KISSIMMEE, Fla. - As Gov. Rick Scott criss-crosses the state heralding every new job announcement, a joint newspaper investigation is raising questions about how many new jobs the governor's tax incentive program is really attracting.
And one of the so-far failures is right here in Osceola County.
Two years ago, the governor and a roomful of politicians and jobs boosters announced Colt Manufacturing would hire 63 jobs paying nearly $50,000 a year to make firearms in a vacant warehouse.
Since then, the state and county have spent $550,000 renovating the building, but not one job has been created.
The Miami Herald-Tampa Bay Times investigation found only four percent of the 45,000 jobs promised through tax incentives has materialized so far.
The newspapers created a database that revealed these statistics about incentive deals in Central Florida counties: of 94 deals, only seven have produced any job; of 11,348 promised jobs, 201 have been created.
The governor's office does not dispute the newspapers' statistics, but says many jobs will not develop for many years to come.
And, Scott's office notes, more than 440,000 private-sector jobs have been created since Scott took office, at the depth of the financial crisis.
The governor's office claims that is more than halfway to the 700,000 jobs he promised during his campaign that he would create in seven years.
But, when informed during the campaign that state economists had already forecast one million new jobs during the next seven years, Scott said at the time his 700,000 job-promise was above and beyond those one million.
Scott also notes jobs are being created outside of the tax incentive programs analyzed by the newspaper. He claims lower taxes and deregulation are also fueling that job creation.
Colt failed to return repeated calls seeking comment.
If it does not hire at least a few of the 63 promised employees by the end of the month, it would begin to forfeit some of the incentives the state and county pledged.
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