When Governor Rick Scott came to town

When Florida Governor Rick Scott came to New Orleans on “Trade Mission”, he chose to stop in at the offices of Search Influence.

To this day, no one from the state of Louisiana has reached out to us similarly and I think that’s odd.

We did get this nice card from Governor Scott. Note he put Angie first. Smart man.

I was interviewed by email for a story which ran on NOLA.com and I thought I would post the text of that interview here.

The NOLA.com article: Florida governor’s trip to lure Louisiana companies appears fruitless by Greg LaRose

I report, you decide…

Q: Did his office contact your first, or did you reach out to his office about meeting?

His office contacted us. It was totally out of the blue. We were pretty surprised. Right now we’re not looking at expansion.

Q: What was the gist of the conversation?

Governor Scott did a lot of the talking. Oddly enough we had a mutual connection from his days as CEO of Columbia/HCA. My first post-collegiate job was working at Tulane University for a guy who was, then, concurrently President of Tulane Hospital, David Fine.

Honestly, I was more interested in him as a guy who built a billion dollar business than as Governor of Florida. We talked a little about his perspective on growing a big business and how he approached new investments. Which I found interesting.

In terms of pitching Florida, he talked about their population growth and the opportunities with a few different business categories. And of course, he talked about the fact they have no state income tax.

We’d need a lot of incentive to move, but he did make a pretty compelling case. Additionally he connected us with a number of folks in business development for Florida to see if we could then connect with some of the municipal tourism boards — an area of expertise for us. He was pretty giving in that regard.

It did seem like his main point was political and that the sales pitch was more of an excuse. I’m not much of a news guy but it seems like he and Governor Edwards were in a bit of a spitting match. There was a little partisan rhetoric, but again, I don’t know enough in that area to engage.

Q: Do you have specific interests in expanding in and/or relocating Search Influence to Florida?

Not really, but in moments when we’ve been disappointed by the LED we have thought about reaching out to see what kind of package they would offer and then going to Louisiana like “match this”.

Honestly we’ve had a bit of a hard time with the local tax incentives. We thought we were all set for the quality jobs program, even sent in paperwork to validate it and then learned that we had misinterpreted the rules once it was too late.

Worst part was, that on the urging of LED staff we had stopped submitting to Enterprise Zone and lost out on a couple years of that tax incentive.

It seems like everybody has a greater incentive to entice businesses to move than to support the incumbents.

Q: Have you heard from Gov. John Bel Edwards or Louisiana Economic Development since your visit with Gov. Scott?

NOPE!

// Interview ends.

On another note, we do have an ongoing relationship with LED we have assisted their marketing efforts offering our space and our staff as models for their website redesign stock art as well as providing material for a blog they were producing on benefits and comp.

So I don’t want it to seem like I’m not pro-LED, I just feel they weren’t there when we needed them and cost us a fair amount of money.

Interesting story, huh? What do you think, would you move your business if the deal was good enough?

Rick Scott Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore

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