Foreign Enterprise in Florida: The Impact of Non-U.S. Direct Investment

By Mira Wilkins | Go to book overview
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to a trickle. Direct foreign investment rose, with petrodollars playing a very small part. 35 The mood in Washington, and also in Florida, shifted away from restrictions on non-U. S. investment. Today the general attitude emphasizes promotion rather than restriction.


THE "DO NOTHING" OPTION

The state has the option to treat non-U. S. investors exactly as it treats domestic investors. Such a policy would involve no special attempts to attract, to monitor, or to restrict non-U. S. stakes. We have concluded that there is real justification for efforts to attract desirable non-U. S. stakes; to monitor with intentions of discovering the dimensions of existing investments and of promoting new entries; and, very occasionally, to restrict.


CONCLUSIONS

No one in Florida seems to desire promotion of non-U. S. enterprise at the expense of domestic business. There seems to be little sentiment endorsing tax subsidies or other financial inducements to non-U. S. investors. On the other hand, considerable interest has been expressed in encouraging the entry of non- U. S. business -- business that will conform to Florida laws, be ecologically sound, contribute to the state's economic prosperity, offer technologically innovative industries, and provide sizable payrolls and employment opportunities.

Florida often competes with other states in the Southeast for foreign investments. It can do this most successfully by accenting its advantages and by seeking out those enterprises whose corporate strategies are compatible with state resources and goals. This book has shown that existing direct foreign investment in Florida reflects conditions in each region of the state. Managers who make investment decisions like to live in the sunshine state; this is a major Florida advantage. Florida can compete with other states by offering important "infrastructure" aids to industry: a favorable business climate, as well as excellent port facilities, transportation, recreation, cultural amenities, and education. The absence of a personal income tax is a significant advantage. Perhaps, too, Florida should look for investments not only in manufacturing (heretofore emphasized most by state agencies), but also in services; its demonstrated success in attracting international banks indicates its potential in this area. The efforts of the governor and of state agencies to publicize Florida's advantages and to lure non-U. S. investments seem to be time well spent; information flows are crucial in the attraction of foreign investment. If no one suggests Florida to foreign investors, they are apt to turn to states which offer plentiful information. 36

We are convinced that the state should develop a means of surveying on a regular basis the nature, scale, and progress of direct foreign investment. It

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