Gov. Rick Scott celebrates new Tampa business, unemployment still up listen08/17/12 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:
Despite a jump in state unemployment last month, Governor Rick Scott announced 190 new jobs in Tampa this morning. The company StreetLinks moved to the Sunshine State because Florida offered them the best incentives.
Governor Scott considers himself the jobs governor. So when a company decides to move from Indiana to Florida he uses it to promote policies some people call corporate welfare.
â€œWeâ€™ve reduced business taxes, weâ€™ve reduced property tax, business tax. We have a low business tax as we all know, no income tax â€“ weâ€™re a right to work state â€“ but weâ€™ve reduced the business tax for two thirds of the companies that were paying it 18-months ago. Weâ€™ve cut property taxes over $200 million. Weâ€™ve cut out 1700 state regulations.â€
StreetLinks is contracted by companies in the lending industry to help with appraisals and loan servicing. Florida Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope said mortgage and banking companies were hit hardest when the economy tanked.
â€œWe are the third largest state in number of jobs in financial services and as you know, that sector was hit pretty hard in 2008. Weâ€™re seeing it come back, but weâ€™re seeing companies make choices in where it comes back. Do they choose in our state? Do they choose Tampa? Do they choose Hillsborough County or do they choose a location in the mid-west or the northeast?
StreetLinks moved to Florida last year because the state offered what they call a more business-friendly environment than their former base in Indianapolis. The company didnâ€™t release specifics on what exactly made Tampa so attractive, but Swoope credited the financial sectorâ€™s revival in Florida to Governor Scott.
â€œGovernor Scott, in removing job-killing rules and regulations, is making and helping this sector come back.â€
Even when WMNF asked about the tax incentives, StreetLinks wouldnâ€™t say how much they were. Leslie Rubin, an economic incentives strategist who helped the company negotiate the move, said whatever tax incentives StreetLinks received wasnâ€™t the entire basis for their decision.
â€œIt will influence a decision; it will not make the decision. Labor force, location, those are still primary in any corporate culture when theyâ€™re doing site location analysis. So when you look at a situation, what did it do? It helps them look at a faster return on investment.â€
StreetLinks opened a 77,000 square foot office in NetPark Tampa Bay on East Hillsborough Avenue. The 190 jobs the company provides for Tampa Bay area residents are mostly customer service-oriented positions. They pay anywhere from 13.50 to 19.50 an hour. But Steve Haslam, the companyâ€™s chief executive officer, said many of those new employees will be promoted within the company.
â€œThere is not one manager, team lead or executive in StreetLinks that didnâ€™t start on the front lines of this company. The people that we have in leadership positions were either the original owners of a very small company when we bought it and everyone else when you walk through our facilities that is in any form of management position started at the front line of this company. We have people that started here at $13.50 an hour that make 50, 60, 70 thousands dollars and more.â€
And Haslam said he expects 300 more jobs to open in the coming years as the company continues to expand.
â€œAnd weâ€™ve grown from literally no clients in January of 2009 â€“ we had no clients because we blew up an old business model and we started over and today we have about 500 major clients that have over 2,000 lending locations across the country.â€
Amid news that companies are slowly but surely trickling into the state, Republican Governor Scott continues to be optimistic about Floridaâ€™s job growth. Thatâ€™s landed him in the hot seat with his own party that argues his positive spin on Floridaâ€™s economic growth could help President Barack Obama win Floridaâ€™s 29 electoral votes in November.
â€œBut you know what, we need a federal partner. We canâ€™t have the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. We canâ€™t have more regulation than the rest of the world. We canâ€™t have an anti-business attitude and expect for jobs to flock to America. So, while weâ€™re doing the right things in Florida we need a federal partner thatâ€™s going to reduce taxes, reduce regulations, streamline the permitting process and make decisions faster.â€
Scott has said he will continue to push business friendly policies in order to reach his goal of creating 700,000 more jobs in Florida.
â€œEven though unemploymentâ€™s come down, even though weâ€™ve generated a lot of jobs in the last 18-months, we still have almost 800,000 people out of work â€“ weâ€™ll see what the numbers are again at 10 oâ€™clock. So, thereâ€™s still a lot of work to do.â€
When the July jobs report came in this morning, it actually showed that Floridaâ€™s unemployment rate had risen for the first time in months from 8.6% to 8.8%. Thatâ€™s higher than the national average of 8.3%.