Sunday, February 10, 2013

Report Rips Enterprise Florida

A report jointly released by the non-profit watchdog group Integrity Florida and the grass-roots organization Americans for Prosperity (AFP) last week examined the "pay-to-play" appearance of Enterprise Florida’s Board of Directors, potential conflicts of interest between the Board and Enterprise Florida staff, deals and contracts with Board member companies, and questions Enterprise Florida’s reported new job numbers.  


Brevard County was singled out in the report for tax incentive rewards to Harris Corporation which also has a seat on the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors.


Jobs' Numbers Questioned:

The report's findings conclude that, "After operating for twenty years and despite negotiating more than 1,600 transactions involving economic development incentive agreements worth more than $1.7 billion, Enterprise Florida reports that only 103,544 jobs have been delivered since 1995 – half of their original target and eight years beyond its original target date."


“Enterprise Florida was created by the Legislature more than twenty years ago with the lofty goal of bringing new jobs to Florida.  Yet it has failed to meet its stated goals all while giving the appearance of being a hotbed of cronyism and corporate welfare,” said AFP-Florida’s State Director Slade O’Brien.  “Millions of tax payer dollars have been handed out to companies for the promise of new jobs but these deals have failed to fulfill their promises, and only disrupt the natural free market.”


Lack of Private Funding:

As a public-private partnership formed in the 1990's, Enterprise Florida was expected to obtain private sector support to help pay for its costs of operation.  The Florida Legislature required Enterprise Florida to obtain 50% private sector contributions by Fiscal Year 2000-01. The report found that "As of Fiscal Year 2010-11, more than 85% of Enterprise Florida’s funding comes from government and less than 15% comes from the private sector."

Despite Enterprise Florida being almost fully funded by tax dollars, the report criticizes Enterprise Florida for the lack of public disclosure of "secret deals" under Florida's Sunshine laws.


Company Involvement:

The report made clear that it "does not find that any business or corporation named in the report has done anything illegal or at all wrong by seeking incentives from Enterprise Florida or by serving on its Board...Working within the existing Enterprise Florida model of “economic development” to gain a competitive advantage in the market place would be expected of a company that wants to succeed and grow in this state." 


Read the full report here.


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