Hertz groundbreaking drives positive national press for Florida business climate

The new Hertz headquarters that broke ground in a pre-Thanksgiving ceremony in Lee County is bringing more than a new company to Southwest Florida. It’s generating some glowing coverage in one of the world’s top business news outlets.

An op-ed in Forbes on Thursday, headlined, “Will more corporations follow Hertz to Florida’s low taxes and Sunshine?, heralded the Hertz Corp.’s move from its longtime home in Bergen County, N.J. to Estero, Fla. as a harbinger of things to come for the Sunshine State, and Southwest Florida in particular.

Gov. Rick Scott shakes hands with Hertz CEO Mark Frissora shake hands after the company’s announcement in May it was moving its headquarters to Florida from New Jersey.

Regular Forbes contributor Travis H. Brown, who writes extensively on tax issues, noted that Hertz made the decision to move to Florida despite $40 million to $70 million in incentives offered by Republican Chris Christie’s administration in New Jersey.

Florida also beat out fellow low-tax states Oklahoma – where Hertz purchased Tulsa-based Dollar Thrifty in 2012 – and Rick Perry’s Texas to lure the world’s largest rental car corporation, Brown wrote.

“Prior to Hertz’s May 7th announcement, relocating a Fortune 300 company to Southwest Florida had never been done. Companies similar in size and scope to Hertz seeking to relocate to the Sunshine State had traditionally favored the bigger cities and markets of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa,” Brown wrote.

Those areas are traditionally big visitor draws, of course – key to any rental car operation – but Southwest Florida is growing in that area, Brown wrote.

“Tourism in the region and entire state has also increased as the annual number of passengers coming and going from Southwest Florida International Airport has risen by more than 2 million in the last decade, and Florida, as a whole, had double the amount of tourists this past year than New York …  This is all good news for a corporation built around the travel industry.”

Brown points out the obvious: Florida’s climate gives it an edge over Oklahoma and New Jersey, but hits hard on the tax advantages of the Sunshine State, with a 5.5 percent corporate tax rate compared to 6 percent in Oklahoma and 9 percent in New Jersey.

“Fortune 200, 300, and 500 corporations are now taking note of the economic and quality of life benefits Southwest Florida offers to those who call the region home,” Brown wrote. “Hertz’s successful move will only serve as a catalyst for these companies seeking relocation from states with unfavorable business climates and high taxes.”

Since before he took office, Gov. Rick Scott has made a priority of making Florida a business-friendly state because that’s how jobs get created.

As far as Forbes is concerned, it’s working.


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