Double funding for programs to expand Florida businesses

"Currently, through Enterprise Florida, the state offers businesses the opportunity to grow into new markets through export counseling, grants to small businesses to participate in export trade missions, and offers international trade leads to Florida companies. Gov. Scott proposes doubling funding from the current year budget for these programs to help more small business expand internationally."


Scott hasn't asked to increase export services budget next year

Gov. Rick Scott made headlines ahead of the 2016 legislative session for asking lawmakers to give Enterprise Florida millions to attract businesses to the state. But a much smaller campaign promise to help exporters has largely flown under the budget radar.

Legislators have questioned why Scott, who serves as chairman of the public-private partnership, wants an infusion of $250 million for a new fund to help lure out-of-state businesses when Enterprise Florida already has some unused millions in escrow accounts.

Scott is lobbying hard for that cash, but he also promised during his 2014 reelection campaign to double the budget for Enterprise Florida programs that help established companies export their products to international markets. Two programs, Target Sector Trade Grants and Export Plan Marketing Assistance, were launched in 2011 and are part of Enterprise Florida's export services.

The Target Sector Trade Grants program gives eligible small businesses grants to help pay for exhibits at international trade shows. The goal is to give Florida companies exposure to potential foreign clients. An Enterprise Florida spokesman told PolitiFact Florida that 204 grants have been given out since the program started in 2011.

The Export Marketing Plan program helps small manufacturers and tech companies develop a strategy for exporting products. Enterprise Florida charges these companies $500 to develop an export marketing plan, a process than can normally cost thousands. The partnership then helps identify an initial international market to enter and cultivate clients. The program has created plans for 59 Florida businesses.

Enterprise Florida added that it has given out 151 Gold Key/Matchmaker grants, which are follow-up grants to build relationships between Florida exporters and pre-screened international customers.

During the 2013-14 fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30, the programs had a $350,000 budget. The Legislature raised that to $1 million for 2014-15. The first budget Scott would have signed after he won re-election would have been for the 2015-16 fiscal year (the current budget), in which the program allotment remained $1 million.

For the purposes of rating this on the Scott-O-Meter, we're looking for the budget to double to $2 million.

Scott has not asked for an increase in his recommended budget for 2016-17, again requesting $1 million. Legislators have the last word, however, and there's no guarantee they will set aside even that much when they hammer out a final budget during the 2016 session, which starts in January.

So where does that leave this promise?

Scott promised to double the budget for two Enterprise Florida export counseling programs, but his most recent budget request would keep funding the same. He will have two more years to attempt to double the budget to $2 million.

We rate this promise Stalled.


Gov. Rick Scott, "Governor Rick Scott's FY 2014-2015 Recommended Budget Highlights," January 2014

Miami Herald, "Two months late, Florida lawmakers approve a state budget," June 19, 2015

Politico Florida, "Senate panel grills Enterprise Florida president over incentives," Sept. 16, 2015

Tampa Bay Times Buzz blog, "Rough outing in Senate for Johnson, Gov. Scott's jobs creator," Oct. 20, 2015

Tampa Bay Times Buzz blog, "Gov. Scott demands Legislature spend $250M for job incentives," Oct. 22, 2015

Tampa Bay Times, "Gov. Rick Scott will seek $1B in tax cuts from Florida Legislature," Nov. 5, 2015

WFSU, "Scott Unveils 2016-17 Budget Plan With Tax Cuts, Enterprise Florida Funding," Nov. 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott, "Governor Scott: Florida Families First Budget Invests in Business Development and Job Growth," accessed Nov. 25, 2015

Florida Fiscal Portal, Publications: Economic Opportunity (various years), accessed Dec. 1-2, 2015

Interview with Jeri Bustamante, Scott spokeswoman, Nov. 25 & Dec. 1, 2015

Interview with Stephen Lawson, Enterprise Florida spokesman, Dec. 1-3, 2015