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November 24, 2014

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Rural Advantages: Ready for Business

Easy access, abundant land and skilled workforce give Florida's rural counties special appeal.

Gary Shepherd | 9/24/2008

Northwest RACEC

Liberty Industries received a $4-million “Farm to Fuel” grant toward building a $50-million ethanol production plant in Liberty County.

In Gadsden County, CDS Manufacturing has opened its third precast concrete production facility at Gretna.

In Jackson County, groundbreaking is scheduled for November 2008 on the $16-million Chipola College Center for the Arts in Marianna. The new home to the school’s Fine and Performing Arts Departments will include a 650-seat theater, offices, recital hall, teaching and recording studios and a “black box” theater for audiences of 100 or less.

A deal to bring Green Circle Bio-Energy’s $100-million, 300,000-square-foot wood pellet plant to Cottondale earned Jackson County Development Council the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2008 Award for Rural Economic Development. The plant produced its first pellets for export to Europe in April 2008.

South Central RACEC

Many rural businesses in Florida have global connections; Organix-South is one example. The 20-employee company manufactures herbal body care products and supplements at a Hardee County site using an ingredient obtained from India, then ships finished goods to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

Autumn Blum
A native Floridian and former city dweller, Autumn Blum found a rural location just right for her globally directed company, Organix-South. From her 7,500-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in rural Hardee County, Blum ships herbal body and hair care products and herbal supplements around the world.
[Photo courtesy of Organix-South]

Organix-South has tripled in size since 2006, and in 2007 moved into its new 7,500-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in Bowling Green. The location is pleasantly rural, says owner Autumn Blum, but it has everything necessary to conduct business globally, including a T-1 broadband link.

Economic development officials, the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation and others are working together to identify transportation and mobility needs for the region. Their “Heartland Rural Mobility Plan” could one day mean a region-wide mass transit system.

Enhanced Incentives:
Companies can benefit substantively by locating in a Rural Enterprise Zone (REZ).

» Jobs Tax Credit A tax credit for 30% of wages paid to employees living in the REZ (45% if more than 20% of employees live in the REZ) for up to 24 months against corporate income tax or sales and use tax for new jobs created.

» Property Tax Credit A tax credit on corporate income tax equal to 96% of ad valorem taxes paid on new or improved property, for up to $25,000 per year for five years ($50,000 per year if 20% of employees live within the REZ).

» Business Equipment Sales Tax Refund Refund of sales taxes paid on business property with a sales price of at least $5,000 per unit and used exclusively in the REZ for at least three years.

» Building Materials Sales Tax Refund Refund of sales taxes paid on the purchase of building materials used to rehabilitate real property located in the REZ. Up to $5,000 is refundable ($10,000 if 20% of employees live within the REZ) per parcel.

» Sales Tax Exemption for Electrical Energy A 50% sales tax exemption on the purchase of electrical energy to qualified businesses located within the REZ if the municipality has reduced the municipal utility tax by at least 50%; a 100% exemption is available if 20% of permanent, full-time employees live in the REZ.

» Community Contribution Tax Credit A 50% credit on state corporate income tax, insurance premium tax or sales tax refund for donation to an approved local community development project.

Tags: Agriculture, Environment, Business Florida

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