In one of those too-strange-to-be-true coincidences, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed funding for the state’s cutting edge UCF GrowFL economic gardening program. This hard on the heals of the National Economic Gardening Conference held at UCF last month. The Daytona Beach News-Journal carried some reactions:
Economic gardening is a new approach and alternative to traditional economic business development. It uses high-end corporate level tools and cutting edge scientific concepts to help companies do such things as identify markets, monitor markets and track industry trends.
Officials estimate that between 5,000 and 7,000 companies statewide were eligible for the help. Several in Volusia County have participated in the program.
One firm, Mediatech of Holly Hill, was just recently notified that it had been accepted into the GrowFL program.
“Everybody is shocked,” said Phil Ehlinger, Volusia County’s economic development director, in reference to the cuts to the GrowFL and Small Business Development Centers budgets.
In 2009, then-Gov. Charlie Crist and the state Legislature approved $10 million in funding for a statewide economic gardening program.
Of that amount, $1.5 million was set aside for the economic gardening technical assistance program and the remaining $8.5 million was allocated for a loan program to support companies that demonstrate high potential for growth and expansion.
“This was a program that helped create jobs so that is why we were surprised” at the funding cut, O’Neal said.
The $2 million would have assured that the program was ongoing, he said. “This is a really big deal.”
So for those of you who say Republicans are all pro-business, well, not necessarily. Sorry, just had to get that partisan jibe in. In difficult times, we all have to be constantly demonstrating our public value. I hope the economic gardening folks in Florida can find a way to keep up their good work to grow jobs in this challenging climate.
Check out the Florida Economic Gardening Institute at: http://www.growfl.com