By Governor Rick Scott
Businesses create jobs, not government. That is why, as Governor, I am committed to improving our state’s business climate by lowering the cost of doing business in our state, eliminating burdensome regulation and investing taxpayer dollars in a way that encourages growth. To measure our efforts, every business that chooses to grow and expand in Florida is evidence we are on the right track.
State incentives were recently finalized for the Cheney Brothers company, a food distribution company based in Palm Beach County, to build a distribution center in Charlotte County. This expansion sets the stage for positive economic effects and is a business gain for Florida, as well as for those who need jobs in Charlotte County.
Cheney Brothers already operates food distribution centers in Ocala and Orlando, and the new distribution center will bring 380 immediate jobs to Charlotte County. These jobs will pay 17.6 percent more than county’s average wage. As a company that serves Georgia, the Carolinas, and exports worldwide, their $30-million investment will help other businesses in the area as well.
To encourage Cheney Brothers to expand, state and local governments are working together to reduce barriers to transportation improvements that will allow safe access to the distribution center. These efforts are good examples of how government can invest tax dollars to encourage business growth.
Another way government can encourage economic growth is to invest in vital transportation projects. That is why I recently announced a 50-50 partnership between the State of Florida and the Port of Tampa that will increase the port’s ability to handle up to five million more tons of petroleum products a year. With 45-year-old petroleum unloading facilities in need of updating, the project will ensure the port can continue to meet the region’s need for gasoline, diesel and jet fuels.
The Port of Tampa is an energy gateway for West and Central Florida and currently handles over seven million tons of petroleum products a year. To be completed in 2014, the $45-million expansion will provide two new petroleum berths and rehabilitate the petroleum terminal infrastructure.
Most importantly, this project will enhance Florida’s infrastructure and get our state ready for a new generation of international trade with the Caribbean, South America and beyond. That is why I directed the Florida Department of Transportation to invest $22.5 million in the new facility. The port estimates the project will create over 641 construction jobs, as well as more than 8,200 direct and indirect jobs over the next 30 years.
Investments that encourage business growth ensure Florida companies are able to expand and create more jobs. Last year, Florida added 141,500 new private-sector jobs and unemployment dropped 2.1 percentage points. With these numbers moving in the right directions, Florida is clearly on the right track.