Saturday, December 27, 2014

There Are Ways to Promote Florida's "Business Climate" ...

... and then there are ways to just piss away tax revenues -- ways which harm, rather than help, that "business climate."  From this morning's Naples, Florida Daily News (hat tip -- @sayfiereview):

State economic development officials are again seeking a pot of money to create a brand for Florida's big-money business recruitment efforts.

The plan is being spearheaded by the Department of Economic Opportunity, which wants $5 million to promote "Florida as a prime business location, and branding the state as such," according to a department funding request.


The state currently has seven programs that offer things like tax credits, tax refunds, and cash grants to recruit businesses from other states and incentive [sic] business expansion.

The way to promote "business climate" is to keep taxes low and red tape to a minimum.

Florida has no state income tax, its property taxes are lower than most other states with no income tax (Texas, for example) and its sales taxes are lower than most other states with no income tax (Nevada, for example). I'm also given to believe that in most parts of the state (relevant for interstate businesses, rather than locally-focused ones, e.g. a bar in Miami or a restaurant in Orlando), real estate prices are pretty attractive.

I don't really have a fix on the "bureaucratic obstacles to doing business" angle, but I will say that in Alachua County I see a lot of "pop up on the roadside" businesses covering everything from produce to guitars to recurring "yard sales" to food trucks/stands. So my SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess) is that the whole business licensing thing is relatively non-intrusive as well.

And what about real climate? Here's a hint: Nobody ever calls in to work and says they're snowed in in Florida. The roads are never closed to commercial trucking due to dangerous ice. And there are plenty of highway and rail links running up and down the state for bringing materials in and shipping goods out. Plenty of airports, too. Oh, and 11 port cities.

If I was starting up (or looking to relocate) a business, especially one that sells by mail/delivery around the country, Florida would be high on (probably first on) my list of places to check out. And not only would I not consider "tax credits, tax refunds, and cash grants" necessary inducements, I'd oppose them. Because once I'd used them, I'd end up getting tapped to pay for them for other businesses, including my own competition.

I guess five million bucks to run commercials about how great Florida is won't break the bank or anything, but why bother? Smart business people know how to do math. Unless they have an overriding reason to relocate in some money-sucking hell-hole like California, Florida's got to be at or near the top of their lists already.

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