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Mississippi’s F. Gray Swoope Jr. Is Scott’s Pick for Enterprise Florida

| February 28, 2011

Gray Swoope, right, at a BorgWarner plant in Mississippi. (North Mississippi Herald)

Gov. Rick Scott is hiring Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s economic development chief to take over leadership of Enterprise Florida.

Gray Swoope will head up the state business promotion agency, Scott’s office announced late Monday. Scott had been impressed by Swoope’s work in convincing major global companies such as Toyota, GE Aviation and ADP to build facilities in Mississippi.

“Bringing new energy and expertise to Florida’s economic development activities is an ideal task for which Gray Swoope is well suited,” Scott said. “I am excited to have him leading the job creation and economic development mission in Florida.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier Monday that Scott, in a letter to Enterprise Florida Vice Chairman Hal Melton recommending Swoope, said he is still planning to create a new agency similar to the old Department of Commerce that would oversee all economic development, community development and workforce training issues. In the letter, Scott also said he wanted the same person that heads up Enterprise Florida – now Swoope – to head the new economic development agency.

Scott fired previous Enterprise Florida President and CEO John Adams last month, saying he wanted to point the state’s economic development effort in a new direction. Adams had been in that role for five years.

Scott said that in addition to helping lure major companies to Mississippi, Swoope helped create a “measurable increase in jobs saved and/or created through expansions.”

Swoope, a native Mississippian, is credited with helping Tupelo, Miss., keep a Cooper Tire plant there when the company was consolidating operations, pushing the state to provide a $30 million incentive package. He also lured a truck engine manufacturer to Mississippi, and a new steel mini-mill.

Still, Swoope did come under some criticism in Mississippi from a couple of legislators who believed the major new employers weren’t being recruited to predominantly black and poor areas. One lawmaker there complained that because most economic development deals are kept secret from legislators, representatives of those areas rarely got to make a push to get those new jobs to their constituents.

An Associated Press story earlier this month reported that most large economic development projects approved in Mississippi since 2004 have been in northern Mississippi, including the Toyota plant in Blue Springs and the steel mill in Columbus. Swoope responded that typically, the needs of the company dictated the location, not local politics.

Before going to work for the state, Swoope was president of a local economic development agency based in Hattiesburg, Miss. He also has worked in economic development in Arkansas.

Like Florida officials, he has had to deal with economic factors arising out of hurricanes – Southern Mississippi was devastated by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina – and also had to deal with the economic fallout from last year’s BP oil spill, which had a major impact on Mississippi Gulf coast businesses.

Scott, who must sign a budget that cuts more than $3 billion from current year spending, also was impressed by Swoope’s ability to work efficiently. He cut the Mississippi agency’s budget by 26 percent over seven years, cutting its workforce by 15 percent.

–David Royce, News Service Florida

8 Responses for “Mississippi’s F. Gray Swoope Jr. Is Scott’s Pick for Enterprise Florida”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    What this really means is Governor I’m Not a Convicted Felon drams of higher, possibly national office. Nothing is for Nothing with these assholes. Why else would he be sucking up to Haley Barbour. You don’t really think he gives a rats behind about jobs for us do you?

  2. PC MAN says:

    It’s my hope that someday Florida will be an educational and economic superpower like Mississippi.

  3. Rob says:

    What I cannot figure out is why the city of Palm Coast continues to fund this private group.

    I know the mayor and town manager are part of the good ole boy Enterprise Flagler network but don’t the other councilors have a voice.

    The leadership of this town council is very much lacking. From what I read and see Frank Meeker is the only one who is trying to do something. One can do the right thing, wrong thing or nothing.

    I don’t know who will get my vote in this upcoming election, I do know which 2 won’t be getting it.

  4. palm coaster says:

    Does anyone believe that those foreign companies like Toyota in the Mississippi plant reinvest their revenues in the USA?… in our wildest dreams. Also can you tell what their non unionized workers produce now, with the latest fatal hidden flaws in the Toyota cars wether faulty engineering design or production? How many of us will ever go back to buy these cars?

    Then with these new GOP policies they invite new foreign investment that do not reinvest their revenue here and also underming the rights of workers to unionize to prevent abuse. Meanwhile our American big corporations settle overseas to satisfy their greed and profit from slavery wages to their labor and totally unmonitored pollution.
    All typical deregulation abuses promoted by conservatives. Invitation to multinationals to set plants in our land only promotes undermining of national American owned industry and our labor rights.

  5. Justice for All says:

    Does Bernie Ebbers and World Com ring anyone’s bell? Canadian businessman who created a company that was the second largest long distance telecommunication carrier which subsequently imploded. Until Bernie Madoff, this guy held the record for the largest fraud. World Com’s headquarters were based in……..Mississippi.

  6. palm coaster says:

    Thank you for the reminder Justice!

    Ebbers in in jail now, that I remember well.The problem is that as we are so busy trying to make a living, is not easy to keep tabs in all the Ponzi’s that conservative deregulation promotes, encourages, covers up and protects, to the detriment of our USA . As the article above highlights these foreign multinational settling here with all kinds of benefits paid by us, are totally deregulated when it comes to their internal policies as are not American owned companies.
    More or less like the Carnival and the rest of the Miami Arison’s cruise vessels they operate under foreign flag, then no taxes, no American laws enforcement/monitoring but…we the tax payers, have to provide free of charge to them, all the infrastructure on land (ports) and in water (coast guard) that makes them possible to operate to the fullest revenue potential available to them. No jobs created either as most their on board workers are foreigners with no unions, no benefits. Dream business!!
    Those as many more like, are the tourist revenues that Florida needs to receive not to fire public employees so we are provided the services we pay for. What Florida can learn from Mississippi with this man ? to have slaves in the future and a higher rate of poverty?

  7. Pat Mc says:

    Looks like a Governor looking out for his state. Good business sense to move Florida forward

  8. Jack says:

    Forget about Federal Government just for a minute! The Republicans have been in the driver’s seat in Florida for decades controlling the Governor’s mansion and a majority in the state legislature, yet they have produced nothing, nada, zilch! Does anyone see what’s wrong with that picture?

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