Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves to the gallery as he makes his state of the state speech on the first day of legislative session, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is planning a series of trips to Illinois to convince businesses to move to the Sunshine State. 

DeSantis recently told the Enterprise Florida board about the recruitment effort. He the deep pension debt in Illinois and Chicago make them unattractive places for businesses.

“Warren Buffett said recently to 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 obligations,” DeSantis said. “That is going to impact the viability of investing.”

As governor, DeSantis leads Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership focused on economic development in the state.

He announced plans to take envoys from Florida to the Chicago area, hoping to draw businesses away from Illinois. 

Other states also have come to Chicago and other parts of Illinois to try to bring businesses back with them.

A migration study by Lending Tree found Florida’s relatively low property taxes and lack of an income tax were the main drivers behind the state’s projection to add 330,000 people a year and top 30 million in total population by 2030.

According to Census Bureau data from 2011 to 2017, Florida was one of the states where the most Illinois residents moved to, second only to Wisconsin and Indiana.

Census data showed Florida gained more residents from other states than any other state in the nation in 2018, gaining more than 130,000 people in the 12 months that ended in July.

In February, DeSantis also went to New York to pitch the state’s business-friendly regulatory environment, meeting with financial industry chieftains in Manhattan, including executives with TIAA, Macquarie, Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co. LLC, BDO, JPMorgan Chase and DTCC.

“I want companies and institutions in the financial and banking sector, including commercial banks, investment banks, hedge funds, FinTech and international financial institutions to know that Florida is a place where businesses can do well without having to face some of the political hostility that they deal with in other parts of the country,” he said in a statement outlining his corporate recruitment goals. “Our posture here is one of welcoming, not one of demagoguery and prejudice.”

The Manhattan tour prompted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to partially blame Florida for his state’s $2.3 billion budget deficit, quipping in February that the Sunshine State was “stealing” financial services corporations and wealthy residents away from his state.

Which prompted DeSantis to reply: “I'm not stealing anybody – you are driving people away."

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.