Verizon bringing 750 jobs to Lake Mary; Critics speak out on incentives

LAKE MARY, Fla. — Verizon Wireless is bringing 750 new jobs to Central Florida, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday in Lake Mary.

"Florida is the perfect climate for business, and we're doing the right things here -- less regulation, less taxes," he said.

Scott spent the morning in Lake Mary meeting with Verizon officials before announcing a deal that includes a new 200,000-square-foot facility and 750 new jobs.

"Projects like this just don't happen overnight. They're based on relationships, they're based on hard work," said F. Gray Swoope Jr. of Enterprise Florida.

The vice president of Verizon, Michelle Robinson, said, "Seminole County, and specifically Lake Mary, emerged as the ideal location for Verizon."

Lake Mary Mayor David Mealor said it's a win for the state, the county and the city.

"We already know that other businesses, because of their presence, are looking to come here. Also, it's going to create a wonderful opportunity," said Mealor.

State and local leaders offered up about $7.5 million in tax and training incentives to Verizon, but they said the impact on the tax base will eclipse that number very quickly.

9 Investigates' George Spencer learned despite the celebration, the plan already has critics.

Verizon had $117 billion in revenue last year alone, and some of the "new jobs" will be imported from out of state rather than given to current Florida residents, Spencer said.

When it all levels out, the $7.5 million in tax and training incentives comes out to $10,000 for each Verizon job.

"He's made a bad habit of giving away millions of taxpayer dollars to major corporations," said Amy Ritter of Florida Watch Action.

Ritter said some Tallahassee lawmakers are trying to rein in the use of incentives and 9 Investigates confirmed the state's job-development agency is pushing to increase such incentives from $111 million annually to $280 million.

"We need to be investing in middle class, hard-working families, not in major corporations," said Ritter.

Even though many jobs will go to current Verizon employees who will be transferring, Scott says it all trickles down to Central Florida.

That's why the governor's office insists the incentives are ultimately a very good investment for Florida taxpayers.

The average salary at the facility will be $55,000, meaning the state is covering about 18 percent of the first-year payroll.