October 21, 2020
Friday, May 24, 2013
Recently, Lee County made national news when the Hertz Corporation announced that it would relocate its world headquarters from Park Ridge, New Jersey to Estero, Florida. The project will bring 700 jobs at an average salary of more than $100,000 and nearly $70 million in capital investment to the community. There are two words to describe this win – “game changing!”
Enterprise Florida currently has hundreds of competitive projects being pursued by its business development team. Some will be game changers, like Hertz, while others will create smaller numbers of jobs, but each is important to our state and we will work hard to win them all.
For example, Hertz was a highly competitive project. Other states and communities were competing for this business, including New Jersey which currently serves as the headquarters for the Hertz Corporation and Oklahoma which serves as the headquarters of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, which was recently acquired by Hertz.
The announcement was the culmination of months of negotiations with the site selection consultant and the company. It is important to note, that Estero was not the only Florida location presented to the company. Depending on the company’s needs multiple sites are submitted for consideration. When Enterprise Florida and its local economic development partners pursue an economic development project the state must demonstrate a compelling business case that makes sense for both the company and the state. The company’s final choice is usually predicated on an array of factors.
In the case of Hertz, access to the Florida tourism population of almost 90 million people, will position the company for long-term growth. In addition to location, a key driver in the decision to choose Florida was the access to a vast talent pool in the tourism industry, including 3,000 of the Hertz Corporation’s own employees currently in the state. Florida has close to 1 million employees in the tourism industry making the state a leader for skilled workers. A less known fact about the project, but a critical one, is Hertz wanted a better quality of life for their employees, in a community with less congestion than their current location.
Community competitiveness is an important factor in winning competitive economic development projects, including local financial support. For this project, Lee County has made a significant investment totaling $4.6 million to support talent recruitment, local workforce assistance, impact fee reductions as well as cash incentives. An opportunity like this is the reason Lee County established its incentive program according to Jim Moore executive director of the Fort Myers Regional Partnership. With payroll planned to exceed $70 million a year, this represents increased economic activity for existing local businesses with employees moving to the area and becoming engaged in the fabric of the community, schools and civic affairs.
Economic development truly is a team effort and often competitive projects are won not only by the state and the local community but also with the help of other partners. Florida Power and Light continues to be an active supporter of economic development in the state, providing a $125,000 utility rate rider for the Hertz project and location assistance through their new online resource center dedicated to helping businesses start, expand or relocate their operations in Florida – Powering Florida.
The most important takeaway in winning a project like Hertz isn’t why Estero won and another community lost but rather that all of Florida’s communities can and are competing. CEOs, consultants and our competitors are taking notice of what Florida has to offer. Working with our local economic development partners, we want to win more “game changers” like Hertz throughout the state.
Secretary of Commerce
President & CEO, Enterprise Florida, Inc.