News Article

9 Investigates state jobs program for boosting tech, jobs
Date: Feb 17, 2012
Source: ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Self-Determined Health Inc of Celebration, FL


A multimillion dollar state program designed to boost technology and bring in jobs may not be doing much of either.

WFTV's Lori Brown investigated the secrecy surrounding the program that now has a state lawmaker saying enough is enough.

Scott Rigby and his company, Self-Determined Health, Inc., got a taxpayer-funded grant of nearly $200,000 in tax dollars to create jobs and expand technology.

But a look around the business' offices shows a couple of computers, a microwave and a copy machine.

WFTV couldn't even find a company website.

"We've put the vast majority of that money to job creation. And so, I would say 85, 90 percent has gone directly to job creation," Rigby said.

So how many?

"We've created between two and three jobs. I say between two and three because one is kind of partially kind of funded through the grant funding," Rigby said.

Rigby said the jobs are in addition to his own, but he wouldn't say how much the jobs pay.

Self-Determined Health received its state grant money from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research. It and 12 other businesses got a total of $3 million in tax dollars.

But when we asked to see the grant applications to see what taxpayers were getting for their money, the institute refused, citing a state law that lets the institute keep them confidential. And the law only applies to the institute.

"I think it's a symptom of a larger problem. We've got an issue here in Florida," Rep. Scott Randolph said.

A state report says the $3 million created only 31 jobs and 10 inventions, patents or copyrights. Florida's matching grant recipients are only required to report their performance information for one year. After that, they can operate in the dark.

WFTV showed this to Randolph, who is introducing legislation forcing the institute and other grant programs to be more open with records.

That same report showed the state grant money didn't help Self-Determined Health, Inc. generate any inventions, patents or copyrights.

The company's president said its mission is to motivate people to what he calls "better healthcare outcomes."