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Sunday, Nov 23, 2014
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State business recruiter’s bonus is $120K


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— The head of Gov. Rick Scott’s business-recruitment efforts received a $120,000 bonus Thursday.

The Enterprise Florida board of directors approved the bonus for president and Chief Executive Officer Gray Swoope, whose base salary received a $45,000 increase, to $275,000, in October.

The bonus surpasses a $100,000 cap that was set when Swoope’s salary was raised last year.

The board, which met at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, is allowed to go above the contracted bonus if the public-private economic-development agency exceeds its goals, said Alan Becker of the board’s finance and compensation committee.

The bonuses are for meeting 97 percent on a list of 52 objectives for the year, he said.

The package is part of up to $765,000 in bonus compensation that will be divided among staff members, according to Enterprise Florida records. How the bonuses are doled out will be determined by Enterprise Florida leaders.

The agency estimates it has created 36,207 jobs in the past year, 44 percent over a year earlier, while capital investments in Florida have grown 41 percent in the same time.

“Since the 2010-11 fiscal year, total established jobs are up 84 percent and capital investments are up 150 percent,” Swoope said in a release from Enterprise Florida.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done and look forward to more success in the coming year.”

Integrity Florida’s executive director, Dan Krassner, whose watchdog group has been one of the biggest critics of Enterprise Florida, questioned the awards.

“Integrity Florida has documented various pay-to-play practices at Enterprise Florida where corporations pay $50,000 for a seat on the board of directors, then many of them receive vendor contracts and tax incentive deals negotiated by the agency,” Krassner said in an email.

Becker said a number of private CEOs in Florida receive larger bonuses from their companies and that the money comes from private investment in the organization, not state tax dollars.

“Our CEO’s salary … was at the bottom half of comparable state positions, and in fact, several of our local economic development CEOs within the state of Florida are paid more than the state’s CEO,” Becker said.

“We think with the combination of salary and performance incentive compensation we’re hitting the right note.”

The bonus tops the $70,000 that Swoope received the past two years.

The CEO was recruited by Scott in 2011 from Mississippi, where he was executive director of the state’s development authority.

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