Lawmakers: not so fast with the corporate cash - FOX 13 News

Lawmakers: not so fast with the corporate cash

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

State lawmakers say they will ask tough questions about the state's strategy to create new jobs through incentives. Florida offers up-front money to businesses in that promise new jobs.

Governor Scott and other supporters of our incentive strategy say it helps attract new businesses to our state and is fueling our recovery. But critics point to cases where companies did not deliver on promises and in some cases shut down after receiving state money.

Last year, a software company called Redpine Services closed its office in Bay County after accepting $400,000 from the state. This year, an animation production company called Digital Domain closed in South Florida after receiving a $20 million grant. Companies that don't deliver are supposed to repay state incentives. But it's hard to collect when companies shut down.

We don't know exactly how many current deals are going, because the state keeps them secret in the early stages.

Governor Scott says bad deals are the exception. Offering incentives for the promise of jobs is a key part of an economic development strategy. The governor's department of economic opportunity is now requesting $105 million in economic development tools in the next legislative budget. That request triggered some pushback from lawmakers who have questions about the effectiveness of our incentive program thus far. Lawmakers from both parties say want to make sure we get a good return on our money.

Some like Pinellas State Senator Jack Latvala say we should also consider other job creation strategies that ensure our workforce is trained for local job openings.

"We have employers in my district who will hire any welder they can find, but they can't find welders," said Latvala. "I have other employers who want to hire Java programmers. But there's not a state institution that's turning out Java programmers."

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