Americans For Prosperity Florida is praising the Sarasota County Commission for rejecting a financial incentive to help lure an out of town private company to relocate their business in the county.
“We’re thrilled to see Sarasota County reject the calls from special interests to take taxpayer dollars and give it away to a private company,” said state director, Chris Hudson. “These local businesses have every right to be upset that their tax dollars are being used to bring their competitors in from other states and compete against them. It’s not governments place to pick winners and losers, the other 66 counties should take Sarasota’s lead and do away with these failed corporate welfare handouts.”
Sarasota Commissioners voted 4-1 on Tuesday against providing $720,000 in local tax refunds and grants to an undisclosed national roofing company that would compel them to move to the county. The state had pledged another $864,000 in incentive money to help Sarasota County land the headquarters, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The vote is being decried by economic development officials who say that such incentives are absolutely required to attract companies to relocate to their region. Local contractors lobbied heavily against the commission granting the incentives.
The vote could be interpreted as a statement opposing the narrative driven by the economic development community about bringing new business. And in Thursday’s Tampa Bay Times, business columnist Robert Trigaux speculates on whether the deleterious affects of the Sarasota County Commissioners “thumbing its nose” at a headquarters relocation could actually affect Jeff Vinik’s attempts to attract out-of-state corporations to relocate to his proposed 40-acre redevelopment in the Channelside area of Tampa.
It seems unlikely the Sarasota denial of a deal would influence Vinik’s efforts, but it’s early to assess the Sarasota impact. Site selectors are a clubby bunch and talk to one another frequently — more so when one of them feels unexpectedly spurned in what should have been a slam-dunk deal. And Sarasota’s county commissioners bowing to the wishes of local companies, however well-intentioned, could spark more pushback against economic development in other metro areas.
Americans for Prosperity Florida has been one of the few prominent organizations to fight against such economic incentives. They’ve concentrated their work in the legislature in recent years against proposals for incentives to Hollywood producers and sports franchises, and applauded legislators who worked against Governor Rick Scott’s request for $250 million for Enterprise Florida, the state’s mostly taxpayer-funded economic development agency charged with creating business deals.