A House plan to eliminate the business-recruitment agency Enterprise Florida and relocate tourism-marketing efforts also would lead to a change in the name of the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
The House Appropriations Committee on Friday voted 19-7 to approve a bill (HB 5) that would do away with Enterprise Florida and change the name of the Department of Economic Opportunity to the Department of Commerce. The department, whose roles include administering unemployment benefits, was rebranded from the Agency for Workforce Innovation in 2011.
The bill would put the commerce secretary in charge of business-recruitment and expansion efforts, move the Visit Florida tourism-marketing agency and the Florida Sports Foundation under the department and eliminate the Office of Film and Entertainment. “This bill , in fact, eliminates Visit Florida,” Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, said.
“Maybe it allows it to enter into an agreement with DEO (the Department of Economic Opportunity). But currently, Visit Florida and the Florida Sports Foundation are our ambassadors around the country and around the world.” But bill sponsor Tiffany Esposito, R-Fort Myers, said Visit Florida and the Florida Sports Foundation are not going away, while dismissing calls to protect the Office of Film and Entertainment.
“Taxpayers do not need to foot the bill for Hollywood,” Esposito said. House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, has made a priority of eliminating Enterprise Florida. The issue is expected to be resolved during upcoming budget negotiations with the Senate.
“Enterprise Florida was supposed to be a public-private partnership. And in the last allocation, there was $14 million in state funding and $4 million in private funding. It was supposed to be a 50-50 match,” Esposito said. “So, not once has Enterprise Florida brought their side of the bargain up to match the public funding.”
Meanwhile Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced plans to lead an Enterprise Florida trade mission to Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom.
Parts of the trip, which will start next week, had been reported earlier. The delegation is expected to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, according to a news release from DeSantis’ office.
DeSantis [who is expected to announce a run for the presidency, and is looking to burnish his foreign policy profile, which is slim to non-existent] on April 27 is slated to deliver a keynote address at an event to mark Israel’s 75 years of independence. The delegation will include First Lady Casey DeSantis, Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Secretary of Commerce Laura DiBella, the head of Enterprise Florida.
–News Service of Florida