Miami-Dade seeks to block state assistance for firm moving to Broward
By Paola Iuspa
Miami-Dade's economic development agency is threatening to use "legal and legislative remedies" to prevent state funds from being used to entice businesses to other Florida counties.
The Beacon Council asked Enterprise Florida officials in a letter dated May 1 to reject a request by the Broward Alliance, that county's economic development arm, for incentives to attract My Travel Group to Miramar, said Dana Fernety, Beacon vice president. The Delray Beach-based travel service also has offices in Miami-Dade.
Enterprise Florida, a public and private partnership, manages state funds that can be used to lure businesses here.
Mr. Fernety said Enterprise Florida in the past opposed granting Qualified Target Industry, or QTI, incentives for intrastate relocation.
"We just want to have our position on the records," he said. "We anticipate Enterprise will maintain" it.
Glenn Vann, director of Miramar's community development department, said his office is aware the incentives are not available to a company moving jobs within the state. But, he said, My Travel wants to create 100 new jobs, making it eligible for QTI funds. He said either Broward or the City of Miramar would need to back an application from the company to get the incentives.
Enterprise Florida spokeswoman Lorri Shaban said state law prohibits "the use of state incentives for simple relocations - unless the Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development determines that without the relocation the company will move its jobs out of state or that there's a compelling economic rationale for the move and that it create additional jobs."
Ms. Shaban confirmed her agency got the Beacon Council's letter but could not confirm receipt of an application for incentives from the travel service.
"At the present time QTI dollars for My Travel Group are unknown," said Joan Goodrich, Broward Alliance acting president & CEO.
Mr. Vann said in addition to new jobs, My Travel had considered leaving the state. He said the international travel service would employ 260, with 160 relocating from Delray Beach and Miami-Dade.
The firm has already decided to move and is seeking permits to build a 37,000-square-foot office in Miramar Park of Commerce.
Mr. Fernety said his group learned April 30 of a potential deal between Miramar and My Travel from the Broward Alliance. He said the news was a surprise and came as both county agencies, together with Palm Beach's Business Development Board, are working on a tri-county, non-compete pact. The three parties last met April 29, when Broward representatives said they needed more time.
"We support the spirit of the agreement," Ms. Goodrich said of the pending pact. "But we want to clarify two outstanding points: how to handle disputes between two competing counties and confidentiality issues. We hope that leaders of all three economic development agencies can sit down shortly to continue dialogue."