Gov. Rick Scott promotes VISIT FLORIDA, Enterprise Florida
Naples Daily News
February 13, 2017
Gov. Rick Scott met with Southwest Florida business leaders in Cape Coral on Monday to discuss the potential impact of a plan by the Florida House of Representatives to eliminate VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida from the state budget.
Brian Rist, owner of Fort Myers-based Storm Smart, was among those who joined Scott. Rist said he relies on Enterprise Florida to bring in business from outside the country. A House bill to close the agency would wipe out $3 million in international business, Rist said.
“I don’t think the people supporting this plan realize I can’t market like Enterprise Florida does internationally,” he said. “Would you ever think about cutting marketing out of your budget because you want to grow?
“Nobody would do that.”
Rist was joined by Lee County Hotel Association President Jeff Webb, who said VISIT FLORIDA uses taxpayer dollars to expose smaller hoteliers to visitors from around the world.
Rist and Webb were the latest additions to a list of businesses that oppose the House plan that would cut 23 incentive programs.
The bill cleared its first committee last week with a 10-5 vote after more than an hour of testimony from business owners who ranged from tour boat captains to restaurant owners and semitrailer dealers.
But what brought people to live in Lee and Collier counties will not insulate the region from tough times, said Eric Berglund, president of the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance.
“We don’t want to be in the position we were just a few years ago,” Berglund said.
“Those incentives they want to eliminate in this bill help us compensate for the areas where we may not be able to compete as well.”
Scott planned stops in Flagler Beach, in the district of the bill’s sponsor, Paul Renner, a Republican. He will make another stop Tuesday in Panama City, in the district of Rep. Jay Trumbull, another Republican who voted for the bill.