May. 28, 2013

Hertz Relocates To Florida, Signals The Sunshine State Is Open For Business

By Ed Pozzuoli

To people outside the state, Florida’s image is that of beaches and sunshine, of theme parks and family-friendly destinations that are great places to rest, to relax, and to get away from the pressures of the “real world” for a week or so.

That’s not likely to change any time soon. It’s a brand that state leaders have worked for decades to create that has been a boon to our economic prosperity. What people outside the state are starting to realize now is that Florida is also open for business.

State leaders like former Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott have worked hard alongside farsighted entrepreneurs and permanent commercial interests to make the rest of the country, and the world, realize that Florida is a place where business -  big business  -  happens. Almost everything that happens in America – if its grown, imported, exported, constructed, financed, consumed or manufactured – also happens in Florida.

That’s probably one of the reasons that the corporate leadership at Hertz announced recently that they would be moving the company’s global headquarters here from its current home in Park Ridge, N.J. The northeastern United States, once the anchor of the country’s economy, can no longer compete with leaner, more productive states like ours. The costs of doing business there are just too high.

Places like New York and New Jersey are still mired in the 1960s and 70s, at least as far as attracting business is concerned. They tax too much, regulate too harshly, and force business to navigate a nightmarish morass of paperwork and rules that might have worked in a smaller industrial economy, but are poorly suited to the demands of modern, post-industrial, information-age business.

There are a lot of things that make Florida attractive to people looking to relocate. First and foremost, Florida has no state income tax. So whether you are Hertz or Lebron James,  relocation has obvious financial benefits. Second, the regulatory atmosphere is far less intrusive than the Northeast. Third, Florida’s growth is unparalleled as Northeast, Midwest as well as foriegn transplants seek the warmth of Florida’s business friendly climate. Lastly, the state remains financially strong with a balanced budget, strong bond ratings and continued investment in quality public schools (both traditional and school choice alternatives).

So when Hertz needed a place  that provide an educated workforce and a friendly business climate, it chose Florida. Once its planned $50 million headquarters complex in Estero is completed, Florida can look forward to the addition of at least 700 jobs paying an average of $102,000 per year. That’s not counting all the jobs that will also be created in construction, in service industries, in information technology and the other ancillary businesses that will spring up to meet the needs of these newest Floridians. And the company’s  presence will add to our growing tax base, generating more revenue at a time when most state’s find their budgets pared down to the bone.

It was enlightened leadership at the state and county level and in the private sector that brought Hertz to Florida. Governor Rick Scott is right that this is “a major victory for our state,” as he told the Ft. Myers News-Press. “What happened just reinforces this state is a great place to do business.”

In order to keep the good news coming, it will be up to county leaders and to the governor and the legislature in Tallahassee to keep things streamlined. Government should be about bringing in business, not be a business itself. If the goal is real jobs at real wages so that living standards will continue to rise, then we need to keep the regulatory structure lean and mean, we have to continue to invest in the state’s educational system, and we have to hustle. We have to show the rest of the nation, and the world, that Florida is open for business.

Ed Pozzuoli is president of the South Florida-based Tripp Scott Law Firm, which serves the interests of entrepreneurs and growing companies.

Link to the Forbes article

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