Confidentiality important in state economic development

By (Letters)
Published March 10, 2006

Re: Unseemly secrecy, March 7.

This editorial was sensational, full of unsubstantiated innuendo and inaccurate.

The Qualified Target Industry (QTI) business incentive program is a locally driven economic development program, created to assist communities throughout Florida retain and recruit targeted industries. The program is working effectively to achieve Florida's goals of economic diversification, higher-wage job creation and increased capital investment.

Florida's Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development (OTTED) administers the QTI program with rigorous and careful oversight. QTI is performance-based, providing a tax refund only after required jobs are created. Furthermore, if a company is found to be involved in criminal activity, its contract is terminated and any tax refund monies the company may have received through QTI will be returned to the state and local community.

As you know, MZM Inc. never met its contractual obligations under its QTI agreement with the state. Thus, MZM never received a penny in local or state tax refunds via the QTI program. Additionally, MZM's QTI contract has been terminated.

Confidentiality is important in economic development business dealings. Most companies that participate in the QTI program need to protect sensitive corporate information, which, if made public, could significantly affect their profitability, share prices, employee morale, or result in political pressures and corporate instability. Without a confidentiality provision, most businesses would be unwilling to work with Florida, putting our communities at a competitive disadvantage.

I stand committed to integrity and ethically diversifying and strengthening Florida's economy.

Jeb Bush, governor, Tallahassee