Governor Scott and 85 member entourage visit United Kingdom
By Roger Caldwell
“Encouraging business investment and diversification is a vital for Florida’s future, and that’s the goal of Governor Rick Scott’s business missions,” said Florida Realtors President Summer Greene. In Scott’s first year-and-a half as Florida’s governor, he has visited Brazil, Canada, Israel, Panama, and Spain.
There has always been a question about how the state can afford such a large expenditure, but the answer has always been the bills are covered by Enterprise Florida, private donations, and the remainder of the delegation paid their own expenses. Gov. Scott’s 85-member entourage includes business leaders, tourism executives, lobbyists, a few mayors, and First Lady Ann Scott. From the governor’s office on the trip included press aide Jackie Schutz, Scott’s travel aide Brad Piepenbrink, and Ann Scott’s aide Sarah Hansford.
I am sure that not a penny of taxpayer’s money was wasted on the trip, but I am also sure that everyone on the trip had a good time. Gov. Scott and his 85 person entourage had a series of meetings with business leaders and executives in many different industries in the United Kingdom. The trip included a visit to the world’s leading market for specialist insurance, Lloyd’s of London, and the Farnborough International Air Show.
At the International Air Show, Florida hosted a pavilion and discussed with leading professionals and executives why they should expand their business to Florida. Florida is the home to 12 aviation military bases, three spaceports, and dozens of academic institutions that offer aerospace and aviation training, such as Daytona Beach-based Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Miami-based George T. Baker Aviation School.
The manifest for the trip included who’s who in Florida, and outgoing Senate President Mike Haridopolos, George Zoley, chairmen and CEO of the GEO Group Inc., and 13 employees of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University were also members of the delegation. Lobbyists who accompanied Scott included Marc Dunbar (Parimuluels), Robert Hawken of FCCI insurance Group, Tom Van Berkel, chairmen of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Fred Karlinsky (insurance and health care), and John Sebreeof the Florida Association of Realtors.
“The United Kingdom is Florida’s largest foreign direct investor employing over 39,000 Floridians, and Florida is the largest long haul destination for U.K. nationals, with 1.3 million visiting the state every year,” said Gov. Scott. During the week certan members of the delegation met with U.K. officials to help increase more business for the state.
At this trade mission the governor made real estate a main selling point for anyone coming to the state to do business. For someone looking for investment property, a second home, or a primary residence, the weather is great, and prices will fit any sales range. The real estate contingent in the delegation met with the leadership of Hamptons international, the largest real estate company in the U.K.
This was a very successful trade mission and it is essential for Florida to have a global perspective to grow the state’s economy. As the governor continues with his goal of global economics, it is important to be transparent with the cost of these trade missions.