Bill Johnson, Miami-Dade’s longtime port director and current head of water and sewer, may be in the running to take over Florida’s economic-development arm.
Johnson is "under consideration" by Gov. Rick Scott to replace Gray Swoope as head of Enterprise Florida, the state’s tax-funded economic-development agency, according to a county source.
It wasn’t known Thursday how many other candidates may be on Scott’s list, or whether the governor had already offered someone the job. Scott praised Swoope in a statement this week that announced his resignation after four years from the $275,000-a-year post.
Johnson is said to have formed a good relationship with Scott through the push to build the largely state-funded PortMiami tunnel. Johnson also traveled the world promoting cargo business in Miami, Florida’s top port.
He signed up for the county’s mandatory retirement system five years ago, so his tenure with Miami-Dade is slated to end in June. County records show his position at the water-and-sewer department pays about $275,000 a year.
On Thursday, Johnson declined to comment on the Enterprise Florida post. (“I don’t ever discount anything,” he said when asked about the job.) But he talked at length about his tenure at both PortMiami and Water and Sewer, and on his abilities as a leader.
“I have been paid over my career.. to solve problems, to motivate people,” said Johnson, a veteran county administrator. “Government will be successful when you can take all the good attributes of government and the private sector, and you can blend the two.”
In Miami-Dade, he gained a reputation as a manager who took on troubled projects, including the long-delayed construction of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. But he also presided over financial stress at PortMiami, with the tunnel and other construction projects leading to a debt load approaching $1 billion and a credit downgrade.