Scott: Recreate Department of Commerce

By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida
By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida


Saying the state must streamline or perish, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday told business leaders he wants to resurrect a Department of Commerce under his control that would coordinate economic development efforts from an office “two doors down” from his own.

Speaking to board members at Enterprise Florida’s annual meeting, Scott told the group that businesses now face a labyrinth of agencies when they consider relocating to the state, duplicity of effort that Scott says is costing jobs and has to stop.

“When you don’t have one person looking over everything, it makes it more difficult to get things done,” Scott told reporters after his appearance before the board. “I’ll have a hard time holding somebody accountable for this if I don’t have a person responsible for it.”

The department was abolished in 1996 at the behest of then-Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Scott envisions a department run by a secretary appointed by the governor who would be responsible for taking the lead and coordinating efforts from Enterprise Florida, the Agency for Workforce Development and the Office of Tourism Trade and Economic Development (OTTED).

Scott’s proposal brought immediate kudos by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida, which said they were encouraged by Scott’s aggressive assertions that his office would be responsible for coordinating efforts to get companies to do business in Florida.

“What I heard from the governor is that he is going to say is “I - Rick Scott - I’m responsible for job creation and I’m going to bring this into my that everyone knows who to call for job creation,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Business leaders have long complained Florida is losing business to other states because of the state’s cumbersome permitting process and a redundancy of effort between competing agencies.

“The fact that Gov. Scott will be so engaged in this new agency, to the point where it will be elevated to ‘Plaza Level’ status, is more than encouraging,” AIF President Barney Bishop said in a statement. “It’s the promise of a new day when Floridians aren’t looking for work, but actually getting to work. “

Lawmakers in 1996 abolished the Department of Commerce, which critics argued had become a political chit that had become ineffective in enticing business into the state. The department’s functions were divided up among a group of other agencies including OTTED, Enterprise Florida and more recently other groups including Space Florida.

Jeb Bush, before he was governor, was secretary of the agency under former Gov. Bob Martinez.

Scott said he envisions a commerce department that would have control over economic development funding, including tax incentives and rebates now appropriated by the Legislature. He said details of his proposal would accompany the release of his budget request on Feb. 7.

“I’ve been calling companies since the second of November,” Scott said. “People want to do business in Florida. We need to make that easier.”

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  • by Pete Zahut on Jan 28, 2011 at 01:22 PM
    "This bald headed idiot" - HEY - don't pick on the idiot because he's bald! I have to take part of what I just wrote back - Scott is not an "idiot". He's a very clever CRIMINAL who fooled a lot of idiots into voting for him.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 12:50 PM
    Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:16 AM, What jobs?
  • by Read Between the Lines Location: TLH on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM
    The kicker there - "...appointed by the Governor." NOT the Governor AND the Cabinet collegially. Is nobody else seeing Scott's repeated blatant attempts at power grabbing? He made all these promises, then he found that the Governor doesn't have as much power as he thought, so now he's trying to restructure it so he can do what he wants. Checks and balances...they aren't bad things.
  • by Larger government? on Jan 28, 2011 at 10:07 AM
    I thought he campaigned against a larger government. Now he wants to re-create some of it.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 08:16 AM
    This bald headed idiot is costing people jobs.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 08:08 AM
    Wow! Whoda thunk Mr. Scott would want to CREATE a new department? Not me, that is fo sho.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 28, 2011 at 08:06 AM
    @watching - What are you rambling on about? Geez.
  • by watching Location: Florida destruction on Jan 28, 2011 at 07:34 AM
    People have been warned that Scott wants to be the "all controlling governor"(which for some will be good and for many a bad thing). I doubt if the Legislature will like him having the power to grant tax deferments and making large sum expenditures to select groups without the Legislature having any oversite. Thanks for reminding us that Jeb used to be Secretary of the Commerce Department. Did it become ineffectual under his administration? So why didn`t Crist and the Legislature do something about this for the past 8 years? See folks, you can`t always blame Democrats for the financial problems this state has.
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