Keeping an Eye on Tallahassee
A recent headline from the Sunshine State News read: “House Appropriations Dooms Enterprise Florida, Guts Visit Florida, as Expected.” The lead in this story went on to state: “The House Appropriations Committee voted 18-12 Tuesday to advance a measure that 1) eliminated Florida’s 21-year-old economic agency and 2) emasculates its tourism marketing arm.”
Why should we be concerned about this? According to Carolyn Johnson with the Florida Chamber, the bill would end economic diversification efforts on Florida, including eliminating the economic development toolkit, international programs, marketing, and small business assistance. Additionally, the bill cuts tourism marketing funding by 67 percent.
Again, I ask the question why should we be worried about this? Is this something the State should be involved with or should they just stay out of the way? Is this nothing more than a corporate welfare program that just benefits the few?
My opinion is yes, this is something that we need to be concerned about. Forever, we have talked about trying to diversify the economy in Florida, and we are in a dog-eat-dog fight with other states, such as Texas, Alabama, Georgia, California, and New York to attract those new businesses to diversify our economy. If we eliminate Enterprise Florida, we deny ourselves the use of an effective tool to compete on the national and international stage to recruit new industry to our State.
Likewise, the cuts to Visit Florida will have a negative impact on our economy. The local tourist development agencies don’t have the same marketing power as Visit Florida, and it is imperative in the competitive vacation market to be able to use that marketing power to reach potential visitors to Florida.
Some may argue that Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida made mistakes, and they should be defunded. Okay, if they did, let’s fix those mistakes, but it would be better to use a scalpel to carve them out rather than using an axe to chop them off.
Let your legislators know what you think, and I hope you will encourage them to support Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.
Destin Water Users, Inc.
2017 Destin Chamber Chairman of the Board