DESANTIS LOOKS TO LURE COMPANIES FROM WINDY CITY
Gov. Ron DeSantis intends to take his next sales pitch for financial-sector companies to Chicago.

Appearing Wednesday at an Enterprise Florida Board of Directors meeting, DeSantis said plans are in the works for a trip to Chicago that would emulate two trips he made this year to New York.

“Warren Buffett said recently, be wary of investing in states like Illinois that quite frankly are digging themselves a deeper hole and really have no way out in terms of their fiscal outlook, their pension allocations,” DeSantis, referring to the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO, said during the Enterprise Florida meeting in Jacksonville. “I think there is an opportunity to talk to some folks and drive some investment here in Florida.”

DeSantis in February and May went to New York City to stress Florida’s business climate, including Jacksonville’s financial sector, to industry players such as TIAA, Macquarie Group, Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co., BDO, JPMorgan Chase and the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.

Members of the Enterprise Florida Executive Committee on Tuesday were advised that DeSantis has three such trips lined up. No dates were announced for the trips. Enterprise Florida, which is chaired by DeSantis, is a public-private agency that helps recruit businesses to the state.

Tim Vanderhoof, senior vice president of business development for Enterprise Florida, said a return to New York and trip to Connecticut are also being mapped out “to help sell Florida to our peers up north.”

“We hope that within 24 to 36 months there’s opportunity for some of them to expand in Florida, where the market is much more favorable to them,” Vanderhoof said.

Vanderhoof said the sales pitch is built around raising awareness of Florida’s workforce, business climate and quality of life against competition in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., with the targets including up-and-coming businesses in fields such as investment banking and blockchain.

DeSantis’ predecessor as governor also targeted businesses from Illinois.

In 2013, then-Gov. Rick Scott, now a U.S. senator, released an open letter to business leaders in Illinois, encouraging them to book "one-way" flights to Florida.

Throughout his two terms as governor, Scott targeted businesses in several states with Democratic governors, including New York, California and Connecticut. Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, called efforts by Scott and others to poach Illinois companies "showboating."

In May, after DeSantis completed his second sales mission to New York and joined calls by Florida leaders to lure e-commerce giant Amazon to the Sunshine State, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office did its own pushback.

“Florida may have warmer weather, but here in New York we have better schools, a higher skilled workforce, more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, and a high-tech sector that has been growing by 15,000 jobs a year,” a spokesman for Cuomo said in May.