Rick Scott’s Florida: #ItsNotWorking – Manufacturing Jobs

Tallahassee_Old_and_New_Capitols_3

During the 2013 Session, Governor Scott decided to make $115 million in manufacturing tax breaks his biggest legislative priority. But for years Republican legislators have naively promised tax breaks for industry and manufacturing and have produced very in little return for the state. Florida ranks 43rd in manufacturing nationally despite having the nation’s 6th biggest economy and 4th largest population. This is after sixteen years of Republican control of the state legislature.

My theory about the lack of education and skilled workers was laughed at by some when in April of last year I wrote the following:

 “The fact is Florida just doesn’t have the skilled workers or educational system when it comes to trained professionals in manufacturing for this to ever work. “  – The Florida Squeeze April 23, 2013

Well last month,  June Wolfe of the South Florida Manufacturers Association told the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times that the state’s manufacturing deficit is at largely due to Florida’s  lack of skilled talent in the manufacturing sector.

“On any given day in Florida, 4,500 to 5,000 manufacturing jobs go unfilled because of the lack of skill,” Wolfe told the Herald and Times.

“It’s not China that Florida is worried about,” she said. “It’s Georgia and the Carolinas.”

Speaking of China, Florida lost 114,000 jobs to China between 2001 and 2010 and Governor Scott has deepened Florida’s ties with the Communist nation (NBC News 9/28/2011). But that is an aside to this discussion.

The lack of training and skilled workers has never been properly addressed by the Republican leadership in the legislature. Because after all, that does not work well with an ideological crusade based around cutting taxes and rewarding businesses that have the most powerful lobbyists hanging around the Capitol.

For all the tax incentives and pro-business rhetoric from Republicans in the legislature and executive branch, they have proven over the past decade they are consistently unable to attract heavy industry to the state. Interestingly, Republicans in neighboring southern states have fared much better at attracting large corporations to either relocate or set up major manufacturing operations. Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina have all been wildly successful in transitioning their economies towards more manufacturing. Florida on the other hand has repeatedly failed in this effort. Having skilled workers readily available has much to do with the varying degrees of success southern states have had in developing a competitive manufacturing sector.

For a state of its size, one of four true “mega-states” with more large and medium sized urban areas than any other state in the US, Florida has a pathetically small number of Fortune 500 companies based in the state.  Despite a tax rate lower than most states and “right to work” status which prevents unions from effectively organizing, Florida’s Republicans have failed badly in attracting manufacturing jobs. Virginia, for example, has attracted five new Fortune 500 companies to the state in the past decade; Florida has attracted none. While having the fourth-largest population in the country and total Republican control of state government for 14 years, Florida ranks just 11th in Fortune 500 company headquarters.

The Herald/Times series had a great piece on the Colt Manufacturing Company. The conclusion of this piece is simple if you don’t want to click the link:

 Two years after Scott agreed to spend $250,000 renovating a Kissimmee warehouse for Colt’s Manufacturing Company, the building sits empty.

While unable to attract new industry or foster a climate of innovation that develops successful companies the Republicans have done significant damage with cuts to Higher Education that have resulted in the plummeting national reputation of the state’s top universities. That’s part of the reason we don’t have the skilled workers in Florida to fill manufacturing jobs.

Perhaps the Scott agenda is to protect current Florida businesses by busting unions, lowering taxes and preventing competition or innovation in the marketplace. Weakening higher education ensures that chances of a well-educated workforce emerging to threaten the old order are remote. Tax breaks for manufacturers benefits current manufacturers in the state but has not brought new jobs in this sector in an effective enough manner to justify the $115 million expenditure.

Both Republicans and Democrats in other southern states deserve credit for their ability to encourage and solicit economic development from large corporations creating heavy manufacturing jobs. The types of blue collar jobs complimented by high end corporate jobs that Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee in particular have attracted over the last fifteen years is admirable. While those states have moved forward, Florida, once the economic envy of the region, has stagnated or regressed. While Republicans in other southern states have taken governing seriously, Florida’s GOP have chosen to use control of state government as an opportunity to implement the experiments of right-wing Washington think-tanks and special interest groups. It is no small wonder Florida continues to be the butt of jokes nationally.

7 comments

  1. At least he’s trying. Your boy Charlie Crist did nothing but kill jobs in order to please environmentalists.

    CC is a firm believer in the global warming hoax And governed based on it.

    Floridians the jobs now not some idealism about what might happen to our coastline in 50 years which is all based on bad science.

    Like

    1. If Global Warming or Climate Change is a hoax why do 98% of scientists agree it is happening?

      Like

      1. The magical man in the sky controls the climate!

        Like

  2. Blue Dog Dem · ·

    Manufacturing jobs are really needed in north Florida. Scott talks a good game but hasn’t delivered yet.

    Like

    1. If this tax incentive package was supposed to help anywhere it was in the Big Bend and North Central Florida. But #itsnotworking .

      Like

  3. Blue Dog Dem · ·

    And I would agree it has not worked.

    Like

  4. Floridian · ·

    I agree with every word of this piece. However not long ago you wrote that it was a good thing that the governor had brought Hertz to the state had brought Boeing the state. Yet now you say he hasn’t attracted enough big business to the state not enough fortune 500 companies. That’s two right there.

    In fairness to you though I know you have consistently said we will not getit manufacturing jobs in the state. I remember more than one article you wrote about it so this is par for the course and this is very well written and argued. One of your better articles.

    Like

%d bloggers like this: