Governor Rick Scott made a quick stop in Oldsmar Monday to tout a tax break passed by the 2013 Florida Legislature.
Manufacturers will no longer pay sales tax on the equipment they buy.
"Having to pay that extra tax, it's only 6 percent, but it's a lot of money," said Mike Smith of BryCoat, Inc. while standing next to a $1 million vacuum chamber.
The tax on $1 million would be $60,000.
"The states up north have had this exemption, so every time we buy a piece of equipment we've got to pay an extra six percent that they don't," Smith said, claiming that in turn impacts competitive pricing.
Governor Scott made the same point while quickly highlighting other initiatives, such as enlarging Florida's east coast ports. Fewer than five percent of Florida's jobs are in manufacturing. That is less than half the national average.
"I don't know why we should be long term below the national average, especially with the expansion of the Panama Canal, the expansion of the economies of Latin America," Scott told reporters.
That dovetails with the Florida Manufacturers Association's ambition to export more goods.
"Ninety percent of the manufacturers I talk to want to export. Ten percent are," said association board member Dick Peck. "Why aren't they exporting, how do I find that sales rep? How I get my products sold, how do I do it?" he queried.
Scott said a public-private agency called Enterprise Florida will focus more on teaching manufacturers how to export their products.
With fewer than 50 employees, Brycoat typifies Pinellas County's manufacturing sector, which largely consists of smaller companies. Yet there are literally hundreds of them.
"We have 30,000 people working in manufacturing in Pinellas County every day, and the average wage is like $54,000," county economic developer Mike Midel recited. "We're already a significant manufacturer in aerospace, aviation, defense, medical devices, in electronics and communications equipment -- we're very strong."
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