Saturday, March 11, 2017


Stuart Korfhage, Record development reporter, is incapable of critical thinking and spews developer handouts.
So: World's second largest arms merchant required $2,999,000 "incentive" to expand a spy plane factory here?

Not disclosed in asinine article: The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce offices are in the St. Augustine Record Building. Methinks Stuart Korfhage should go back to writing sports articles. He's essentially a cheerleader.

The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce supported anti-artist laws that resulted in arrests of visual artists and musicians. The Chamber of Commerce is camouflage for the billionaire class. It is a tiny, dodgy subsidiary of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, a bumptious international Big Business lobby group that has opposed every progressive law since the New Deal, including worker health and safety, labor, whistleblower and environmental protection laws.

As Gary Hart once said, "You won't get the government off your back until you get your hands out of its pockets!"
Kudos to Reps. Paul Renner and Cyndi Stevenson for their work to shut down Enterprise Florida, a secretive organization that subsidizes oligopolists like Northrop Grumman.

Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT speaks at Northrop Grumman airplane integration center dedication, taking credit as usual, accompanied by then Senator JOHN THRASHER (now FSU President) and Sixth Congressional District Rep. RONALD DEON DeSANTIS (R-KOCH INDUSTRIES).

Posted March 11, 2017 04:34 am - Updated March 11, 2017 05:40 am
What would loss of ‘Enterprise’ mean to St. Johns County?

Three years ago, Gov. Rick Scott came to St. Augustine, stood in front on an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft at Northrop Grumman’s factory here, crowing about the defense contractor’s $102 million in capital investment in the area.

That investment, which was also estimated to add 400 jobs in St. Augustine, came about, in part, through a partnership with Enterprise Florida and a $2.99-million economic development grant from the St. Johns County Commission.

On Friday, legislators in Tallahassee passed HB 7005 that would eliminate Enterprise Florida. Bill sponsor Rep. Paul Renner and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, St. Johns County’s representatives, both voted in favor of the bill. Also, HB 9 — a bill sponsored by Renner — was passed. The bill would place new restrictions on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

How the potential loss of Enterprise Florida will affect St. Johns County’s ability to land commercial investment like Northrop Grumman’s expansion project is unclear.

Isabelle Rodriguez, president of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, said her organization is concerned that losing Enterprise Florida could have a detrimental effect.

“Access to marketing intelligence and workforce services for local economic development agencies and businesses has a direct impact on local business expansion and relocation,” Rodriguez said in an email to The Record. “Tools for business recruitment are critical to ensure Florida stays competitive.

“Eliminating these services would affect our state and local communities negatively. For these reasons, the scope of work and mission of Enterprise Florida should remain an important state priority.”

Melissa Glasgow, St. Johns County’s director of economic development, said that no matter what the state ultimately decides — the Senate must still act on the proposal — all previous deals will remain valid.

“If incentives were ultimately eliminated on a state level, any local projects with existing state incentive agreements in place such as Northrop Grumman and Advanced Disposal would be honored until they reach completion,” Glasgow said in an email to The Record.

Going forward, she said the county will be able to offer businesses that invest some tax incentives based on a formula created by the county.

“Our local Business Incentive Program is approved by the Board of County Commissioners and is separate from Enterprise Florida’s incentive program,” Glasgow said. “If EFI were no longer in existence, it would not affect our ability to support qualified businesses with performance-based incentives on a local level. In fact, Department of Economic Opportunity is the agency that ultimately approves incentive projects.”

The governor remained steadfast in his belief that Enterprise Florida is good for the state.

“Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism,” Scott said in a statement. “But, I want to be very clear — a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida.”

Scott has praised the work of Enterprise Florida for bringing big employers to the state or convincing current businesses to expand, like Northrop Grumman.

In addition to the expansion in St. Augustine, Northrop Grumman broke ground on a new 220,000-square-foot building at its Melbourne facility about three years ago and announced that it was creating another 1,000 jobs there.

“We’re extremely appreciative of the strong relationships we have with the state of Florida, EFI and the local communities where we work and live,” Northrop Grumman public relations specialist Jacqueline Jeransky said in an email to The Record on Thursday.

“Support via these partnerships has been vital in making the decision to continue to invest and grow in Florida.”

Stevenson said her responsibility is to the taxpayers of the state in explaining her decision to vote for HB 7005. She said both the governor and the Legislature have done things that make business better for the state and that it will continue to thrive.

“I don’t think the House is any less committed to economic development and job opportunities and making sure Florida is competitive,” she said. “I think the governor cares about jobs. I think the House cares about jobs. I think the Senate cares about jobs and the economy.

“I think the question that we will be answering is: How do we do the best we can with the limited resources we have to make Florida the best place to live, work and play?”

Renner has said that the Legislature’s job is to make economic growth possible through its business-friendly policies, benefiting all entrepreneurs equally rather than having Enterprise Florida choose which companies get benefits.

“We are doing things right,” Renner said during discussion of the bill on Thursday. “The governor and this Legislature deserve credit for moving us in the right direction toward a level playing field, a fertile area where everyone can benefit.

“What this bill accomplishes is putting us back on the path to fundamental principles that have made us an economic superpower and that grows jobs.”


Wayne (mach) Hoyle
About time. The only benefit I've seen by the money has been more development and money funneled into the tourist industry, thereby creating more noise and traffic for the rest of us. Not to mention increased taxes and fees for everything from parking to beach access. Good riddance.

Jack (sponger) Harvell
How many manufacturing jobs in relation to the population have been created with Enterprise in St. Johns County? In 1995 there were about 80,000 people living here. Grumman, Tensolite, Ideal, VAW, Luhrs and other "middle class jobs" were a much greater proportion of the job demographic than they are now.

The T.D.C. and other entities touting to "put us on the map" succeeded only in pricing local people out of the area, build a wealthy bedroom community for Jacksonville (which is a swill pit) increased crime (four murders in the last week) decreased quality of life, deprived us of our own downtown without paying to "play" where we live, and like mach said, "increased noise and traffic".

Now if we can make the T.D.C. die a quiet death and fire Little John Engineering, we might actually save what little is left, but don't count on it. The Bailey group, developers, and real estate interests have turned their eyes towards us, and they are a powerful foe. Plus they own the county commission. Just check the Vicky Oats website to see where their campaign contributions come from. Only the Lowe's candidate (Jerry Cameron) was defeated, despite being backed by big money from in and outside the county. And lets not forget the sales tax swindle in an off cycle election year and how many schools we are still behind while the stamp of zoning change and P.U.D. approvals continue unabated.

Joe Potosky
All those against....

State will do almost anything to attract companies, as jobs is the end game.

Think about it the next time you see the New York State commercial touting the state and business initiatives it offers.

Special One
Look at Colorado, people actually getting tax money back, there is a surplus! School funding no problem either, why? They legalized weed. Crime and weed use have dropped.
Eventually the idiots who run this state / county will come to their senses and do the same thing in Florida and the cash will start rolling in. It's sick how Alcohol and OxyContin's are legal, yet are ruining many, many lives! Most cops prefer people on weed, they never cause any problems.

Special One
John Morgan for Governor!

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