TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott joined top business leaders Thursday to unveil a new "business branding" campaign, the latest initiative in a multipronged effort to cast the state of Florida as an attractive place for commerce.
The branding campaign will feature orange neckties, strategically placed sand sculptures and the slogan: "Florida: The perfect climate for business."
"To help achieve my goal of creating 700,000 jobs in seven years, I am constantly calling on CEOs to let them know why Florida is the best place in the world to start, grow or expand their business," Scott said. "Now, we will be able to have an ongoing initiative and brand to reinforce what we've been saying."
The campaign is part of Scott's mission to create jobs by catering to business interests. The governor has appeared on several cable shows, sent letters to business professionals and traveled across the globe to talk up Florida's business climate.
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Scott's administration also has approved billions of dollars in business-friendly tax breaks and incentives in recent years.
After spending $205,000 to have a Tennessee-based company research strategies for marketing Florida as a business-friendly "super state," a state-run organization is asking for $3 million in taxpayer cash to push the "perfect climate" message over the airwaves.
Gray Swoope, president of Enterprise Florida, said the campaign will help change public sentiment about Florida, a state often seen by outsiders as a place for vacations, beaches and Disney World.
The "perfect climate" campaign seeks to build on Florida's tourism brand by highlighting the state's size, diversity and business-friendly policies, Swoope said.
An advertising spot released at Enterprise Florida's board meeting Thursday mixes images of Florida's tourism hot spots with factoids highlighting the state's allure for businesses. The spot points out that Florida has one of the largest economies in the world, no personal income tax and unparalleled access to markets in Latin America.
"The best place to get away from it all is also the best place to get it all done," the narrator says. "Grow your company in Florida."
The branding program has already run into some resistance in the Legislature, where lawmakers have been scrutinizing how Florida uses taxpayer money to lure businesses to the state.
Last week, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, questioned why Florida needed to spend money on a new marketing campaign when there are already several taxpayer-funded initiatives to market the state.
Swoope, who has appeared before lawmakers several times in recent weeks to face tough questions about the state's use of tax incentives, said he believes the Legislature will see the value of the new business brand.
Enterprise Florida is also asking private companies to chip in and match the state's funding.
The organization faced some criticism last year when it revealed that the research contract for branding Florida had been outsourced to a company based in Tennessee.
The company, which received a $205,000 contract, interviewed several stakeholders inside and outside of Florida and came up with the following platform for the branding campaign: "For those seeking an ideal live-work balance, Florida is a super-state with boundless energy and borderless opportunity where the sun always shines on you and your business."
A Jacksonville company, On Ideas, is now responsible for carrying out the branding and advertising campaign.
The company, which received a contract of about $125,000, has launched a website, perfectbusinessclimate.com, and is planning several new initiatives to carry out the full marketing campaign once funding is approved.