The Legislature finds that the expansion of international trade and tourism is vital to the overall health and growth of the economy of this state. This expansion is hampered by the lack of technical and business assistance, financial assistance, and information services for businesses in this state. The Legislature finds that these businesses could be assisted by providing these services at State of Florida international offices. The Legislature further finds that the accessibility and provision of services at these offices can be enhanced through cooperative agreements or strategic alliances between private businesses and state, local, and international governmental entities. (1) The department is authorized to:
(a) Establish and operate offices in other countries for the purpose of promoting trade and economic development opportunities of the state, and promoting the gathering of trade data information and research on trade opportunities in specific countries.
(b) Enter into agreements with governmental and private sector entities to establish and operate offices in other countries which contain provisions that may conflict with the general laws of the state pertaining to the purchase of office space, employment of personnel, and contracts for services. When agreements pursuant to this section are made which set compensation in another country’s currency, such agreements shall be subject to the requirements of s. 215.425, but the purchase of another country’s currency by the department to meet such obligations shall be subject only to s. 216.311. (2) Each international office shall have in place an operational plan approved by the participating boards or other governing authority, a copy of which shall be provided to the department. These operating plans shall be reviewed and updated each fiscal year and shall include, at a minimum, the following:
(a) Specific policies and procedures encompassing the entire scope of the operation and management of each office.
(b) A comprehensive, commercial strategic plan identifying marketing opportunities and industry sector priorities for the country in which an international office is located.
(c) Provisions for access to information for Florida businesses related to trade leads and inquiries.
(d) Identification of new and emerging market opportunities for Florida businesses. This information shall be provided either free of charge or on a fee basis with fees set only to recover the costs of providing the information.
(e) Provision of access for Florida businesses to international trade assistance services provided by state and local entities, seaport and airport information, and other services identified by the department.
(f) Qualitative and quantitative performance measures for each office, including, but not limited to, the number of businesses assisted, the number of trade leads and inquiries generated, the number of international buyers and importers contacted, and the amount and type of marketing conducted.
(3) Each international office shall annually submit to Enterprise Florida, Inc., a complete and detailed report on its activities and accomplishments during the previous fiscal year for inclusion in the annual report required under s. 288.906. In the format and by the annual date prescribed by Enterprise Florida, Inc., the report must set forth information on:
(a) The number of Florida companies assisted.
(b) The number of inquiries received about investment opportunities in this state.
(c) The number of trade leads generated.
(d) The number of investment projects announced.
(e) The estimated U.S. dollar value of sales confirmations.
(f) The number of representation agreements.
(g) The number of company consultations.
(h) Barriers or other issues affecting the effective operation of the office.
(i) Changes in office operations which are planned for the current fiscal year.
(j) Marketing activities conducted.
(k) Strategic alliances formed with organizations in the country in which the office is located.
(l) Activities conducted with Florida’s other international offices.
(m) Any other information that the office believes would contribute to an understanding of its activities.
(4) The Department of Economic Opportunity, in connection with the establishment, operation, and management of any of its offices located in another country, is exempt from the provisions of ss. 255.21, 255.25, and 255.254 relating to leasing of buildings; ss. 283.33 and 283.35 relating to bids for printing; ss. 287.001-287.20 relating to purchasing and motor vehicles; and ss. 282.003-282.0056 and 282.702-282.7101 relating to communications, and from all statutory provisions relating to state employment.
(a) The department may exercise such exemptions only upon prior approval of the Governor.
(b) If approval for an exemption under this section is granted as an integral part of a plan of operation for a specified international office, such action shall constitute continuing authority for the department to exercise the exemption, but only in the context and upon the terms originally granted. Any modification of the approved plan of operation with respect to an exemption contained therein must be resubmitted to the Governor for his or her approval. An approval granted to exercise an exemption in any other context shall be restricted to the specific instance for which the exemption is to be exercised.
(c) As used in this subsection, the term “plan of operation” means the plan developed pursuant to subsection (2).
(d) Upon final action by the Governor with respect to a request to exercise the exemption authorized in this subsection, the department shall report such action, along with the original request and any modifications thereto, to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives within 30 days.
(5) Where feasible and appropriate, international offices established and operated under this section may provide one-stop access to the economic development, trade, and tourism information, services, and programs of the state. Where feasible and appropriate, such offices may also be collocated with other international offices of the state.
(6) The department is authorized to make and to enter into contracts with Enterprise Florida, Inc., to carry out the provisions of this section. The authority, duties, and exemptions provided in this section apply to Enterprise Florida, Inc., to the same degree and subject to the same conditions as applied to the department. To the greatest extent possible, such contracts shall include provisions for cooperative agreements or strategic alliances between private businesses and state, international, and local governmental entities to operate international offices.
(7) The Governor may designate a state protocol officer. The state protocol officer shall be housed within the Executive Office of the Governor. In consultation with the Governor and other governmental officials, the state protocol officer shall develop, maintain, publish, and distribute the state protocol manual.