Scott, entourage visit United Kingdom

caines | 7/26/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Encouraging business investment and diversification is vital for Floridas future, and thats the goal of Governor Scotts business missions, said Florida Realtors President Summer Greene. In Scotts first year-and-a half as Floridas governor, he has visited Brazil, Canada, Israel, Panama, and Spain. There has always been a question about how the state can afford such a large expenditure, but the answer has always been the bills are covered by Enterprise Florida, private donations, and the remainder of the delegation paid their own expenses. Governor Scotts 85-member entourage included business leaders, tourism executives, lobbyists, a few mayors, and First Lady Ann Scott. From the governors office on the trip included press aide Jackie Schutz, Scotts travel aide Brad Piepenbrink, and Ann Scotts aide Sarah Hansford. I am sure that not a penny of taxpayers money was wasted on the trip, but I am also sure that everyone on the trip had a good time. Governor Scott and his 85 person entourage had a series of meetings with business leaders and executives in many different industries in the United Kingdom. The trip included a visit to the worlds leading market for specialist insurance, Lloyds of London, and the Farnborough International Air Show. At the International Air Show, Florida hosted a pavilion and discussed with leading professionals and executives why they should expand their business to Florida. Florida is the home to 12 aviation military bases, three spaceports, and dozens of academic institutions that offer aerospace and aviation training, such as Daytona Beach-based Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Miami-based George T. Baker Aviation School. The manifest for the trip included whos who in Florida, and outgoing Senate President Mike Haridopolos, George Zoley, chairmen and CEO of the GEO Group Inc., and 13 employees of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University were also members of the delegation. Lobbyists who accompanied Scott included Marc Dunbar (Parimutuals), Robert Hawken of FCCI insurance group, Tom Van Berkel, chairmen of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Fred Karlinsky (insurance and health care), and John Sebree of the Florida Association of Realtors. The United Kingdom is Floridas largest foreign direct investor employing over 39,000 Floridians, and Florida is the largest long haul destination for U.K. nationals, with 1.3 million visiting the state every year, said Governor Scott. During the week certain members of the delegation met with U.K. officials to help increase more business for the state. At this trade mission the governor made real estate a main selling point for anyone coming to the state to do business. For someone looking for investment property, a second home, or a primary residence, the weather is great, and prices will fit any sales range. The real estate contingent in the delegation met with the leadership of Hamptons International, the largest real estate company in the U.K. This was a very successful trade mission and it is essential for Florida to have a global perspective to grow the states economy. As the governor continues with his goal of global economics, it is important to be transparent with the cost of these trade missions. By Roger CaldwellMiami Times contributorjet38@bellsouth.net