Goodbye, EFI

April 28, 2023

The Florida Legislature has advanced two major bills that will significantly alter the way economic development is done in Florida.

House Bill 5 (HB 5) and Senate Bill 1664 (SB 1664) will eliminate Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI), the public-private partnership formed in the late 1990s that is charged with marketing our state as a business destination. Some of EFI’s activities will be subsumed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which going forward will be renamed the Department of Commerce. The to-be-appointed Secretary of the Department of Commerce will be in charge of negotiating deals that come to the state and promoting Florida as a destination for new investment.

Additionally, VISIT FLORIDA, the Sports Foundation, and EFI’s international programs will be transferred to the new Department of Commerce.  Most remaining state incentives used to attract business will be repealed, with the exception of a few such as the Capital Investment Tax Credit and some rural economic development programs.

Florida’s once mighty film industry – the third largest in the United States behind New York and California in revenue generated in 2006 – has been decimated. The bills above along with HB 7073 are eliminating what was left of the few remaining film industry sales tax exemptions, leaving Florida with no incentives to offer against competing states.

What does that mean for economic development in Tampa Bay?

We still have the same great product to sell to our relocation and expansion prospects: a market rich in skilled talent, that is diverse and welcoming, and led by business, government and higher education leaders who are eager to help companies thrive here.

Our team and board anticipated the possibility of EFI’s demise when we were formulating our new strategic action plan. We will budget to hire more business development professionals and project managers to make up for the loss of referrals from EFI and strengthen our relationships with site selectors to ensure that projects are coming directly to us. Working more closely with our regional partners in Pinellas and Pasco via our Global Tampa Bay initiative, we will step up our outreach to foreign direct investment prospects and continue marketing the tremendous assets this region has to offer international businesses looking to expand in the Southeast.

Our board and team are energized – not daunted – by the possibilities that lie ahead of us.

Thank you all for the great work that you do in making Tampa Bay one of the most desirable and welcoming business destinations in Florida.