Valentino shares his plan (updated)

May 14, 2009

Updated 11:42 am, May 15

Commissioner Gene Valentino gave the IN a peek into his black box to see his economic development plan. He will fully present his proposal –yes, it is on a DVD– at the joint meeting of the commission and the Pensacola City Council next Tuesday, May 19.

The plan calls for the formation of an independent economic development authority, Pensacola Escambia Development Authority (PEDA), that will be governed by 15-member board.

The five commissioners will each appoint one representative, Pensacola City Council two reps and Century Town Council one rep. Those eight members will appoint three people to represent Education, Military and Minority Interests. The remaining four members will be appointed from the general public by the other PEDA board members. The board will operate fully under the Florida Sunshine Laws.

According to Commissioner Valentino, PEDA will have an operating budget between $300,000-$600,000. It will be run by “Superstar” executive director that will operate outside the Sunshine laws and can sign confidentiality agreements with prospects.

“This director will be able to talk with the Bill Gates of the world,” says Valentino.

The funding for PEDA will come primarily from electric and gas franchise fees. The total $6 million to be raised increase will cost Escambia households an average $1.50 more per month. The fees will generate between $5.9-$8 million a year for PEDA to use as incentives to attract businesses.

Valentino described the Chamber’s proposal that Mort O’Sullivan presented in late March as a “Pay to Play” idea—meaning economic development is run by those individuals who put up the money.

“Under my plan, the entire community is invested in economic development,” says Valentino. “Experts have told me that ‘Pay to Play’ is a thing of the past that only benefits the few that are playing.

“It’s only natural for those who put up the money to expect a return on investment and try to promote their own interests.”

“This county has an identity crisis,” says County Administrator Bob McLaughlin. “Small towns build their identity around their chambers. Larger cities and counties move to a different approach.”

Commissioner Gene Valentino said that people at his precinct meeting are telling him that they want economic development moved out from under the Chamber.

“Business owners are leaving the Chamber because it has a small group dictating where we go,” says Valentino. “The community wants change.”

What’s next?
Commissioner Valentino will present his plan at the meeting next Tuesday. He will answer any questions. If there is a consensus to proceed, he will ask the city and county to study the specifics and come back in 30 days to discuss the recommendations from the two governments. It will also give time for others to bring forth their ideas.

“Then we can draft an inter-local agreement with intent to have it executed on or before October 1,” says Commissioner Valentino.


Here are the slides that are in the DVD presentation: GV plan

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  • Ignorance = Expensive May 17, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Florida statute 288.075 allows economic development agencies to keep any economic development project conidential for up to 2 years. This law is currently in effect. There is nothing preventing current leaders from keeping any project confidential. That entire issue os a red herring.

  • publius May 16, 2009 at 6:40 am

    anony, i did not see that but i will look it up.

  • Anony May 15, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Publius-as an aside-did you see Adam Lebor’s May 9 article in the Daily Mail?

  • Anony May 15, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    You’d have to look far and wide to find a more corrupt government and business sector than those in Alabama.
    And, Austin? There is nothing about Pensacola/Escambia and Austin that are anywhere near comparable. Austin is a very progressive, sustainability oriented, inclusive society. And can’t you just imagine what would happen if Pensacola/Escambia started handing out solar subsidies to citizens?? Canaries, that’s what.

    So, we know that GV’s plan has been in the works for many years now, and that his running for a position on the commission was part of that plan. He has had a meeting in the shadows with Woods and Hall, and he has had a meeting in the shadows with a publisher, and a marketing executive, and the county administrator – am I to assume this was actually for the creation of what came to be a PR move? Is there a great deal of difference in his tactics and those of past elected officials, so far?

  • publius May 15, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    i defy you to name a city in florida that is giving subsidies away like they do in alabama. it’s legal in alabama but not in florida. consider how difficult it was to put together an incentive plan for the scripps institute in palm beach county. florida is at a disadvantage to other states period because we dont hand out incentive money. if you guys feel better being misled down a rosy garden path, ignorant of reality but pleased with the leadership that says these great things even though it can’t deliver, well, you deserve whatever happens to you. the germans who were happy with hitler’s leadership in economic development plans in the 1930’s were probably less happy when the russians brought home the reality of the plans in 1945– how about silesia going to poland? that worked out really well for germany. so believe what you want but dont confuse it with reality.

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