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Enterprise Florida marketing takes hit

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Florida’s business-recruitment agency isn’t giving up on marketing to executives just because its budget has been slashed.

But it might not market to as many.

In scaling back marketing efforts after a cut in state funding, the public-private Enterprise Florida has outlined a $3 million marketing plan for this fiscal year that will reduce national newspaper ads and limit what the agency does at Major League Baseball spring-training games and with NASCAR.

Joe Hice, who is leaving his position as Enterprise Florida’s chief marketing officer in September, said the agency is waiting for the 2018 spring training schedule to determine what cities, and thus what visiting executives, to focus on for the Grapefruit League games.

Also, while the intent is to keep up appearances at the Daytona 500, Enterprise Florida would like to be able to end its ties at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

“Those are rather expensive events,” Hice told members of the agency’s Strategic Partners & Policy Committee meeting Monday at The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. “We think they’re bucket list events. People want to come to those events, so we’d like to continue to do it. But we’d like to get them (Daytona) to help us out with the events.”

Other “bucket list” events remaining on the marketing schedule include The Players Championship, a golf tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, and the September 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota.

The Legislature during a special session in June created an $85 million funding pool for regional business-recruitment efforts called the “Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.”

That came after House leaders pushed during the regular session to eliminate Enterprise Florida. While the Senate refused to go along with the elimination, lawmakers eventually settled on a $16 million budget for the agency, down from $23.5 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

To handle the cut, the marketing program took the biggest hit, falling from what had been $10 million a year, of which $8.5 million came from the state.

“Just realize, our $3 million budget is going up against a $140 million budget from New York, a $110 million budget from California, a $50 million budget from Texas and a $30 million budget from Georgia,” Hice said.

Hice said the agency, which has faced a couple years of downsizing, has been able to roll over some of the marketing money from the past year.

Still, marketing will need to be more direct.

Enterprise Florida is setting aside $400,000 for ads with national newspapers, such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, down from more than $1 million a year.

Don’t expect full page ads that could run in six figures, Hice said. Instead, the focus will be digital ads.

Another $400,000 is slated for marketing partnerships with Florida’s rural counties, which could double that pot.

Also, $350,000 is to be targeted through airline clubs and with fixed-base operators at regional airports, where corporate executives depart and arrive in private planes.

“In the earlier research that we’ve done, we found that 60 percent of every corporate executive that we interviewed had visited Florida at least once within the past two years,” Hice said. “So, we know they’re getting here by plane for the most part. So, let’s reach them when they’re coming into the state with a business message, but maybe when they’re coming in for a vacation.”

The marketing also includes $300,000 for social media outreach, through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and $100,000 for print and video production.

Hice, who was hired by the state agency in 2015, is leaving to be chief marketing officer at the University of South Florida, where he will also teach branding and strategic communications.

Republished with permission of News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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