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State News

Top state officials unveil new state agency

By Regan McCarthy

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-989007.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – A new Florida agency is officially open for business. Regan McCarthy reports the Department of Economic Opportunity combines the agency for workforce innovation and the governor's economic development and tourism departments into one.

Florida Governor Rick Scott cut the ribbon in the opening ceremony of the new department Scott says will take the lead in bringing jobs to the state. The Department of Economic Opportunity is charged with developing jobs and economic growth in the state. Much of its focus will be on facilitating public and private partnerships. Scott says job creation is one of the biggest challenges the state faces.

"This change and the streamlining of this, this is going to make it happen. You know if you look at you can take each part of it."

For example Scott says tourism has increased by 7-percent this year. But he says the state is also changing its image, saying people no longer think of Florida as just a place to retire, but also as a great place to move businesses. Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll says this agency answers the promise she and the governor campaigned on of streamlining government to increase jobs.

"This is all in the direction of jobs, jobs, jobs in that it streamlines government and it brings all the entities together in one place to focus on building the economy on the private sector side so that jobs can grow and be long and sustainable for the state."

Carroll says as Space Florida chairwoman she will be working closely with the new department. She envisions partnering with the Department to grow high tech jobs in that sector. Critics worry department officials don't have enough practical experience to bring the growth Scott is hoping for.