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Search narrows for next president of Enterprise Florida

in Statewide by

The search for the next leader of Enterprise Florida is down to two candidates, after a third candidate withdrew.

Michael Finney, former president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., has taken his name out of contention, according to Michael Grissom, spokesman for Enterprise Florida.

Instead, Finney has indicated he will seek a teaching position at the University of Michigan, Grissom said.

The Michigan agency is the equivalent of Enterprise Florida — the state’s economic development organ.

Finney had been ranked as first choice of a search committee.

Richard M. Biter, a retired assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, had been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 by three of the six search committee members.

Gov. Rick Scott was to interview Biter Monday, according to the governor’s daily schedule.

Also in contention is Chris Hart, president and chief executive officer of CareerSource Florida, which operates workforce development boards and career centers throughout the state.

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

It’s not clear there will be an agency to run. Enterprise Florida and jobs growth are major priorities for Gov. Rick Scott, but House Speaker Richard Corcoran has called spending taxpayer money for jobs development “a bad idea.”

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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