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Enterprise Florida awaits direction under DeSantis

Ron DeSantis, center, thanks supporters with his wife Casey, left, at an election party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Ron DeSantis, center, thanks supporters with his wife Casey, left, at an election party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Associated Press)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Business development leaders remain unsure of the direction of Enterprise Florida as the state prepares for a new governor.

Joe York, vice chairman of the board of the public-private agency, said during a meeting Wednesday in Orlando that he hopes to hear in the next 30 to 45 days where Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis “wants to take us.”

“We need to hear from Gov.-elect DeSantis and his team about their thoughts, their priorities, and their goals for Enterprise Florida,” said York, president of AT&T Florida.

The Enterprise Florida board isn’t scheduled to meet again before DeSantis takes office on Jan. 8. York said a conference call may be required to update members on any directions from the DeSantis.

A spokesman for DeSantis’ transition team didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Enterprise Florida was used by outgoing Gov. Rick Scott as one of the primary tools in attracting businesses and jobs to the state. Scott, who has been chairman of the Enterprise Florida board, also fended off an effort by then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran to eliminate funding for the agency in 2017.

Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, is helping chair DeSantis’ transition team. James Blair, a longtime adviser to Corcoran who has served on the Enterprise Florida board, is working as DeSantis’ director of policy in the transition.

Scott, elected to the U.S. Senate this month, called in to talk with Enterprise Florida members during an evening reception Tuesday. He did not attend the meeting Wednesday or call in.

On Tuesday, Scott was in Washington, with his calendar listing meetings on behalf of the state. A spokesman for Scott said he remained in Washington on Wednesday working on his transition to the U.S. Senate.

With a number of state department heads in attendance at the Enterprise Florida meeting Wednesday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner noted that changes should be expected throughout state government.

“For many of us, this is perhaps our last EFI meeting,” Detzner said, adding that people who will leave will continue to contribute “in very different ways, very positive work for the future of the state of Florida.”

Early in the meeting, York said he took as a good sign a Nov. 20 tweet in which DeSantis expressed a desire to continue economic-development efforts in Scott’s wake.

“I will build on @FLGovScott's legacy of making Florida an attractive place for businesses,” DeSantis tweeted. “When job creators expand or move to our state, they provide more opportunities for families to realize their dreams.”

York said he was “happy to hear those comments.”

After the meeting, DeSantis’ transition team announced a wide-ranging advisory committee on the economy that included a number of Enterprise Florida members, including York.

The committee will be chaired by former House Speaker Will Weatherford.