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Enterprise Florida and DEO pitch Leg for money for a “Perfect Business Climate” campaign

Gov. Rick Scott’s marketing plan for the state of Florida is starting to come into focus.

In his second term inaugural address Tuesday, Scott called on the businesses and people of California, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois to move to Florida.

“Over the next four years, I will be traveling to your states personally to recruit you here,” said Scott, positioning Florida as a leader in a fight against big government. “Florida is getting stronger each year because we are dreaming of more opportunities for our families – not more roles for government red tape.”

The House Economic Development & Tourism Subcommittee Wednesday got a preview of what Scott’s message will be while traveling the country for the next four years – Florida has the “Perfect Business Climate.”

Enterprise Florida and the Department of Economic Opportunity told lawmakers Florida has a remarkable story to tell about the last four years.  DEO Secretary Jesse Panuccio said Florida leads the nation in job and labor growth and decline in unemployment.

“Policies matter,” said Panuccio, citing job growth, lower unemployment numbers and an increase in the labor force. “There are reasons our labor force has increased by 243,000 people and our growth rate is nearly triple the national growth of labor; people vote with their feet, (and go) where they see good markets and opportunities.”

Panuccio said what the state needs now is a marketing campaign to spread the word. He was followed to the lectern by Enterprise Florida’s Melissa Medley who reviewed a “record-breaking year” for Florida economic development efforts.

Investors pumped more than $2.7 billion into Florida projects last year, a 41 percent increase compared to the previous year and up 15 percent since 2010. And to underscore her point that Florida needs to do a better job at telling its economic success story she asked committee members if any were aware that Florida was the world-wide leader in developing medical devices.

“Everyone knows we are number one in tourism,” said Medley.  “We have the story to tell but we don’t have the marketing budget to tell that story.”

Medley said Enterprise Florida and 19 organizations raised $1.4 million for a Perfect Business Climate Campaign that resulted in direct contact with more than 2,300 site consultants and business decision makers. She and Panuccio urged committee members to direct more money to the effort.

Lawmakers were receptive to the pitch.

“The governor, DEO and Enterprise Florida are doing the job and we’re going to try to do whatever we can to increase the funding to help you guys out,” said committee chairman Frank Artiles.

Others applauded Medley’s and Panuccio’s presentations but indicated they were looking at the numbers with a grain of salt.

Rep. Ray Pilon explained that agencies always try to put their best foot forward when presenting to committees.

“But the path that we’ve taken shows exactly what they presented,” said Pilon while acknowledging challenges remain. “It’s not all roses but it’s a pretty nice flower bed at the point we are right now.”

“I think the general information presented was very upbeat and accurate in general broad strokes,” said Rep. Shawn Harrison. “We’ll delve into the details as the committee progresses.”

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