Enterprise Florida pushing for more money in the 2015-16 budget

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Chagrined at the levels of funding allocated in the proposed 2015-16 budget, Enterprise Florida held a conference call early Monday morning asking members of its executive committee to contact budget conferees and press for more money.

According to EFI staff there is $30 million in the Senate budget and $5 million for marketing for EFI and $25 million in the House budget with no money set aside for marketing.

That’s a drastic dip from Gov. Rick Scott‘s request for $85 million in his proposed budget for 2015-16, which was called “the right number.” In the current fiscal year budget EFI had $71 million, all of which is being spent, said President and Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Florida Bill Johnson.

In a teleconference call with his board of directors Johnson said that if the Legislature isn’t going to properly fund Enterprise Florida–the principal economic development organization fro the state–it might as well not exist.

“If we don’t have the resources, there’s no need to have an EFI,” he said.

Johnson was asking board members to contact legislators and impress upon them the need for additional money.

“This is the moment in the 11th hour,” he said, adding “we’re either going to be competitive, we’re going to be in the game, or not.”

The current levels of funding would leave the program without so- called “incentive” money in what is called the “governor’s closing fund”  July 1.  The dollars are used to lure businesses to enter the state. Johnson said there’s a 5:1 return on investment for each dollar used to incentivize new businesses to locate to the state.