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Enterprise Florida’s request for more tax breaks draws ire

In previous posts, when we have written about a new business coming to Orlando or a new development underway, we have touched on the economic incentives the state of Florida has provided for the project.

Public-sector economic incentives for private-sector development are a controversial issue. Florida is one of the most liberal states in the U.S. when it comes to handing out such incentives, and now Enterprise Florida, its public-private job development body, is facing some criticism over its generous nature.

What has drawn the criticism this time is Enterprise Florida’s call to increase economic incentives from $111 million last year to $278 million this year. It also wants $3 million for a new branding and public-awareness campaign, a $10 million “bonus” for itself and permission to open offices in Japan, China and Israel.

Several lawmakers have said that ever since Enterprise Florida’s wish list was made public, they have been “flooded” with constituent feedback on the issue (not all of which, we ought to point out, has necessarily been negative.)

Elected officials and prominent businessmen and women have also cast a critical eye on how much of Florida’s tax incentives have gone to Universal Studios, a firmly well-established business entity that arguably does not need assistance. Many have said they thought the point of a tax-incentive program was to help small businesses, not entertainment industry behemoths.

We wanted to write about this because we believe that a robust, well-informed discussion in which government, business and private citizen voices are engaged is a positive thing for our state. If you have any thoughts, we’d love it if you shared them with us in the comments section below.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel, “Enterprise Florida tries to fight off incentive critics,” Aaron Deslatte, Feb. 14, 2013

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