In 1992, Florida Trend magazine reported that the new public-private partnership called Enterprise Florida would enable select corporations to be part of “a new power elite in Florida business.” Gov. Lawton Chiles’ administration solicited confidential donations of as much as $150,000 from 10 corporate donors for Enterprise Florida. The goal was to “dilute the influence of Tallahassee’s traditional business lobbyists — especially those who are hostile to the governor.”
From the start of Enterprise Florida, there have been concerns about its built-in conflicts of interest, exemptions from Florida’s Sunshine laws and the public benefit of outsourcing the state’s economic development policy. Under Gov. Rick Scott, economic development operations have been moving back into government with the re-establishment of a secretary of commerce, who also serves as head of Enterprise Florida, and a new Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). Enterprise Florida remains in existence through a monopoly, no-bid contract with the DEO.
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