MANATEE -- Gov. Rick Scott on Friday stopped at a Manatee business for the second-to-last stop on his victory lap for Florida adding more than a million jobs since 2010.
Scott started the nine-stop "Million Miles for a Million Jobs" tour to celebrate Florida adding 1,011,800 jobs since 2010, after a recession caused about 913,000 people to lose their jobs, according to the governor's office. He used the stop to praise Manatee County businesses and local government for helping create jobs in the area in front of a crowd of company employees, local government officials and other invited guests. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and his wife, Ann Scott.
"Everybody I know, everybody I've met, everyone wants to do something with their lives," Scott said. "I've never met a high school student who said, 'You know what, I'm really looking forward to unemployment benefits,' or 'Gosh, food stamps and public housing, that's for me.' That's not why they do it. People want to work."
Vanessa Baugh, chair of the Manatee County Commission, pointed to three Manatee-based businesses: Feld Entertainment, with about 3,000 employees worldwide; Air Products, ranked 284 of Fortune 500 companies; and Marine Concepts, a marine manufacturer where the event took place.
"Our unemployment rate is so low now. We have made such progress," Baugh said. "And we are going to continue, because of our governor and Enterprise Florida."
Scott's speech was similar to his State of the State speech in Tallahassee on Tuesday. He focused on job creation accomplishments in Florida, repeatedly calling it the "winning state," but said there was always room to create more, pushing for his proposed $1 billion in tax cuts for Florida businesses.
Legislative leaders have voiced support for tax cuts in the budget this session, but not for the full $1 billion proposal by Scott.
"The right number to cut this year is $1 billion," Scott emphasized.
Bob Long, the owner of Marine Concepts and a Scott appointee to the State College of Florida board of trustees, spoke to the crowd about how tax cuts in Florida prompted him to expand his business into Manatee County
"We may not be here if it weren't for Gov. Scott and Manatee County's Economic Development Council," Long said. "A few years ago we were a relatively small company in Cape Coral, and we were growing rapidly and looking to expand. ... So we were looking for months, and saw this empty area out in Bradenton that was a good deal ... and we went from 60,000 square feet to 350,000 square feet and from one acre to 30 acres."
Long added later that the company had about 250 employees in Florida and was still hiring, and that tax cuts on manfacturing equipment were extremely important to the company.
The jobs topic, Scott's professed favorite topic, also prompted him to pen an op-ed a couple weeks ago saying presidential candidate Donald Trump had captured the frustrations of Americans, though he clarified that it was not an official endorsement. Scott said Friday that Trump was emphasizing jobs and protecting the nation from Islamic terrorists, the main topics in Scott's State of the State.
"What's the most important thing for a family? It's a job. And he talks about that. And right now, because of what we watch with ISIS, we've got to think about what we're doing, and Donald Trump is willing to talk about that. So that's why I wrote it, because people keep asking me, 'Why is Donald Trump doing so well?' I think he's doing well because he's talking about jobs and he's talking about the threat of ISIS."
When asked if Scott believed other candidates were not accomplishing the same message, Scott echoed Trump's oft-repeated line.
"Let's look at the polls," he said. "Look at where Donald Trump is in the polls."
Marine Concepts previously hosted the governor in May 2014, when Scott used the company's production facility as a backdrop for his "Let's Keep Small Business Working" campaign push.
Marine Concepts also hosted Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio for a town hall-style engagement on Monday.