TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As Enterprise Florida programs shift into a rebranded Department of Commerce, international business-recruitment efforts will continue through an organization expected to be called Select Florida.
Enterprise Florida President Laura DiBella on Wednesday said certain functions of the public-private Enterprise Florida will continue through a separate arrangement with the Department of Commerce. That arrangement involves setting up a new non-profit organization --- open to state and private funding --- for international business efforts.
“It will rely heavily on private donations to continue its mission,” DiBella said during an Enterprise Florida Board of Directors meeting. “So, I do hope that many of you would embrace this new culture towards economic development, this new way of doing it here in Florida.”
She added the name of the new organization will be Select Florida. It will operate as what is known as a direct-support organization.
Gov. Ron DeSantis last week signed a bill (HB 5) that will eliminate Enterprise Florida and shift contracts and more than 20 programs to the Department of Economic Opportunity, which on July 1 will become the Department of Commerce.
The legislation, a priority of House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, will allow the Visit Florida tourism-marketing agency and the Florida Sports Foundation to continue operating as direct-support organizations under the Department of Commerce.
The bill also directs the department to contract with a direct-support organization to “encourage and oversee the coordination of international trade development efforts of public institutions, business associations, economic development councils and private industry.”
The new organization is also expected to “assist in developing and carrying out the 5-year statewide strategic plan as it relates to foreign investment, international partnerships, and other international business and trade development.”
The legislation directs $5 million to the non-profit in the upcoming fiscal year.
“Investors” or businesses teaming with Enterprise Florida have been expected to contribute up to $50,000 a year.
The bill includes a transition period for the Enterprise Florida changes, with contracts and programs expected to be shifted to the Department of Commerce by Dec. 1.
Enterprise Florida has been the state’s business-recruitment agency since 1996. But it faced criticism from the House for years.
DiBella, the former executive director of the Florida Harbor Pilots Association who took her current position in February, is expected to remain with Enterprise Florida through the conversion period.
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