Enterprise Florida - New Watchdog Report Asserts Corruption, Enterprise Florida Suggests Report is Flawed and Misleading: Florida's Economy Doesn't Need These Hijinks.
Real estate developers and investors both in Florida and around the world are aware of Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI). Enterprise Florida has offices all over the world (there's a map on their site if you're interested) all working to better Florida's economic future.
Enterprise Florida Inc. Designed to Facilitate a Growing Florida Economy Through Coordinated Efforts
Enterprise Florida is not a totally private corporation nor is it another government agency; instead, it's a combination of both private and public efforts working together in a quasi-private organization. From EFI's website, EFI's mission is:
"... [t]o facilitate job growth for Florida's businesses and citizens leading to a vibrant statewide economy. EFI accomplishes this mission by focusing on a wide range of industry sectors, including clean energy, life sciences, information technology, aviation/aerospace, homeland security/defense, financial/professional services, manufacturing and beyond. In collaboration with a statewide network of regional and local economic development organizations, EFI helps to improve Florida's business climate, ensuring the state's global competitiveness.
Enterprise Florida is committed to assisting companies confidentially with their expansion and location plans. We provide site selection services, demographic information, incentive information, trade leads and much more. We also coordinate introductions to our network of economic development partners located throughout the state.
Enterprise Florida works hard to bring foreign investment and international business to Florida - which is especially vital to our current economy. EF boasts to all sorts of global business interests about why they should be doing business here in Florida - for just one example, read their downloadable pdf entitled "Why Florida? Top 10 Reasons."
Which is why the recent Watchdog Report suggesting corruption at Enterprise Florida is getting so much attention.
Integrity Florida has issued a 24 page report - available for free download here - that suggests that not everything is on the up and up at Enterprise Florida. Who is Integrity Florida? According to its site, it is "a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption."
From the Orlando Sentinel we know that Integrity Florida is run by the former state director of Common Cause, Ben Wilcox, and the ex-communications director of the Florida Chamber, Dan Krassner. Also from the Orlando Sentinel, we know that the Integrity Florida report is not based upon its own independent efforts, but instead pulls information from a review done by The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International, as well as various news stories that have been reported in the Florida news media.
What does the Integrity Florida report have to say about Enterprise Florida?
According to its “Corruption Risk report” there are both conflicts of interest at EFI as well as operations being done without public access to their workings - some board meetings didn't get proper notice, some contracts have been awarded with "secret project code-names" and Integrity Florida promises that its going to work hard to find out what those secret codes mean. (Since they're not doing their own research, we can assume they are depending upon journalists to do this?)
What does Enterprise Florida have to say about the Integrity Florida report?
“My chief marketing officer, Melissa Medley, and I readily accepted a request from Mr. Krassner to meet and discuss the concerns he has been promoting regarding Enterprise Florida. We feel it is our obligation to do so with any concerned citizen. The meeting concluded with our clarifying, explaining and correcting Mr. Krassner’s points about whether Enterprise Florida has been transparent in its business practices. In a time where there is fierce competition for jobs, we made it clear to him and his research director, Ben Wilcox, that we do not agree with Mr. Krassner’s approach of releasing half-truths to inflame emotions. He is misleading Florida’s citizens by disseminating misinformation and misrepresentations of our organization, our mission and our work each day.
“I expect and require our organization to follow the law and make sure there is a fiduciary responsibility to the Florida taxpayer. The position piece he presented this morning fails to reflect the outcome of our discussion and the specific points that we clarified and to which he appeared to understand and agree. As a result, we now look forward to clarifying, once again, Enterprise Florida’s business practices, transparent approach and the state’s economic development process. And, at the same time our EFI team will continue to work every day with the passion and dedication to foster job creation for our citizens.”
If there's been evildoing at Enterprise Florida, then we all need to know it and it needs to be corrected. However, if there's been fingerpointing at this organization that is either premature, incomplete, or scewed, then we need to know that, too. Something's rotten in Denmark somewhere.
Florida's economy is in serious trouble and we don't need these hijinks.