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Swoope getting a nice raise in the Sunshine State

Nobody ever accused Gray Swoope of leaving Mississippi to become the head economic developer in Florida because of the money, but his wallet is probably fixing to become fatter — much fatter — soon.

According to a piece from The Associated Press, Swoope, former leader of the Mississippi Development Authority and now president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, is expected to get a new two-year contract. Swoope stands to make $375,000 in salary and bonuses — a 25 percent increase over what he makes now.

A panel that reviews Enterprise Florida’s budget — most of which comes from taxpayers — approved the new contract yesterday. A final vote — which could include Florida Gov. Rick Scott— is expected at the end of the month.

Swoope, who was recruited by Scott, is eligible for $300,000 under his current contract. His base salary of $230,000 comes from taxpayers, while he is also eligible for a bonus that comes from private contributions. Swoope has gotten a $70,000 bonus the past two years.

The new deal structures his base salary and incentive pay at $275,000 and makes Swoope eligible for an additional $100,000 bonus.

The proposed new contract — which runs until July 2015 — also guarantees a payment of $137,500 to Swoope even if he is removed from his job by the next governor. This could give Swoope some insurance in case someone defeats Scott during the 2014 election.

Swoope’s proposed raised is not popular with some in the Sunshine State. And the decision comes just months after state legislators balked at the amount of money Scott wanted in the state budget to help Enterprise Florida lure companies. Lawmakers also passed legislation designed to bulk up the amount of oversight over business incentives used by the state.

The bad news in all of this for Mississippians is that it appears one of our most respected and experienced economic developers is not coming back any time soon even if Scott goes one-and-done in 2014.

The good news is when Swoope does come back, he’s buying.


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