The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors met last week and at the time of this writing apparently still has not found the next CEO.
Folks, this is a crucial role in marketing our state to the world and a lynchpin in the continued expansion of the Florida economy, but perhaps our entire commerce effort needs a review. It is so much more than one CEO.
Florida, unlike many states, does not have a traditional Department of Commerce. We once did. Jeb Bush was even the secretary of Commerce under then-Gov. Bob Martinez. The functions mostly remain but they now are dispersed amongst multiple agencies and entities in public, semi-private and joint structures.
I was blessed to serve more than two terms on the Career Source Florida Board and can attest to the great job they do in making sure state and federal funds are spent properly in linking the talent needs of our state with the qualified people who can meet those needs. However, my concern is with how entities external to Florida find the right people for the right purposes when interested in doing business in Florida. Over the past two plus decades we have adjusted, fiddle with structures, opted for creative names, while suffering from the vagaries of both legislative and bureaucratic turnover. Unfortunately, the history of what once was and what has been tried before becomes increasingly vague.
Organizations like Career Source and Enterprise Florida provide a necessary linkage between the complexities of government and the equally complex private sector silos across our state. Yet somehow, we keep rebuilding our economic development car while it is going down the interstate at 70 MPH. One gets the feeling we have never really found what we were looking for in terms of the structure and placement of responsibilities. We need to keep well- functioning entities like Career Source Florida while building a tighter structure for the commerce and marketing responsibilities; with more leverage and recognition by those outside the inside baseball realm of Florida government and politics.
We are the third-largest state in the country. There should be an effort to rethink how best to manage the marketing and economic development functions so vital to our state’s economic well-being. Go ahead and do an Internet search on the words “Florida Department of Commerce”. This is likely what a company seeking information about Florida would do. You will get a hodge-podge of links, leaving you still confused as to where best to start when interested in Florida markets.
It is time for Florida to reconsider the overhauls, revisions, and dispersions of tasks and responsibilities, which fall under the realm of Commerce. The current situation is neither as efficient nor as effective as it could be, even as many of the agents and agencies do a fine job. Confusion to the enemy is a good thing, but confusion to potential partners is not advantageous to our economic future.
Dr. Ed Moore served for many years as the president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) and has served in both the legislative and executive branches of Florida government. Prior to ICUF, Dr. Moore was staff director for policy, for Worker’s Compensation, for Medical Liability and for Public Safety and Security in the Florida House of Representatives. He also worked in the private sector for 21 years.“Dr. Ed Moore: Marketing a Great State”
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