Soapbox

Florida governor has a losing message for California companies

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, speaking about jobs last month, is in Los Angeles today to try to persuade California companies to move to Florida.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, speaking about jobs last month, is in Los Angeles today to try to persuade California companies to move to Florida. Naples Daily News

California needs to compete aggressively against other states trying to attract our businesses with headline-grabbing tactics.

Rick Scott of Florida is the latest in a long line of governors who have targeted California, contacting CEOs and leading a delegation Sunday and Monday to Los Angeles to urge shipping companies to move their businesses to Florida.

Scott’s primary platform is a low-cost play from a state that cannot offer a value proposition. When it comes to Florida versus California, let’s compare apples to apples – or, more appropriately, oranges to oranges.

California has individual ports that have invested more than all 15 Florida ports combined in recent years. This investment has positioned California as a global leader. Of the top 50 ports in the world, four are in the U.S. and two are in California. Florida is unranked.

Scott is treating cost as the only priority for companies. If that were the case, we’d all be living in Mississippi.

People go into business to make money. So why does California have 54 Fortune 500 headquarters and Florida have just 15? Those Fortune 500 companies in California are 300 percent more profitable than Florida’s, according to Fortune.

California’s innovation environment cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. It has nearly 60 percent of all U.S. venture capital investment, by far the most of any state in the nation. California’s venture capital valuation is $27 billion, while Florida struggles well below $1 billion. Our venture capital community is backed by nearly 10 times more patents granted in 2014 than Florida.

Innovation is powered by knowledge, and our higher-education system is the best in the world. The University of California system is the backbone of innovation in America. Nine of the top 50 U.S. universities are in California; Florida has only two.

A Florida pitch as “the low-cost provider” from Scott will be a difficult sell to California’s sophisticated business market. Florida is one of 13 states lacking a renewable energy policy. And press reports say that Scott’s office has pressured his professional staff and members of his cabinet not to use the term “climate change.”

As the nation’s leader in renewable energy standards and initiatives, we encourage Scott to recognize the NASA scientists in Florida and 97 percent of the world’s scientists who acknowledge that climate change is real and needs to be addressed.

California is the seventh-largest economy in the world. We are 40 percent of all U.S. innovation, and we offer beaches, too. Our state needs to begin addressing business climate issues sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, we still offer the best value proposition in the world.

Barry Broome is president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council.

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