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Enterprise Florida holding firm to hire new head this month

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Enterprise Florida (EFI) is sticking to its plan to hire its next president and CEO by the next board meeting on Sept. 28-29.

The public-private economic development organization’s presidential search committee held a conference call Monday.

Stan Connally, head of Gulf Power Company in Pensacola and chair of the search committee, said the group had received over 100 resumes for the position.

They include Enterprise Florida Chief Marketing Officer Joe Hice (blog here) and former Florida Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Richard M. Biter (story here).

Alan Becker, EFI board vice chair, said he expects only a handful of applicants will meet the trifecta of the agency’s needs: knowledge of economic development, organizational leadership, and experience working with the Legislature.

Bill Johnson, the agency’s immediate past leader, had taken hits over his people skills as the agency’s proposed $250 million incentives fund crashed and burned during the 2016 Legislative Session.

Johnson also was questioned over his hiring and expenses. He left the organization in late June.

Gov. Rick Scott and the EFI board have since agreed to streamline operations of the 20-year-old agency, including eliminating jobs, closing international offices, and canceling contracts with outside consultants.

Connally asked fellow committee members to forward their top five preferred applicants by Wednesday or Thursday and scheduled another call for Friday.

His expectation was for a “face-to-face” interview with perhaps two top candidates.

The next president will be paid $175,000-$200,000 per year, down from Johnson’s salary of $265,000. The agency’s head also serves as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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