Economic development agency sees salaries climb

Enterprise Florida clamored for cash from legislature, was mostly denied

TALLHASSEE, Fla. – The state’s economic development agency, Enterprise Florida, clamored for cash this year from the legislature, but was mostly denied.

While Florida Gov. Rick Scott lobbied hard for the extra cash, the agency’s executives saw their salaries continue to climb.

Scott fought hard for $250 million of economic incentive cash for Enterprise Florida -- a public-private partnership used for economic development.

"We've got to continue putting money into Enterprise Florida," Scott said in February.

The legislature didn't agree. The agency got 23 and a half million from the budget that took effect July 1.

But while Enterprise Florida said it needed more cash, the agency's executives saw their salaries going up. Executive salaries went from a little nearly $800,500 to $1.4 million over the past six years.

Ben Wilcox, of Integrity Florida, has consistently questioned whether Floridians were getting a good return on investment.

"Enterprise Florida is funded 90 percent by Florida taxpayers," Wilcox said. "They seem to think that they get to play by a different set of rules than other taxpayer funded entities."

Enterprise Florida's board voted last week to lay off 12 people and eliminate another 12 positions in a cost-cutting measure.

The agency said it needs to cut $6 million. The governor told the board last week it's because the legislature didn't properly fund them. Critics in the legislature compared the funding to corporate welfare.

Integrity Florida said the agency needs more oversight.

"We see a lot of promises of jobs that are being created, but a lot of times those jobs never materialize," Wilcox said.

Enterprise Florida will also be closing four international offices in an effort to save money

Enterprise Florida was reached Tuesday for comment, but it has not yet returned messages.