Posts Tagged ‘Department of Economic Opportunity’

Headlines and links to Florida Bulldog’s five years of reporting on Gov. Rick Scott

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

From a Miami reader of Florida Bulldog:
“Your series on [Gov. Rick] Scott and corruption has been terrific and significant. How about, as soon as possible, posting a summary, i.e. the headline and link to your archives, so that readers can see all the relevant stories in one place? ” A great suggestion.
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Spotlight on Kalashnikov USA after spy arrest, reports Russia targeted NRA for U.S. influence

Friday, August 17th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
A U.S. senator has asked the Treasury Department whether it has investigated the apparent relationships between U.S.-sanctioned Russian arms makers and Russian-linked U.S. arms manufacturers, including Pompano Beach’s Kalashnikov USA.
The post Spotlight on Kalashnikov USA after spy arrest, reports Russia targeted NRA for U.S. influence appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Spotlight on Kalashnikov USA after spy arrest, reports Russia targeted NRA for U.S. influence

Friday, August 17th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
A U.S. senator has asked the Treasury Department whether it has investigated the apparent relationships between U.S.-sanctioned Russian arms makers and Russian-linked U.S. arms manufacturers, including Pompano Beach’s Kalashnikov USA.
The post Spotlight on Kalashnikov USA after spy arrest, reports Russia targeted NRA for U.S. influence appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Rick Scott paid $200,000 in tax incentives to company in which he had financial interest

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Gov. Rick Scott’s administration paid $200,000 in job-creation tax incentives to a Fort Myers-based cancer treatment company in which the governor had a personal financial interest.
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Congressman Deutch wants answers about Kalashnikov USA and Russia sanctions

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch asked the Treasury Department Wednesday if it has investigated Pompano Beach-based Kalashnikov USA to determine whether federal sanctions were violated “through illicit business relations” with Russian firearms giant Concern Kalashnikov.
The post Congressman Deutch wants answers about Kalashnikov USA and Russia sanctions appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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State knew Pompano gun maker in business with banned Russian firm when tax incentives offered

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s administration knew in 2015 when it offered $162,000 in tax-refund incentives to Pompano Beach assault rifle maker Kalashnikov USA that the company was doing business with a Russian arms giant that was blacklisted by the U.S.
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Federal grand jury subpoenas state, city records in probe of maker of Russian assault rifles

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
A Miami federal grand jury has subpoenaed records from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and Pompano Beach about an aborted economic incentives deal with the authorized U.S. manufacturer of Russian Kalashnikov assault rifles.
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Rick Scott, Kalashnikov assault rifles, tax incentives, U.S. sanctions, and Russian oligarchs

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
When Pompano Beach’s authorized manufacturer of Russian AK-47 assault rifles was in jeopardy of losing $162,000 in tax incentives in 2016, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration tried to ride to the rescue.
The post Rick Scott, Kalashnikov assault rifles, tax incentives, U.S. sanctions, and Russian oligarchs appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Broward, Pompano OK’d tax breaks for maker of Russian AK-47 assault rifles

Monday, March 5th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
At the first regular meeting of the Broward County Commission after the Valentine’s Day shooting slaughter in Parkland, Mayor Beam Furr talked of anguish and action. But 32 months earlier Furr and his commission colleagues offered tax incentives to attract to Broward the maker of Russian-style AK-47 assault rifles.
The post Broward, Pompano OK’d tax breaks for maker of Russian AK-47 assault rifles appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Gov. Scott skirted Russia sanctions to offer tax breaks to maker of AK-47 assault rifle

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Gov. Rick Scott’s administration offered $162,000 in state tax breaks to bring to South Florida the manufacturer of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, even though the U.S. had imposed sanctions against Russian-made military assault weapons.
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Before deaths, Gov. Rick Scott and Hollywood nursing home owner were chummy

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

By Dan Christensen
FloridaBulldog.org
Before Gov. Rick Scott and South Florida healthcare mogul Dr. Jack Michel began pointing fingers at each other after elderly patients baked to death in Michel’s now-closed Hollywood nursing home, the two men were pals of a sort.
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Florida’s unemployment rate ticks up to 5% in January

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Florida’s unemployment rate ticked up in January, reaching 5 percent for the first time in a year.
The January unemployment rate marks a slight uptick from December, when state officials reported an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent. The statewide rate is higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.
Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, Gov. Rick Scott lauded private sector employers Monday for creating more than 50,000 jobs in January.
The governor made the monthly jobs announcement at Herc Rentals in Bonita Springs, and used his appearance to once again take aim at lawmakers who voted to support a bill (HB 7005) to eliminate Enterprise Florida and a slew of other economic incentive programs.
“It makes no sense to me,” said Scott. “The House took a vote last week, and they said we don’t need Enterprise Florida anymore. That’s going to absolutely kill jobs. That’s going to kill opportunities.”
On Friday, the Florida House voted 87-28 to approve the measure, with more than half the House Democrats voting for the proposal. All of the House members who represent Lee and Collier counties voted in favor of the bill.
Scott was quick to point out that several of those members who voted for the bill attended a 2013 event announcing rental car giant Hertz would be relocating its offices to Lee County. Scott said that bringing Hertz, and later Herc Rentals, to Southwest Florida likely wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Enterprise Florida.
“We’re on a roll, this state is booming. Why would we mess this up,” said Scott. “I’m going to be out there fighting for jobs every day.”
Scott is scheduled to hold a roundtable with business and economic development leaders in Tallahassee later today, where he’ll talk about Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. The event is expected to be similar to

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Rick Scott talks Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida with SWFL business, community leaders

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott met with Lee County community and business leaders, holding the first in a series of round table discussions across the state meant to rally support for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida funding.
“Right now, I’m going to fight every day to make sure we keep this funding because it’s good for your family,” said the Naples Republican. “It’s an investment. We make an investment and we get a return.”
Scott has requested $85 million for economic incentives for Enterprise Florida, making it one of his top priorities going into the 2017 Legislative Session. But the governor faces a big battle for the incentive dollars, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran saying the House budget will not include incentives. He’s been staunchly opposed to economic incentives, even equating them to corporate welfare.
And last week, the House took the first steps to not just defunding economic incentives, but to eliminate Enterprise Florida. The House Careers and Competition Subcommittee voted 10-5 to approve a committee bill to kill Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, as well as a slew of other incentive programs.
Rep. Dane Eagle, a Cape Coral Republican and the House Majority Whip, was among those who voted in favor of the proposal. Eagle was appointed to the committee as an ex officio member, and is a member of the full House Commerce Committee.
Scott blasted Eagle for his vote, saying he was “very disappointed” and couldn’t imagine why he would vote to do end Enterprise Florida or Visit Florida. The Lee County event was held in Eagle’s district.
“Governor Scott can’t explain why the system should be rigged against hardworking taxpayers and small business owners of Florida,” said Andres Malave, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity-Florida, in a statement. “Instead of advocating for a more competitive regulatory business climate, he is wrongly convinced that

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DEO “Cissysplains” economic incentives to Richard Corcoran

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott has now sicced the Department of Economic Opportunity, headed by executive director Cissy Proctor, on the Florida House to take down its critique of economic incentives.
A news release, issued late Tuesday, continues the cold war of words between the governor, an ardent supporter of incentives, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has called them “corporate welfare.”
The department’s response is reprinted below, unedited and in its entirety:
Today, the Florida House of Representatives used data maintained by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) that was unfortunately used to inaccurately describe the result of the state’s economic incentive programs. DEO would like to take this opportunity to accurately explain the data and how the incentive programs work to create valuable Florida jobs while aggressively protecting taxpayer dollars.
DEO Director Cissy Proctor said, “Before Governor Scott came into office, state incentives were often awarded before stringent requirements were met. However, under Governor Scott, Florida companies receive economic incentives after these requirements are met, including proven job growth and wage requirements.  Only contractual commitments that are met are paid.  This ensures a return on investment for Florida families.”
CLAIM
64.3 percent of the economic incentives listed below were unsuccessful because: 
•They only completed a portion of their requirements for which they were paid and can receive no more payments (inactive) 14.2%
•They never received any payments though a contract was executed and are ineligible for future payments (terminated) 36.9%
•The contract was never signed (vacated) 11.9%
•The application was withdrawn 1.2%
FACT
It is inaccurate to say that all inactive, terminated, vacated and withdrawn projects are not successful. While inactive projects met some performance measures, businesses were only rewarded for the jobs they created. This means the program is working. Only contractual commitments that are met are paid.
For example, if a company moves to Florida and commits to creating 100 jobs

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Fla. court says Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

A Florida appellate court has ruled that a former Uber driver isn’t entitled to unemployment benefits because he was an independent contractor, not an employee.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami ruled Wednesday for the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state’s jobs agency, against Darrin E. McGillis.
The ruling is another win for the San Francisco-based ridebooking service, which is fighting a multi-state legal battle not to be considered an employer so it doesn’t have to pay certain benefits under state labor laws.
McGillis filed for unemployment after Uber “revoked his access” to its app because of “alleged violations of Uber’s user privacy policy.”
The court’s opinion noted that Uber “does not provide benefits such as medical insurance, vacation pay, or retirement pay.”
It sends all drivers an Internal Revenue Service form known as a “1099,” “used to report payments to independent contractors.”
“Drivers exercise a level of free agency and control over their work different from that of the traditional … employer-employee relationship,” said the opinion by Judges Barbara Lagoa, Vance E. Salter and Thomas Logue.
“… Drivers are permitted to work at their own discretion, and Uber provides no direct supervision,” it says. “Further, Uber does not prohibit drivers from working for its direct competitors.
“… Uber drivers like McGillis decide whether, when, where, with whom, and how to provide rides using Uber’s computer programs,” the opinion adds. “This level of free agency is incompatible with the control to which a traditional employee is subject.”
Uber last year settled lawsuits for millions of dollars in California and Massachusetts that allowed it to keep classifying drivers as contractors.
As CEO Travis Kalanick blogged last April, the company hadn’t “always done a good job working with drivers.”
“For example, we don’t have a policy explaining when and how we bar

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Florida unemployment rate holds steady at 4.9% in December

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Florida’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in December, holding steady at 4.9 percent for the second month in a row.
State officials, however, touted gains made in 2016, boasting Florida businesses created 237,300 private sector jobs in 2016.
“Over the last six years, we’ve worked each day to make it easier for job creators to invest and create new opportunities in our state, and we will continue to do everything we can to help Florida out compete other locations as the best place for jobs,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement.
Scott typically makes the monthly jobs announcement during a press conference, but the Naples Republican was in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the inauguration of Donald Trump.
“Today, as we proudly welcome a new president who will make job creation a top priority across our nation, we stand ready to fight for another great year of economic growth in Florida,” he said.
According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida’s job growth has exceeded the nation’s rate since 2012. The agency reported December was the 77th consecutive month with “positive over-the-year growth.”
The leisure and hospitality industry continues to make the most gains, growing by 4.6 percent year-over-year.
“With more than 250,000 job openings across the state and more than 1.25 million new private-sector jobs created in the last six years, it’s clear Florida is a great place to find a good job,” said Cissy Proctor, the executive director of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in a statement. “Our low unemployment rate and strong record of job creation prove Florida is a great state to do business.”
The majority of the state’s 24 metro areas saw gains in December compared to the same time in 2015. The Orlando metropolitan area once again led the state in private sector job growth, adding 48,300 new private sector jobs in

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Personnel note: Dean Izzo departs DEO for Capital City Consulting

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Dean Izzo, the Department of Economic Opportunity‘s chief of staff, is leaving the state’s jobs agency for a post at Capital City Consulting, the firm announced Wednesday.
Izzo
Izzo, who also has been chief financial officer and chief information officer for DEO, begins Jan. 30. He had been with the agency since its creation in 2011.
“Dean will be a true asset to our current and future clients seeking partnership with the state and we are excited for him to join our growing team,” said Nick Iarossi, a partner at the firm.
Added Izzo in a statement: “Capital City Consulting is second to none for government relations in Florida. I look forward to using my dynamic experience, relationships and knowledge of the executive branch to work on behalf of our clients.”
He previously was director of real estate for the Florida Department of Management Services, “where he oversaw approximately 55 million square feet of commercial property, managed the state’s construction management and leasing program, and provided strategic and technical management of Florida’s real estate holdings and assets,” the release said.
Izzo also has been vice president of operations in the retail banking division at JP Morgan Chase Bank, a consultant and project manager at IBM, and chief information officer at the now-defunct Florida Department of Community Affairs, according to the release.
He received his undergraduate degree in real estate and finance from Georgia State University, and has Florida Certified Contract Negotiator Certification as well as Project Management Professional Certification from the Project Management Institute.
Izzo will continue to live in Tallahassee with his wife and children.
The post Personnel note: Dean Izzo departs DEO for Capital City Consulting appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Florida’s economic development efforts are ‘underperforming’

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Florida’s state economic development efforts are “underperforming,” according to a new legislative report.

An undesirable label by any standard, critics and lawmakers already skeptical of providing taxpayer support for private businesses are likely to seize on the bureaucratic euphemism and underlying findings to bolster their anti-incentives position ahead of the March state legislative session.
The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, a nonpartisan legislative research office, conducted a comprehensive review of Enterprise Florida Inc. and the Department of Economic Opportunity —the state’s two most prominent development organizations— and found the results of their economic development activities wanting when compared with other states.
The analysis spans 10 years and focuses on job creation in targeted industries as well as economic growth. These two areas are the main justifications for awarding taxpayer-funded subsidies to selected businesses, and for their proponents’ significant annual funding requests.
In the report, auditors compared Florida to seven competitor states with tax-incentive agencies and programs: Alabama, California, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Overall, from 2006 to 2015, Florida experienced job growth in only two of six targeted industry sectors, management of companies and enterprises, and professional, scientific and technical services. The state ranked third and seventh in the job categories, respectively, when compared with the other states.
Additionally, Florida ranked fourth out of the eight for high-wage job creation in manufacturing, sixth in both wholesale trade and finance and insurance, and seventh in information services.
“Further analyses showed little or no employment growth in these industries relative to the nation,” the report said.
Texas, a state often compared with Florida because of their comparable size and rapid growth, received first place rankings for employment in five of the six tax-incentive targeted industries.
The report also compares Florida with its competitor states according to several economic indicators commonly used in studies that examine state economic

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Company praised by Rick Scott hasn’t lived up to promises

Monday, December 5th, 2016

A company Gov. Rick Scott was praising more than a year ago for creating jobs is now delinquent in its property taxes and has never met its hiring goals.
The Fort Myers News-Press reported Sunday that Altair Training Solutions was supposed to be a multi-million dollar enterprise with facilities in Hendry and Collier counties where it would offer training for law enforcement and military combat personnel.
Altair’s owners, Michelle and Brian Jones, said they would bring 150 jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $62,000, to Hendry County. Back in May 2015, Scott himself visited a company location in Immokalee to highlight the job growth promised by the company.
The newspaper reported the state and county overlooked signs that the company was little more than a pipe dream. They also overlooked the owners’ troubling financial history and that they had no secured contracts necessary to meet $4.5 million in loan obligations.
The Joneses’ short history in Southwest Florida is mired by lawsuits, liens, judgments, several defunct businesses, foreclosures and a bankruptcy. Brian Jones’ military career was embellished in published reports, marketing materials and even by state and local officials, inferring experience in special operations that he lacked.
Altair, which turned to the state and county for incentives, brings in $275,000 a year in revenue and has 20 employees. The newspaper reported that lenders had foreclosed on a $3.7 million property purchased by the company in Hendry County and that the state terminated Altair from a tax incentive program in late 2015.
If Altair met certain goals it was supposed to get refunds from the state for money it paid in income tax, sales tax, property taxes and workers’ compensation insurance premiums. In all, Altair could have qualified for $806,000 in refund payments from the state.
But the Joneses didn’t meet hiring goals and never received

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Sanford Burnham doubles down against state efforts to recoup incentive money

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Ten years to create 303 jobs.
That straight-forward commitment was a core aspect of an agreement that allowed a California-based biotech nonprofit to secure $350 million in state and Orlando-area taxpayer support.
It didn’t happen.
Penned in 2006, time has now run out on Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute’s deal with the state. It’s 66 jobs short, according to state records.
But rather than pay back some of the money, the research institute is doubling down on its refusal to comply with the state’s accountability efforts – even goading state officials “to help preserve and create more jobs.”
In a letter to the Department of Economic Opportunity dated Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving, Sanford Burnham’s senior legal counsel said he was “surprised” that the state had sent the organization a notice of default requesting returned incentive funds.
“Sanford Burnham is not in material default of any obligation in the agreement,” he said. “Please regard this letter as Sanford Burnham’s rejection of all the allegations, claims, and demands contained in your Oct. 28 (Notice of Default) letter.”
It was the second such correspondence in a month.
In addition to the lack of jobs created, DEO officials contend that representatives of the organization verbally indicated to the department that it intends to cease its Florida operations in the coming months and leave the state so it can consolidate operations at its California campus.
Since the incentive deal spans 20 years, DEO is seeking 50 percent of the $155 million contribution state taxpayers afforded the Orlando venture, as well as the return of equipment purchased with state funds.
Sanford Burnham’s Nov. 23 letter denied it would cease operations, calling DEO’s assertion an “erroneous belief.”
But Sanford Burnham management tried for months to hand over its troubled East Coast spin-off to the University of Florida, a taxpayer-funded public institution.
After a period of negotiations that initially

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State wants money back from research institute

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute claims that it does not owe half of the $155 million it received as an incentive to move to Florida, while the state has not backed down on its demand for a payback.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) still wants the Lake Nona research facility to return $77 million because it did not create the 303 jobs it promised. The money was supposed to be repaid by Nov. 15.
“DEO remains committed to holding Sanford Burnham accountable for all taxpayer monies received and will continue to investigate our options for any repayment necessary of incentive funds that were provided to Sanford Burnham,” according to a statement released Monday from Erin Gillespie, DEO’s director of communications and external affairs.
Knox Bell, the San Diego attorney representing Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP), sent a letter to DEO Nov. 23 detailing why they are not at fault and urging DEO to work with them “to help preserve jobs and create new jobs, rather than destroy all the good jobs, science and activities that have been established over the last decade by SBP and its dedicated faculty and staff…”
The letter said SBP is not in default of the DEO Innovation and Incentive Funding Agreement and there were no penalties outlined if the 303 jobs were not created. It also states that Florida is not entitled to any incentive refund or return of equipment purchased with the incentive money.
SBP will remain in Florida during the next year, “assuming current circumstances remain substantially unchanged,” according to the letter. However, it added that they would continue to explore other viable long-term plans.
SPB has “acted honestly and in good faith” and the “Lake Nona faculty and staff have worked extremely hard and made many personal sacrifices to make SBP at Lake Nona into the

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Despite philosophical differences, Richard Corcoran expects House committees to consider incentive requests

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

New House Speaker Richard Corcoran expects funding requests for Florida’s top jobs agency to move through his chamber’s committees, despite his strong personal objections to taxpayer-financed economic incentives.
Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports that Gov. Rick Scott is requesting $85 million in incentives for a broad range of business deals to attract businesses to Florida.
Also, the Department of Economic Opportunity — an agency Scott oversees — is requesting funds for VISIT FLORIDA, the quasi-governmental tourism arm, and Space Florida, which is tasked with boosting the state’s space sector.
Corcoran opposes those finance requests, just as he has a philosophical difference over economic incentives. Despite that, the House Speaker believes they will likely be considered by the House Commerce Committee, chaired by Miami Republican Rep. José Díaz.
Corcoran told Dixon he opposes all taxpayer-funded incentives, which he believes is not a function of government, but will not stand in the way of committees considering funding requests.
“All of those are on the table and will be evaluated,” Corcoran said.
Decisions will be made on whether they offer a high return on investment. If not, Corcoran said the programs will be “cut.”
Among the requests from the Department of Economic Opportunity are $26 million in a one-time trust fund disbursement for VISIT FLORIDA, an amount supplemental to the $50 million in recurring funding — $76 million in the current year budget.
As part of the department’s request, Dixon reports that each dollar is expected to bring in $1.80 in private sector matching funds.
Per the request: “The current base funding of $50 million matched at 1.8-to-1 will result in lower overall private funding compared to the prior two years, which will result in a reduction in tourism marketing programs, and a correlated reduction in visitation, tourism spending and economic impact.”
Space Florida is also asking for $7 million to attract

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Despite philosophical differences, Richard Corcoran expects House committees to consider incentive requests

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

New House Speaker Richard Corcoran expects funding requests for Florida’s top jobs agency to move through his chamber’s committees, despite his strong personal objections to taxpayer-financed economic incentives.
Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports that Gov. Rick Scott is requesting $85 million in incentives for a broad range of business deals to attract businesses to Florida.
Also, the Department of Economic Opportunity — an agency Scott oversees — is requesting funds for VISIT FLORIDA, the quasi-governmental tourism arm, and Space Florida, which is tasked with boosting the state’s space sector.
Corcoran opposes those finance requests, just as he has a philosophical difference over economic incentives. Despite that, the House Speaker believes they will likely be considered by the House Commerce Committee, chaired by Miami Republican Rep. José Díaz.
Corcoran told Dixon he opposes all taxpayer-funded incentives, which he believes is not a function of government, but will not stand in the way of committees considering funding requests.
“All of those are on the table and will be evaluated,” Corcoran said.
Decisions will be made on whether they offer a high return on investment. If not, Corcoran said the programs will be “cut.”
Among the requests from the Department of Economic Opportunity are $26 million in a one-time trust fund disbursement for VISIT FLORIDA, an amount supplemental to the $50 million in recurring funding — $76 million in the current year budget.
As part of the department’s request, Dixon reports that each dollar is expected to bring in $1.80 in private sector matching funds.
Per the request: “The current base funding of $50 million matched at 1.8-to-1 will result in lower overall private funding compared to the prior two years, which will result in a reduction in tourism marketing programs, and a correlated reduction in visitation, tourism spending and economic impact.”
Space Florida is also asking for $7 million to attract

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Florida DEO demands $77M back from Sanford Burnham

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute has two weeks to return $77.6 million in taxpayer money it received as an incentive to build a Central Florida research center.
However, the nonprofit research center has balked at the demand and claims they should not be required to repay the state.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) claims the troubled nonprofit has breached its contract to provide jobs and remain in the state for 20 years. The state wants Sanford Burnham to return half of the $155.3 million it gave in incentives to move to Central Florida. Under the 2006 agreement, the California-based research giant agreed to create 303 jobs at its Lake Nona site by July 1 of this year. But according to the latest state report, they were 66 jobs short of meeting that goal.
The DEO Innovation and Incentive Funding Agreement was supposed to last for 20 years, but 10 years into the contract, Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP) began looking for a way to leave Florida blaming a decrease in federal research grants as its state incentives ran out. If the nonprofit leaves halfway through the deal, the state argues it should get half the money back.
Sanford Burnham tried to broker a deal with the University of Florida to take over the research facility but UF backed out last week.
In an Oct. 28 letter sent from Karl Blischke, DEO’s director of strategic business development, to Sanford Burnham, it said the state “released funds in the good faith belief that our partner would carry out their legal obligations under the agreement. Unfortunately, Sanford Burnham has assumed the posture that it will leave Florida prior to satisfying its contractual obligations.”
Knox Bell, the San Diego attorney representing Sanford Burnham, sent a letter to DEO Oct. 31 responding to the allegations. Knox said that while

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Florida’s unemployment rate 4.7% for fifth straight month

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Florida’s unemployment rate remained flat in September, marking the fifth straight month the state reported a rate of 4.7 percent.
The state added 17,900 private-sector jobs, bringing the total number of jobs created in 2016 to 200,000. According to the Governor’s Office, the state has created more than 1.2 million jobs since December 2010.
“We will continue to do all we can to encourage job creators to invest in our state so we can create more opportunities for Floridians to provide for their families and achieve their dreams,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement Friday.
Scott announced the monthly jobs numbers during a stop at Uniform Advantage in Fort Lauderdale. The company designs and manufactures scrubs for hospitals, dental clinics and veterinary offices.
According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, all 24 metro areas saw year-over-year gains in September. The largest gains were once again in the Orlando area, followed by the Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area and the Tampa Bay metropolitan area.
The Orlando area added 52,100 new private sector jobs over from September 2015 to September 2016. The DEO reported the unemployment rate in the area was 4.5 percent.
The region’s leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest gains over the year, adding 13,500 jobs. The construction industry added 12,500 jobs, followed by the education and health services with 9,100 new jobs.
The state also announced Orlando had the second-highest demand for high-skill, high-wage STEM occupations with 9,326 openings.
The Tampa Bay region added 32,000 private-sector jobs over the year in September. Professional and business services saw the largest gain with 8,500 new jobs over the year, followed by education and health services with 6,800 new jobs. The region, according to the Governor’s Office, led the state in job demand in September.
“Tampa-area businesses continue to be some of the top job creators in Florida, adding 32,000

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Florida’s unemployment rate holds steady at 4.7 percent

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Florida’s unemployment rate remained steady in August, marking the fourth straight month the state reported a rate of 4.7 percent.
The state added 22,600 private-sector jobs across the state in August, bringing the total number of jobs created in 2016 to 167,100. The unemployment rate remains at 4.7 percent, one of the lowest rate since November 2007, according to the Governor’s Office.
“It’s a great thing,” said Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. “We have people moving into the state every day and private sector businesses are creating jobs. Having a steady unemployment rate with all those positive indicators is a great thing.”
Gov. Rick Scott announced the monthly jobs numbers during a stop at All Access Multimedia, a Fort Myers marketing and production company that specializes in commercials, infomercials and web videos.
“This is a great month,” said Scott, who noted the state has added nearly 1.2 million private sector jobs since he took office.
According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, 23 out of the 24 metro areas saw year-over-year jobs gaines. The largest gains once again occurred in the Orlando area, where the state jobs agency reported 48,300 private sector job were added over the year.
The unemployment rate in the Orlando area was at 4.4 percent, a 0.7 percentage point drop from August 2015.
Known as a tourist haven, it’s no surprise that Orlando area saw gains in the leisure and hospitality industry. The Department of Economic Opportunity reported 13,600 jobs were added in the leisure and  hospitality industry over the year. Construction came in second with 10,200 new jobs, followed by education and health services with 8,400 new jobs.
The Tampa Bay region added more than 39,500 private sector jobs over the year in August. The area had an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in August.
The Department of

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Gov. Scott to get first state Supreme Court pick

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Florida Supreme Court Justice James Perry announced Monday he is stepping down Dec. 30, which will give Gov. Rick Scott his first opportunity to begin reshaping a court that has frustrated Republicans on issues ranging from political maps to protecting doctors from lawsuits.
Perry, 72, is forced to leave the court because he’s reached the mandatory retirement age. Scott will almost certainly appoint a more conservative justice to replace him, though he didn’t give details about what he will look for in a justice.
“What I do is try to find the candidate that I believe will uphold the law and be humble in the process,” said Scott, who repeated several times that he wants a justice to “uphold our existing laws.”
Republicans have seen the current court throw out several priorities in recent years, including caps on medical malpractice lawsuit awards, caps on lawyer fees in worker’s compensation cases, an effort to protect developers from lawsuits, and congressional and state Senate political maps approved by the GOP-dominated Legislature.
The court also told Scott he overstepped his boundaries by ordering state agencies to freeze rulemaking and submit planned regulations to his office for review and approval, and earlier this year it put a 24-hour waiting period for abortions on hold while it reviews the law.
“I’m pleased that a conservative governor is in a position to be able to move the court more toward the right,” said Republican Sen. Rob Bradley of Fleming Island. “We’ve seen some activist decisions over the past three years that are very concerning to many of us in the Legislature.”
Perry was appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to the state Supreme Court in 2009. He was the fourth black justice appointed to the court.
Florida law requires that justices retire once they turn 70, although they can serve out their term if

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Jesse Panuccio: Florida workers have much to celebrate this Labor Day

Friday, September 4th, 2015

As we join family and friends at barbeques, pool parties, and picnics this weekend, it is worth reflecting on Florida’s remarkable economic turnaround. This Labor Day, Florida’s workforce is presented with pathways to prosperity that were unthinkable just a few years ago. The Great Recession hit Florida hard. Our unemployment rate skyrocketed to 11.2 percent, we lost 913,000 private-sector jobs, job demand plummeted, tourism faltered, our historic net inflow of new residents dried up, our real GDP declined, our housing market collapsed, and consumer confidence tanked. In short, during the recession, there was little for Florida’s workforce to celebrate on Labor Day each year.
Today, the economic picture for our workforce is quite different. From day one, the Scott Administration has worked hard to enact policies that would reverse the state’s negative trajectory and jumpstart the economy. We started from a simple premise: lasting prosperity arises when businesses and families live and work in an environment that promotes and rewards hard work, innovation, and investment of time and resources. That’s why the Scott Administration has supported tax cuts and the elimination of unnecessary regulations. That’s why state agencies now treat families and businesses as partners rather than as adversaries. That’s why we’ve invested record amounts in infrastructure, education, and workforce training.
The result? Over the last few years, Florida has had an economic turnaround that has defied predictions. Our unemployment rate has fallen more than five points, our private-sector has added more than 917,000 jobs, our GDP is growing again, our job demand is at record levels, tourism is setting records, and our housing market is recovering. Today, businesses and families are again making the choice to move to Florida. They again see Florida as an opportunity economy. Our population is growing and consumer confidence is at its highest level in years.

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