Rolling out part of his re-election platform, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday proposed offering a $10 million prize that would reward people who devise new technology to address challenges confronting Florida.
The Risk Taker Reward, funded through state and private dollars, was announced as Scott discussed parts of his platform dealing with small businesses and job creation. It came after Scott promised last week that, if re-elected, he’d spend $300 million during his second term for upgrades at most of the state’s 15 seaports.
Although few details were immediately available about how the entrepreneur contest would be administered, I know who the first winner should be: ride-sharing service Uber.
Actually, Uber is not eligible for the prize because it must go to a Florida-based entity, but Uber does meet the more important qualification of using private capital to successfully tackle an issue such as transportation and infrastructure.
Uber is primarily a smartphone app that connects passengers to luxury towncar drivers and has looked to gain traction in Florida, but the company’s ambitions have been stymied by state and local regulations. For now Uber is mostly stuck on the sidelines, allowed to operate only in Jacksonville.
At issue is local regulations on the limo business, with rules such as base fares and minimum wait times throughout cities like Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
And therein lies the irony of today’s announcement by Governor Scott.
Even if some bold entrepreneur did devise the next Uber, would the Florida Legislature block its entry into the Florida market? If what happened to Uber this past legislative session is any indication, the answer, unfortunately, is ‘Yes.’
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.