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Annual Report from DEO lists 2012 highlights, 2013 goals

Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity has released its annual report for 2012, its first full year of operation.

DEO, the job-creation agency created by Gov. Rick Scott in 2011, oversees much of the state’s economic development and workforce training initiatives.

Its annual report lists the highlights of Florida’s economy last year—falling unemployment, increased tourism and growing migration into the state.

The report also outlined strategies for achieving the goal of making Florida a national leader in “economic growth and prosperity,” and “economic competitiveness” for businesses.

The agency is looking to collaborate more effectively with local agencies, develop industry “clusters” in different parts of the state and push improvements in education, infrastructure and the regulatory environment.

The report, while embracing the glass-is-half-full economic positivism of Scott, acknowledged that Florida’s economy still has a number of troubles.

The unemployment rate continues to be higher than the national average, while job growth in Florida continues to lag the national rate. Additionally, there are issues with the state’s transportation infrastructure, water supply, energy consumption and regulations that hamper economic growth.

To tackle these and other issues, DEO came up with 20 objectives to implement over the next five years. They range from “increase film and entertainment productions” to improving “customer services to businesses seeking economic incentives.”

"With job creation as the primary focus, DEO intends to capitalize on the recovery and increase the number of jobs, businesses and tourists coming into the state," wrote Hunting Deutsch, who resigned as director of DEO in January. His replacement, the Scott administration's top lawyer Jesse Panuccio, will take over the reins of the agency on Monday, as the third director in 18 months.

The department’s recommendations, and full report, can be found here.