Rick Scott highlights job growth, pushes for Enterprise Florida funding in Tampa

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

In a Tuesday announcement, Gov. Rick Scott trumpeted job numbers for a cloud-based business services company alongside calls for increased funding for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm.

“In February 2014, we announced the expansion of ConnectWise and their plan to create 112 new jobs,” Scott said in a news release. “Today, I am proud the company has hired 147 employees, well exceeding their goal. Enterprise Florida (EFI) has been instrumental in supporting companies like ConnectWise in Florida, and we must fund EFI so that we can remain competitive and create more jobs in our state.”

According to Department of Economic Opportunity records, the state entered into an incentives agreement with ConnectWise in 2014 that would pay the company up to $560,000 in state and local government money through the Qualified Target Industry program for 112 new jobs with an average annual wage of $47,581.

QTI incentives are granted to companies through tax credits for jobs that pay more than the average annual wage for the area. May 2014 data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics put the average wage for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area at $43,420 a year, which is about 10 percent less than the salary requirements for the ConnectWise jobs. Local governments are on the hook for 20 percent of the incentives money in QTI deals, or $112,000 in the ConnectWise deal.

QTI and other incentives are funded by the Legislature, which put about $43 million into incentives in the 2015-16 budget. The funding level amounts to half of the $85 million Scott asked for in the lead-up to the 2015 session and is a sharp decline from prior year funding.  Scott has been pushing for higher funding in recent months, noting in an August Enterprise Florida board meeting that the state would “not be able to get deals done going forward” without higher funding.

“We can’t always just rely on tourism and home sales and construction for our economy,” Scott said. “I don’t want to go through another recession where we lose 800,000 some jobs.”

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.