Florida shipping jobs out of state

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Eight-hundred-thousand Floridians remain out of work, yet the state is contracting with out-of-state firms that aren't creating a single Florida job.

The state's Enterprise Florida recently chose a Nashville firm over four Florida firms to create a marketing slogan, and residents could pay twice as much for a death certificate to a Tennessee company if they want to use a credit card.

After Marge Masterman's husband died, she wanted to learn more about her family history, so she started looking for family death certificates. The state Bureau of Vital Statistics told her to call an 800-number.

"I found out it was in Texas and the gentleman told me that they had outsourced the contract from the state of Florida," said Masterman, a retired college professor.

In Florida, people can't order anything from the official state vital statistics website if they want to pay with a credit card.

Vital Check of Tennessee charged Masterman $15 instead of the $5 the state would've charge her for the first death certificate, then the company added a $7 processing fee. Vital Check processes 6,500 requests a month. At $17 dollars apiece, its income would be $1.3 million.

"We are going to pay someone out of the state $17," Masterman said. "Why don't we pay a person in the state $17 and give the job to someone in Florida?"

In another case of outsourcing, Enterprise Florida, the partnership charged with bringing businesses to the state, chose the Nashville company over four Florida companies for a $200,000 branding contract. Florida's job governor seemed unfazed by the decision.

"My goal for Enterprise Florida is to get more jobs for Floridians," Gov. Rick Scott said. "And so I want them to do the best job they can."

The Nashville firm that got the branding contract had previous ties to the man Scott chose to lead economic development in Florida.

Vital Check of Nashville is the only authorized firm to distribute birth, death and other vital statistic certificates. The state pays it nothing, so the firm makes its profits from fees charged to customers.

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