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Tax breaks, incentives for companies in Florida haven't produced promised jobs

TALLAHASSEE — Florida has given tax breaks and other cash incentives to some of the world’s biggest companies in return for creating jobs.

But even Wal-Mart, Publix, Kraft Foods and other corporate giants have had trouble meeting job goals.

New data shows Florida has signed contracts worth $1.7 billion since 1995 in return for promises of 225,000 new jobs. But only about one-third of those jobs have been filled while the state has paid out 43 percent of the contracts.

That averages out to $10,237 per job.

“Hopefully we’ll learn some important lessons,” said state Rep. Mike Horner, a Kissimmee Republican whose budget committee controls economic development money.

Information on the performance of Florida’s incentive programs comes as Gov. Rick Scott prepares his budget request for new tax incentives next year. At least $125 million will be available in a fund lawmakers created for incentives.

State data shows at least 327 incentive contracts came up short, producing nearly 35,000 fewer jobs than promised. That includes 33 companies that cut jobs instead of adding work.

The state was unable to say how many jobs were created as part of 971other projects. But the data shows those companies have been paid $415 million, including Orlando’s Burnham Institute for Medical Research ($155 million), the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine ($80 million), and SRI International in Pinellas County ($20 million).

Many of the roughly 1,500 incentive contracts the state has signed include tiered payments so companies aren’t paid until jobs are created.

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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