor, has been the leader in job creation because dollars in the Texas Enterprise Fund do not revert at the end of fiscal years, the approval process is efficient and does not include layers of red tape and the program is competitively funded through large one-time allocations. The Texas Enterprise Fund has awarded over half a billion dollars to job creators, and currently has an additional $90 million on hand to award to companies for competitive job creation projects.

To beat Texas, the Florida First budget makes investments to create a new and dynamic economic development trust fund, the Florida Enterprise Fund, so Florida can outcompete Texas to become the number one job creator in the country.

Creating a New Florida Enterprise Fund – The Florida First budget invests $250 million in one-time funding to create the new Florida Enterprise Fund. This Fund will allow Florida to compete against Texas, diversify Florida’s economy and support small business by:

  1. Dedicating economic incentive funds so they do not revert;
  2. Eliminating the current escrow account and creating a new trust fund;
  3. Eliminating special waivers; and
  4. Streamlining the approval process for incentive deals to be more inclusive of the Legislature.

Attracting and Retaining Florida Businesses – In total, the Florida First budget invests approximately $122.5 million for Florida’s economic development public-private partnerships , including $80 million in marketing dollars for VISIT FLORIDA, $17.5 million for operation and job creation funding for Space Florida, and $25 million for the operations of Enterprise Florida.

In addition, $38 million is provided for economic development incentives outside of the new Florida Enterprise Fund such as the Qualified Targeted Industry Tax Refunds, Defense Contractor Tax Refunds and Brownsfield Development Tax Refunds.

Quick Response Training (Florida Flex) – To diversify Florida’s economy and support small business, the Florida First budget invests an additional $3 million in Florida Flex for a total of $15 million.The program’s popularity among businesses of all sizes has increased demand for the program, and as a result, last year’s budget amount is expected to run out before the end of the year. This increase will build on the program’s success in providing businesses, both large and small in targeted industries, with matching funds related to specific training activities for workers who will be moving into new jobs created in Florida.

Tourism Florida First for Tourism – The Florida First budget includes $30 million to restore non-recurring funds and increases total funding for VISIT FLORIDA to $80 million, which will build on its success in attracting more tourists to the Sunshine State. For every dollar invested in VISIT FLORIDA, taxpayers saw a return of $3.20, and VISIT FLORIDA raised more than $138.5 million in private matching funds. Over the last year, 100 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 4.9 percent over 2013, and spent $82 billion, up 7.7 percent over 2013.

Florida Export Diversification and Expansion –With the continued expansion of Florida seaports, the Florida First budget continues to make Florida first by investing in exports to global markets. Governor Scott’s budget recommends $1 million to continue two highly successful export diversification and expansion programs . These programs help diversify Florida’s economy and increase Florida’s international trade and exports through Target Sector Trade Grants and Export Marketing Plan assistance.

In 2014, Enterprise Florida provided 95 target sector trade grants. Eligible small and medium-sized companies can apply for these grants to help offset costs and enable them to participate in Enterprise Florida trade shows and select U.S. certified trade exhibitions in target sectors.

Investing in Florida’s Workforce System – Governor Scott is committed to making Florida first in workforce development so Florida’s economy can continue to diversify and attract more businesses to Florida. Since 2011, Governor Scott has directed investments of over $1.4 billion for communities to ensure the best workers are available to Florida’s job creators.

The Florida First budget recommends $229.3 million for Florida’s 24 Regional CareerSource Boards responsible for providing workforce services directly linked to job seekers and businesses including job placement, recruitment assistance, and skills training. The Florida workforce system helped place more than 470,000 Floridians in jobs during 2014, and more than 326,000 Floridians have been placed in jobs this calendar year. More than 28,000 Florida veterans found jobs with the help of the state’s workforce system last year, and more than 18,210 veterans were placed in jobs this calendar year.

Fighting Against Fraud in Florida’s Reemployment Program – To better combat the growing fraud that reemployment assistance programs across the country have experienced in recent years, the Florida First budget invests $3.5 million to increase security and fight against fraud. This funding will be used for information technology security tools, network vulnerability tests, enhanced identity security, enhanced training for staff, and the creation of a task force of sworn officers and criminal investigators to combat fraud. This funding will help Florida become the number one state in the nation for reemployment assistance fraud prevention and detection.

Competitive Florida – Last year’s budget secured funding to provide disadvantaged communities with support and resources to diversify and grow businesses. The Florida First budget invests $2.3 million to provide new communities with these opportunities. This includes an additional $1.1 million to execute the plans developed with these communities.

Improving Florida’s Transportation System – TransportationOver the last 20 years, millions of people have left states with rising taxes to move to states with lower taxes like Florida. People left states like New York, which lost $86 billion in adjusted gross income from 1992 to 2014, and Illinois, which lost $41 billion in adjusted gross income over that same period. During that time, Florida gained almost 5.5 million residents, and in 2014, became the nation’s third largest state. In order to accommodate this growth and be first in the world in job creation, Florida must be first in transportation infrastructure to support its growing population.

Florida remains at the leading edge of transportation innovations and has been recognized for inventive funding solutions enhancing capacity of transportation infrastructure. Since 2011, Governor Scott has overseen the investment of over $47.7 billion in funding for roads, bridges, airports, and seaports. In 2014, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked Florida second in the nation for the quality of its infrastructure. To make Florida first in the nation for transportation, the Florida First budget invests $9.2 billion for DOT’s Work Program to ensure that more than 20 million residents and 100 million visitors are able to move safely and effectively throughout the state. The Florida First budget makes the following transportation investments:

  • $3.3 billion to expand transportation system capacity, which includes adding 169 new lane miles;
  • $963.4 million for maintenance and operation;
  • $546.8 million for resurfacing more than 1,916 lane miles;
  • $237.6 million for aviation improvements;
  • $574 million for transit program improvements;
  • $731.9 million for scheduled repairs of 48 bridges and replacement of 21 bridges;
  • $159 million for safety initiatives;
  • $153.9 million in seaport infrastructure improvements; and
  • $46.6 million for bike and pedestrian trails.