Boca Raton-based Office Depot one of the largest and most recognizable brands based in the State of Florida has been acquired by Staples, a company Mitt Romney had a major hand in founding and making into leading brand. Romney’s influence kept Staples HQ in Massachusetts and now the retail giant has acquired Office Depot which has long been the recipient of generous tax breaks from the state. Jeb Bush as Governor pushed a $4.9 tax incentive package through the legislature in 2006, but that seems little incentive for the merged corporation to consider basing itself in Florida.
Staples announced yesterday that the merged corporation will be based in Framingham, Massachusetts. This comes after little attention was placed in the last week on the consequences of lost jobs in Florida due to this merger by legislative leaders.
Office Depot employs over 2,000 people at its Boca Raton headquarters and if the bulk of those jobs leave the state, the opportunity costs financially would be in the multi-million dollar range. We’ve discussed previously the continued inability of Florida’s Republican leadership to attract new companies to the state even while dishing out millions in tax breaks to business including Office Depot. This appeared to be a big test of the leadership in the state, but thus far we have heard precious little from Governor Rick Scott or the legislative leadership on this topic. Yesterday’s announcement indicates that whatever behind the scenes-politicking Scott and his legislative allies were engaged in failed miserably.
The question now has to be asked of the Governor and Legislature. What is the plan if the merged corporation relocates thousands of jobs to Massachusetts post-merger? Is a plan in place to re-coop the lost millions and who are the targets to attract to Florida in order to replace the loss in jobs?
Questions also have to be asked at the local level. Last year, just before Office Depot and Staples began negotiating a potential merger, Palm Beach County Commissioners approved a lucrative incentive package for Office Depot. At the time it appeared to be a sound policy, but what recourse does the county now have to get the money intended for Office Depot returned to taxpayers?
The era of corporate consolidation is in full swing and often events are beyond the control of politicians. However, it appears Florida’s leaders don’t have contingency plans in place to soften the blows delivered when signature brands associated with the state pick up and leave or are merged with out-of-state competitors.
If the jobs were not produced as promised in the very generous incentive deal with Office Depot and every other company that Bush, Crist or Scott have gifted these companies with, then it is up to the State of FL to recover every dollar that they owe back to the state! This is a typical Republican boondoggle, and someone needs to file a lawsuit forcing the audit of every deal, and a court order for the refund of those millions! No, the Repubicans in the legislature are too busy passing 8 or 9 abortion ban bills, defense of marriage bills, the usual garbage that they fritter the entire session on every year! As for the bill passing that is desperately needed to be done,, well, there’s no time left! These goons now have $1.5B to “find” to make up for the dollars they are losing because they failed to do their job and expand Medicare last session. A sorrier pack of fools I have never beheld! It is malfeasance of the very worst kind, and should not be tolerated by Florida’s citizens!