Florida Gov. Rick Scott stopped in Bradenton at the E.R. Beall Center, 700 13th Ave. E., to announce February job numbers on Friday morning.
In the first two months of 2017, Florida employers added 53,800 jobs, according to data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
“Our job growth rate is 3.3 percent and the national number is 1.8 percent,” Scott said. “Florida’s job growth rate is way faster than the national average and we’ve done that for something like 59 months in a row.”
Scott also highlighted the growth in Florida’s labor force, which increased by 62,000 between January and February, according to the DEO’s seasonally adjusted figures.
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Bealls Inc., a Bradenton-born company, employs more than 8,500 Floridians, according to a DEO release.
“Bealls is a great company,” Scott said. “There’s not a lot of companies around the country or around the world that are 100 years old and for sure there’s not a lot in Florida that are over 100 years old, so I want to congratulate Bealls.”
“Florida is such an important part of our business; it’s our heritage, where we started from, and a significant part of our business,” said Dave Alves, president of Bealls Outlets. “We’re very thrilled we’re able to host the governor today.”
County commission chair Betsy Benac and county commissioners Priscilla Whisenant Trace and Robin DiSabatino were present to greet Gov. Scott and thank him for stopping in Bradenton.
“The governor is obviously extremely supportive of our businesses,” Benac said. “Big, small, he wants to see jobs in the county, and jobs make a huge difference for our citizens. It’s the only way they’re going to be able to get ahead and we’re going to be able to get out of some of the problems we have with reading levels; with everything.”
Scott credits the DEO and Enterprise Florida, a public private partnership tasked with bringing companies to Florida, for much of the state’s success in job creation. He believes as long as taxpayers are getting a return, there’s no reason to discontinue marketing the state as a tourist destination or to stop using incentives to lure companies in.
“We’re competing,” Scott said. “With 49 other states and other countries and other territories. My job is to help people in Florida get a job. Bealls is well known, but they still market. Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, they all market. We all know them. So we’ve got to market our state.”
Also Friday, officials announced that the state’s jobless rate remained 5 percent last month. That’s higher than the overall national unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.