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House Speaker Paul Renner wants to eliminate Enterprise Florida

woman stands with arms crossed at the door of a business with an open sign
The vetoed bill would have allowed businesses to sue cities and counties if ordinances caused at least a 15 percent loss of profits.

Florida could be down at least one state agency by the time it’s annual lawmaking session is over. House Speaker Paul Renner, during his opening address to the chamber, called for an elimination of Enterprise Florida.

“Enterprise Florida has overpromised and under-delivered for years, and drains funds from higher priorities. If this were Washington D.C., it would live on forever…but the Florida way requires us to retain only what works and eliminate what does not.”

The public-private partnership agency was created in 1996 to grow the state’s private sector. But Renner says it’s outlived its usefulness. Speaking to reporters later, Renner said “the idea that it has delivered on its promises I think, in my opinion, is just not the case. Do we really need a separate board, with people who are there, or can we more streamline what we’re doing and really not waste taxpayer dollars.”

Enterprise Florida has run into lawmakers’ crosshairs before.

In 2017, then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran attempted to get rid of the agency, decrying what he viewed as “corporate welfare” and “de facto socialism.” The legislature ultimately negotiated when then-Gov. Rick Scott to keep Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida—but both agencies received less funding than they’d initially sought.

More recently, the Florida legislature has been steering business-recruitment money into the Job Growth Grant Fund, which was created after the fight with Scott. Lawmakers put $50 million into it last year; Gov. Ron DeSantis has requested to up the funding to $100 million. Enterprise Florida, meanwhile, received only $13 million from the legislature last year.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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