If Florida were to downscale or eliminate its economic development incentive programs, the most natural question to ask is: how do we encourage healthy economic development as a state? There’s a strong argument, backed up by years worth of studies and data, that economic development incentives do little-to-nothing to contribute to the long-term growth, stability, or diversification of a state’s economy. In lieu of costly, and likely ineffective, incentive programs, the state should explore other policies to ensure long-term, stable growth. These policies should include: tax reform, regulatory reform, effective education policy, and responsible infrastructure policy.
A low overall tax burden and a simple, easy to understand tax code helps businesses plan for the future and saves them the time and cost of having to figure out a complicated tax code with multiple exemptions. Ending targeted exemptions and enacting broad-based cuts to tax rates are important strategies for encouraging economic growth.
Investing in a strong educational system, one that is responsive to the needs of individual students by providing a variety of options to both students and parents, is an investment in long-term economic growth. If a business starts up or relocates in Florida, but our residents don’t have the education and skills to fill those jobs, those new opportunities don’t help them. Likewise, when businesses decide where to locate, they look at factors having to do with quality of life – they don’t want to locate their businesses in a place where their workers won’t want to live. A strong education system is a big selling point for businesses looking at Florida as a potential home for their valuable employees.
A focus on maintaining and improving infrastructure is critical for a growing economy. Almost all businesses, especially manufacturing, rely on transportation infrastructure to bring in necessary raw materials, to send finished products to buyers and sellers, and to facilitate customers coming to and from businesses which provide services to consumers. Providing infrastructure that is safe, fast, inexpensive, and convenient saves these businesses time and money, allowing them to increase their profits and reinvest into their businesses. As such, thinking through sound, fiscally responsible infrastructure policy is crucial to providing an environment for economic growth.
As leaders in your community, start the conversation at your local city or county board. Request that the city/county do an official study of the impacts that right to work reforms could have for your community, or plan to bring a proposal for consideration at your next regular meeting.