ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Good Growth

Article excerpt

Since the state of Florida took the progressive move of turning over its economic development functions to private enterprise, namely Enterprise Florida, the returns on that investment have multiplied rapidly.

It is now estimated that for every $1 spent by the taxpayers, $4 is received in return. Many a Wall Street portfolio manager would love to have such results.

In 1999, Florida was first in the Southeast and third in the nation in job creation, generating 43,421 net new jobs or jobs retained.

State and local taxes increased $147 million as a result of Enterprise Florida's efforts.

Moreover, Enterprise Florida isn't out beating the bushes for burger flippers. It is going after high-quality jobs, which usually means high-wage jobs as well.

That is not to denigrate burger flipping. Those jobs come, after the other jobs, without any incentives other than corporate profits, and they are important entry level points for workers.

Florida, of course, has a lot to offer prospects. It is an environmental treasure, it has 14 deepwater ports, proximity to Latin America and a good network of rail and highways.

One might think that the accelerated effort to bring jobs to Florida would run headlong into problems with anti-growth forces.

While it is true there are people who worry about population growth, we hear few complaints about job growth.

There's a reason. Education and the environment benefit from job growth.

High-quality jobs tend to go where there is an educated workforce. …