Commission Right to Reject Mulligan

From Mary Dougherty-Slapp

BY MARY DOUGHERTY-SLAPP SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY DEC 24, 2016

Project Mulligan was aptly named.

The project was touted as an effort to lure a “corporate headquarters” to our area, reportedly bringing high-paying corporate jobs to Sarasota County. However, none of these jobs were to be related to operations (i.e. roofing jobs). Actually, the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County said Project Mulligan promised it would not compete for roofing jobs in the area, and the would-be firm was inundated with so much work that they would be showering subcontracting jobs to local roofers.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, let’s examine what we learned since last May.

Prior to submitting for economic incentive dollars from the state and county through the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, North American Roofing (the company we now know was behind the code name Mulligan) had already competed for a large local roofing job at Southgate Mall.

A recent permit search for Sarasota County shows 133 permits in Sarasota County for roofing jobs by the company.

So, while it is easy to say this was a “corporate headquarters,” one must complete the sentence. It’s a “corporate headquarters for a roofing contractor.” 

Currently, we are fortunate to have three roofing companies that have corporate headquarters in Sarasota County.

All three were started locally and grew without the help of taxpayer dollars. All three have hired local employees and weathered the worst of the recent recession. All three kept their doors open and retained their employed without the help of taxpayer dollars.

Florida’s economy is too dependent on construction, tourism and agriculture. To successfully diversify our economy, we must look outside these three areas to bring in quality-paying jobs and careers that will not be subject to fluctuations in real estate cycles or weather patterns.

While we agree “the tools necessary to do this are readily available for use in the right circumstances,” we don’t agree that using them to attract a roofing contractor to compete with successful local roofing firms is sound public policy.

We commend the Sarasota County Commission for directing the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County to collect and use data to make sound decisions for the local economy and for requiring sound criteria for making decisions on how incentives are used.

A mulligan is defined as a second chance to perform an action, usually after the first chance went wrong through bad luck or a blunder. Let’s take that Mulligan.

The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange has always been a supporter of economic growth, a vibrant economy, quality jobs, the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County and economic incentives. In this case, however, we stood with members of the roofing industry (who appeared before the commission in compelling numbers), including the State Roofing Association, to illustrate this was not a good use of taxpayer dollars. We live in a free market economy. We welcome any company to come to the community and grow and thrive just like other contractors in the area.

Mary Dougherty-Slapp, responding to the column "Stay Serious When Seeking Greater Good" column in the Jan. 17 edition of SRQ Daily.

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