Florida—Yes, That Florida—Is Trying to Poach Massachusetts Businesses
A clumsy letter asks Massachusetts (and Colorado, and Illinois, and Kentucky ...) entrepreneurs to head where the sun shines.
Nothing says â€śI love youâ€ť like roses, diamonds, or even candy. Florida, arguably the most bat-shit crazy state in the union, is trying something different: boilerplate.
In the wake of Massachusetts lawmakers voting to impose a 6.25 percent tax on computer design and software sales, Florida’s economic development lotharios dashed off this letter to Bay State business titans on August 6, asking their companies to make a â€śone-wayâ€ť trip to Florida:
Florida likes to swing, apparently, but may be unaware that things posted to the Internet can be viewed by everyone. A review of the stateâ€™s website shows the Massachusetts letter was dispatched shortly after the tax was passed. Rather than write a new letter, state officials dusted off almost word-for-word identical appeals that were sent to Colorado businesses leaders on July 17, to MinnesotaÂ on May 30, to California on April 26, and to Illinois on April 22.
Weâ€™re no stranger to strange news coming out of Florida. But what is going on?Â â€śIt shows Floridaâ€™s taxes may be lower, but theyâ€™re not exactly sharpies when it comes to modern communications techniques,â€ť said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor in the College of Communication.
The recruitment effort may be ham-handed, but Bay State lawmakers better watch their bacon, Berkovitz said. Massachusetts business leaders are so angry over the Legislatureâ€™s tax hike, theyâ€™re trying to repeal it.Â Florida, like many states, is trying to grow its economy. The jobless rate is 7.1 percent (in Massachusetts, it’s 7 percent).
Floridaâ€™s play is that the state is tax-free and has a low regulatory burden. Massachusettsâ€™ advantages are that people like living hereâ€”that despite high business costs, businesses can recruit top talent to a place with great universities, museums, and health care. But Florida is giving employers something to think about.
â€śWhat Massachusetts should be worried about is that the costs of doing business for these companies could be less, and thatâ€™s a big deal,â€ť Berkovitz said. He added that leaders considering Florida will ask â€śhow much is it going to cost us and can we get the kind of workers we want to relocate there?â€ť
Of course, Berkovitz stipulated that Floridaâ€™s low-tech campaign could be blunted by silly mistakes: â€śAs long as you donâ€™t begin it with ‘dear occupant,’ youâ€™re not in totally bad shape.â€ť
If thatâ€™s the case, Massachusetts may catch a break. In the meantime, it seems Florida posted a draft letter to Kentucky business leaders, and hasnâ€™t entirely mastered the poaching other-stateâ€™s-companies schtick yet. But be afraid.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/08/14/florida-yes-that-florida-is-trying-to-poach-massachusetts-businesses/