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Gov. Rick Scott signs bill creating new state agency

The bill, SB 2156, creates the Department of Economic Opportunity and was a priority of Scott's.

The new agency, which is not quite as big as Scott was hoping, will house the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the governor's Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development and parts of the Department of Community Affairs. It will be run by Gray Swoope, the head of Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership that contract with Visit Florida.

Scott signed the bill today in Orlando, where he is attending Enterprise Florida meetings. Here is the press release:

Orlando, Fla. – In keeping his promise to streamline government, eliminate wasteful inefficiencies and grow Florida’s economy, Governor Rick Scott today signed into law Senate Bill 2156 that allows a more unified approach and rapid response to job creation by consolidating the state’s economic development functions into the Department of Economic Opportunity. The bill also designates the president of Enterprise Florida, Gray Swoope, as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce.

Governor Scott signed the bill while meeting with Enterprise Florida business leaders in Orlando today. During the group’s January meeting, Governor Scott called on the Legislature to strengthen the state’s economic development public-private partnerships by bringing together the state’s economic development efforts and creating a single point of contact for businesses interested in relocating to Florida.

“In today’s globally competitive marketplace, Florida must be able to respond quickly and decisively when business opportunities come our way.  The bill I signed today provides us flexibility to seize opportunities created by developing markets and effectively respond to the changing needs of the businesses that grow our economy.”

The bill enhances the state’s ability to quickly react to business development opportunities in two ways.  It cuts to 10 days the required time to approve or deny requests for state incentive funds; currently, this process can take up to 42 days.  In addition, the Governor is authorized to approve incentive awards under $2 million without legislative approval or consultation, and for awards from $2 million to $5 million, the Governor must simply notify the chairs and vice chairs of the Legislative Budget Commission (LBC). Awards that exceed $5 million require LBC approval.

“Since I took office in January, Florida’s unemployment rate has declined each month while the national unemployment continues to rise as a result of failed leadership on the federal level,” Governor Scott said. “Here in Florida, we are seeing signs of improvement because we are moving in the right direction to make Florida the No. 1 place to do business.”