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Governor Scott Battles To Save Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida

Carson Frame

Governor Rick Scott’s campaign to save the Visit Florida tourism marketing agency and Enterprise Florida’s business incentive program came to Tampa Monday. A House committee voted to eliminate both of the public-private partnerships last week.

Visit Florida came under fire late last year for transparency issues with its contracts.

At the meeting, Governor Scott addressed Florida business owners, economic development leaders and community members. He touted Florida's positive job creation numbers in 2016 and the overall impact of tourism on the state.

Scott told attendees that he was shocked by Representative Shawn Harrison's vote to eliminate Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida in light of those numbers. 

"If we didn't get the tax revenue statewide from tourists that we get, all of our taxes per household would have to go up $1500," Scott said. "We wouldn't have record funding for USF. We wouldn't have record funding for K-12, state colleges and universities. So this is a significant issue."

Governor Scott also defended Enterprise Florida, which offers incentives to businesses that create new jobs.  Scott said that Enterprise Florida has a system in place to ensure that the state gets a return on its business investments. 

"We won't put the money out for Enterprise Florida unless we get the jobs," Scott said. "And if you create jobs, I know exactly what we'll get back in state revenues. Either in sales tax or, if you build something, what we'll get back in property taxes. We have to get five times our money back or we don't do the deal."

At the end of January, the governor unveiled a budget plan that asks for $85 million in funding for Enterprise Florida and $76 million for Visit Florida, the state's tourism promotion arm.
Scott estimates that Florida will have 110-115 million tourists in 2017.