When it comes to Gov. Rick Scott and Northeast Florida, is there such a thing as too much of a good thing?
For the fourth time since the beginning of March, Gov. Scott was in Jacksonville Tuesday, as Scott held another “business roundtable” with Mayor Lenny Curry and other Jacksonville notables, including former mayor and UNF President John Delaney, at Florida State College Jacksonville’s downtown campus.
Incentives, Scott said, can’t just be done on the county or city level … a new talking point this trip.
Scott discussed Visit Florida.
“We can quantify that every 76 tourists equals one job. I want all the jobs,” Scott said.
New on this trip: Gov. Scott noting that he’d “love to work with Puerto Rico” as it works to rebuild his economy, noting that he also seeks “win-win” relationships, such as in the trade trip to Argentina later this month.
With the end of the Quick Action Closing Fund, Scott’s message has a particular urgency; as he has noted in previous visits to Jacksonville, those deals the fund facilitated are drying up now, without the resources to make that final sale.
Also as in previous visits, Scott encouraged locals to call the legislators who voted against incentives — five of them locals — and asked why they voted against jobs.
Curry said “this is important to Jacksonville — a big issue.”
Curry endorsed Scott’s job agenda, noting that “for many of the companies [that came here] … a big part of that was incentives.”
“Economic freedom and jobs are actually [among] the most powerful things in history,” Curry noted.
Delaney, leaving UNF next year, recycled a quote from former Mayor Jake Godbold regarding incentives.
“If I stood on the corner and handed you a dollar, and you handed me $10 back, I’d take that deal all day long,” Delaney said.
DEO Director Cissy Proctor touted incentives as well.
“It takes this type of partnership … to continue to fight for the jobs,” Proctor said, discussing the importance of economic incentives to the governor’s strategy.
Jerry Mallot noted that Deutsche Bank and GE came to Jacksonville after a “serious competition.”
While the right workforce, talent, and environment are key, the “final competition” with other states comes down to incentives.
In the case of Deutsche Bank, other projects and expansions followed.
In the case of GE, Jacksonville was “woefully short” of other offers — the governor made the case to the CEO, and that, coupled with “closing the gap” of almost $15M, was dispositive.
“We lost it in the middle,” Mallot said, “and we won it back.”
“We’re fighting tooth and nail,” Mallot said, and “without the tools to do it, we’re sunk.”
“We have to win this fight,” Mallot added.